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Tech Viewpoint: Three Ways Computer Vision is Transforming the Store

One of the more interesting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to gain popularity in retail is computer vision.

Computer vision solutions automate the process of collecting digital images and analyzing them at an in-depth level to inform decision-making. Essentially, computer vision allows a machine to “see” things and events, make judgments and react accordingly in the same way a human does.

Computer vision is having a profound effect on almost every major industry, with retail no exception. In particular, retailers are finding that computer vision solutions are crucial components of the seamlessly blended digital-physical store experience customers seek.

Here are three examples of how computer vision is helping retailers evolve the brick-and-mortar store environment.

I Know You, Rider
The moment a customer’s car pulls into a store parking lot, a computer vision solution can identify them by license plate number. Facial recognition can confirm customer identity when they get out of the car and enter the store.

With this capability, retailers could have runners bring curbside orders out to customers as soon as they park their cars, or have BOPIS purchases waiting at the door the moment shoppers walk in. Loyalty members and VIP customers could be greeted by associates with clienteling tablets without having to announce themselves.

Facial recognition can also serve as a useful loss prevention tool. Casinos already use computer vision to identify known card cheats as soon as they are on the premises. Repeat shoplifters and other high-risk individuals can similarly be flagged for monitoring or removal.

Help on the Way
In addition to immediately identifying customers, computer vision technology is effective at instantly recognizing products. Rather than rely upon RFID tags or even barcodes, retailers can use computer vision-enabled inventory management solutions to instantly scan products by logo, labeling, shape, or other optical markers such as lot numbers.

On the customer side, retailers can equip mobile shopping apps with this capability to streamline activities such as locating items on shelves, looking up product information, and adding goods to a mobile shopping cart. Meanwhile, retailers can enable associates to instantly identify items that are understocked or misplaced on shelves, as well as find products in the back room that need to be brought out front.

I Will Take You Home
By combining facial recognition with object recognition, retailers can achieve what has become the Holy Grail of brick-and-mortar store operations: frictionless commerce, or “grab and go” retail. Customers with computer vision-enabled mobile apps can enter a store and using object recognition capabilities, find the items they want and place them in their digital shopping cart as they remove them from the shelf.

By strategically placing computer vision-equipped cameras throughout the store, retailers can automatically identify customers via facial recognition and track their movements. When the customer leaves with goods, the cost of all the items is instantly charged to a stored credit or debit card. Self-checkout becomes no checkout. Facial recognition and object recognition guard against fraud, shoplifting and other possible customer malfeasance.

What type of impact do you see computer vision having on retail? Let me know at [email protected].
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