In the fast-moving digital world, imagine getting a seamless shopping experience, where all the visual content is instantly shoppable and available online to try on before one goes to the final checkout screen. The field of computer vision, which aims to help machines understand visual data as a human would, is rapidly moving ahead, dramatically changing the way we shop and interact with the world around us.
One of the more interesting artificial intelligence (AI) technologies gaining popularity in retail is computer vision.
Computer vision solutions automate the process of collecting digital images and analysing them at an in-depth level to inform decision-making.
Essentially, computer vision allows machines to make judgments reacting just in the same way a human mind would react.
Computer vision has an impact on retail and in particular, retailers are finding that computer vision solution is an important component of the physical store experience which customers seek in today’s techno-digital world. While still in its infancy, computer vision is quickly becoming a part of everyday life. Over the next few years, the technology will continue to scale at an accelerated pace and its impact will be felt by the public in a variety of industries.
Computer vision plays an important role in facial recognition, like in mapping customer service loyalty. Picture this, in a store, the moment a customer’s car pulls into the parking lot, a computer vision solution can identify it by license plate number. Facial recognition technology can confirm customer identity for a returning customer or a new customer when they get out of the car and enter the store.
So here is how computer vision technology brings a change into the retail sector.
Useful Loss Prevention Tool
Computer vision powered facial recognition is a useful loss prevention tool. This technology is already used by casinos the world over 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.
Easy Product Search
eBay recently launched two new computer vision products which take us one step closer to that future. Tilled aptly as Find It On eBay and Image Search, these features allow shoppers to use pictures instead of words to search on eBay’s 1.1 billion listings. As shoppers continue to search with pictures, Find It On eBay and Image Search will get smarter, learn and improve on the results that are surfaced.
Promoting Cashless Transactions
Computer Vision promotes cashless transactions, by bringing forward the concept of next-gen stores. These next-gen stores allow shoppers to simply pick an item off the shelf, put it in their bag, and walk out, without having to stop at the POS for scanning of the product with a handheld device, nothing more than selecting a product and walking out with it.
Amazon is the highest profile use case of the grab and go store in the industry today. When the online behemoth went live with its first Amazon Go pilot in late 2016 it received wide-scale coverage as both shoppers and retailers alike were itching to get their first look at the cashier-less technology in action.
Helpful in Visual Merchandising
computer vision could also be used to identify what draws peoples’ eyes and what doesn’t, as well as create heat-maps for stores, helping change and adapt layouts depending on the finding.
In a Crux
Computer vision has made it possible for shoppers armed with computer vision-enabled mobile apps to enter a store and, find different items they want to be placed in their digital shopping cart while they are shopping.
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.
Another concerning issue is that of privacy which is likely to abound. Customers may rise a concern where their every movement is tracked. Mixing this with the customer’s online behaviour is not the most ethical thing which can backfire the retail players.
Nevertheless, and despite all hurdles, there are hopes that the technology will be implemented far and wide, in one form or another, within the next 10 years. Not because it will increase profit (well, that too), but because, perhaps counter-intuitively, it will make retailing a more human experience.