Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the Face

Quick serve restaurant pilots NEC facial recognition technology to enhance the customer experience

Cali Group worked with global technology firm NEC Corporation of America to integrate NEC’s facial recognition technology into its CaliBurger loyalty program. The restaurant chain will use AI-enabled self-ordering kiosks to provide customers the option of immediately activating their loyalty accounts as they approach kiosks using NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition software, eliminating the need of swiping a card or typing in identifying information.

As shown in the demo video, the loyalty account shows a customer’s favorite historical meal packages, enabling the customer to complete the ordering transaction in a matter of seconds. The kiosk pilot program is now at CaliBurger’s Pasadena location, where the Quick Serve Restaurant chain showcases new technologies developed by its parent company. If customers are pleased with the new ordering experience, the kiosks will be rolled out to CaliBurger’s global locations next year with the additional ability to allow customers to pay using their faces.

"NEC’s face recognition software technology is considered among the world’s most accurate, making it an ideal tool for retailers seeking to provide the best possible customer service and convenience for their customers," said Matt Worley, Vice President, Retail Solutions, NEC Corporation of America. "We are committed to helping Cali Group reinvent the customer experience in the best ways possible, and I encourage anyone attending NRF 2018 to come see a demonstration of the technology in action."

Download our white paper Digitizing the Shopping Journey: Building a Business Model on Never Saying “No”"Face-based loyalty significantly reduces the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use; further, it enables a restaurant chain like CaliBurger to provide a customized, one-on-one interactive experience at the ordering kiosk," said John Miller, Chairman and CEO of Cali Group. "Our goal for 2018 is to replace credit card swipes with face-based payments. Facial recognition is part of our broader strategy to enable the restaurant and retail industries to provide the same kinds of benefits and conveniences in the built world that customers experience with retailers like Amazon in the digital world."

Today, 64% of shoppers want a more fluid in-store experience – personal service without lines or waits. Give customers that kind of experience and 45% are more likely to make a purchase on the spot—even if the price tag is a bit higher.

Michael Jude
Program Manager, Data Analytics
Stratecast and Frost & Sullivan

Cali Group’s new facial recognition self-ordering kiosks will be on display at NRF 2018 | Retail’s Big Show in New York City on January 14-16 in the NEC Booth, #3153.

NEC Corporation of America

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NRF 2018: Five Trends We Think Will Transform Brick and Mortar Again

Last year, our show theme at NRF 2017 was Know Your Customer. This year, we think it’s time to use that knowledge to transform brick-and-mortar retail once again, helping it compete with online retailers.

How can in-store retailers create a frictionless, more personalized experience for their customers, while still making their own in-store processes more efficient and cost effective? At NEC we believe it’s by applying key technologies to make the entire store more customer-aware.

Here are five of those technologies we expect to see on display at NRF 2018.

#1 Data and data analytics in full swing

Think about it. Big online retailers seem to know more about you than you do.
They know what to show you and recommend to you, what you’ve looked at, “liked” or bought before—even what you’re likely to want next. By crunching all that collected data with demographics, preferences and social media data, they can predict what shoppers will best respond to.

Why shouldn’t brick-and-mortar retailers collect, analyze and apply the data available to them to tailor the in-store customer experience, too? After all, everything else being the same, there’s still nothing quite like an in-person shopping experience. And analytics can help retailers better tailor their outreach—via emails, app notifications, even in-store messaging—to bring customers back into the store.

#2 Loyalty programs enhanced by facial recognition

Face it – technology can also help with building and retaining loyal customers, by making rewards program more effective and personal.

Using facial recognition technology, for example, a retailer can identify a frequent shopper or loyalty member as soon as they enter the store. Store clerks are able to greet them by name and make suggestions based on past purchases. And later, at checkout, you can automatically apply loyalty rewards and special savings, based on their status.

#3 In-store digital signage becomes customer aware

Digital signage is nothing new in retail, but when paired with facial recognition and big data analytics, it can become customer aware. That means shelf tags and screens can display messages or ads to the nearest customer, calling attention to nearby items or specials that past behavior indicates might appeal to that customer.

But smart signage can also utilize object recognition to enhance the customer experience. This technology can detect when the shopper picks up an item (or puts it back) and direct the signage to display personalized information. For example, more product information, available options, upsell ads, or even warning about potential allergic reactions—and make alternate recommendations.

#4 Chatbots with AI and AR help both customers and staff

What if a coffeemaker needs a filter change or a checkout printer needs the ink cartridge replaced? Little things like this can bring operations to a halt, and in turn affect how well associates take care of their customers.

Instead waiting on a repair, a store associate could quickly use a tablet at the malfunction to virtually chat with a robot (artificial intelligence) about how to fix the issue. Augmented reality (AR) can even show the associate how to get the device back up and running “live”—so they can get back to serving customers.
Shoppers could benefit directly from AI/AR chatbots, too. Pointing a smartphone at an item, the chatbot could answer questions, show the customer what’s size and colors are in stock, even show the shopper wearing the items before trying it on. Of course, a chatbot can also summon an associate over to help them personally.

#5 POS and check out becomes fast, easy and automatic

And let’s forget not the checkout experience. For single-item and multi-item purchases, using biometrics and object recognition-augmented POS systems allow for an efficient, frictionless checkout experience.

How would this work? Using both facial and object recognition, the POS solution identifies both the shopper and the items as she puts them on the counter. The system quickly totals the bill—applying the appropriate discounts and rewards based on the shopper’s loyalty status—and the customer pays with a mere glance at the camera. Now that’s convenient for the customer—and efficient for the store, too.

Which technology trend will be the winner this year?

Do you see five separate technologies in our NRF 2018 predictions—or one huge opportunity for transforming brick-and-mortar retail once again?
In each of our scenarios, it’s difficult to see these applications as separate technologies. At NEC, we think the key is unifying them to make the whole store customer-aware, from end-to-end.

At NRF 2018, you’ll see how our retail and advanced recognition solutions work together, to provide more efficient store operations, and for customers, a seamless, frictionless and more personalized experience.

True, technology helps retailers get shoppers in-and-out of the store more quickly—if that’s what they want. But more importantly, NEC retail solutions allow them to spend more time enjoying the actual shopping experience. And isn’t a personal, in-store experience what brick-and-mortar retail has that online shopping simply can’t provide?

Register today to receive a free pass to NRF 2018, Retail’s Big Event

Marketplace Buzz at SpiceWorld 2017

Image Source: Spiceworks

“So How Can We Really Secure Our Network?”

Network security seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds this year at the SpiceWorld 2017 Expo–how to protect your critical operations and secure your data. While we were demonstrating fault tolerant (FT) high availability servers in the NEC booth at the Expo, we met with IT pros from around the globe and had the opportunity to show more than 100 demos, and hear first-hand what’s at the top of many IT worry lists.

Repeatedly, concerns were voiced that if large Multi-National Enterprises (MNE’s) with seemingly endless resources and (we’re told) "top tier network security" can be hacked, then where does that leave smaller and mid-tier organizations?

The big question was “How do we protect our data, and make sure our business is disaster-proof?” What practices can we put into place for an actual worry-free, easy to manage IT environment?

Some specific topics that emerged were:

  1. Doing More With Less Many were interested in exploring how we can better secure our networks, and simplify our server storage administration, and still meet infrastructure needs with minimal cost. Organizations want to see a single solution to address backups, archive data, meet requirements for encryption and deliver a mechanism to move data offsite. These worries inevitably led to talks about HYDRAstor®, an award winning high-speed tier 2 data repository that will simplify administration, and save both time and money while addressing these needs.
  2. Disaster Recovery (DR) There was willingness to take a hard look at what we can do to deploy a reliable and cost effective recovery strategy—which is when the FT servers and the NEC IT ecosystem were of major interest. These kind of conversations about DR usually led to a predominant theme that week, about ways to protect our data from external attacks, like from cryptolocker, etc., and how we can efficiently replicate data off-site for DR and for business continuity purposes.
  3. Securing End Points and Mobility  Part of securing your network means not allowing your system to become vulnerable to letting viruses in. This defensive mode also touches on the deploying of technologies that secure all your end points, like smart phones, desktops/laptops, and protecting your remote and mobile work force.
  4. High Costs of Critical Ops Downtime Several manufacturing businesses recognized the value add of the fault tolerant (FT) server as it relates to the high costs of downtime, especially for avoidance of any assembly line disruption, application inconsistency or data log collection for legal purposes. We discussed the very real damages that can occur as result from a manufacture’s lack of ability to demonstrate product quality consistency through the production process. In manufacturing, it’s important to prove that data logs are collected, without interruption, so there is 100% data consistency and no chance of missing information. Yes, time is money, but so are production errors, especially when mistakes are really not acceptable–and evidence is needed to demonstrate as much.

It became very apparent that data security and ways to safeguard business continuity is a hot button right now. If some of these worries are keeping you up at night like so many at SpiceWorld this year, please check out the smart NEC data storage and operational resiliency solutions. This is real, proven data security, folks–solutions that can deliver some serious peace of mind.

To keep up with us on the latest at NEC, please join us on our NEC Spiceworks page.

For more information and to discuss your IT needs, feel free to reach out to NEC. Just let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Biometrics Enhances LPGA Fan Experience

Ladies Pro Golf Association (LPGA) founded in 1950 is a premier professional women’s sports association that provides programs, instruction, tournament play, as well as charitable events through its foundation.

Recently, at the ANA Inspiration Tournament in Palm Springs, California, the LPGA and NEC worked together to pilot a program that provided facial recognition solutions for safety and security of its fans, players, and tournament staff. The pilot also provided a unique VIP experience for its media and other credentialed patrons to create frictionless entry into various secured environments around the golf course.

Player, fan safety and a pleasurable customer experience are of the utmost importance to the LPGA, which prides itself on providing a safe, fun, family friendly event. To help ensure this experience during the ANA Inspiration event the LPGA used NEC’s NeoFace Express rapid access solution to eliminate long wait times by accurately identifying media members, tournament staff all while keeping a watchful eye for known persons of interest to law enforcement by searching against state/local and national law enforcement databases to keep potential threats away by alerting the appropriate authorities.

.@LPGA eliminates long wait times by accurately identifying #VIP members and staff. #CX #Biometrics Click To Tweet

Take a moment to the watch the video below to learn more about how NEC’s facial recognition solution was leveraged at the tournament.


Want to learn more about Advanced Recognition Solutions from NEC? Let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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Protecting critical infrastructure and the fan experience with biometric face recognition

From concert halls to sports stadiums, nothing ruins an outing like a public safety incident. Whether it’s due to a fan’s reaction to an unpopular ruling on the field or a more intentional plot to inflict harm, when situations get out of control, the outcome is unpredictable and often dangerous.

Imagine a scuffle breaking out at a soccer match in a packed stadium, injuring not just members of the teams, but also innocent fans. Even worse, imagine the chaotic aftermath of the brutal bombing at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester, UK. Preventing injuries and loss of life in incidents like these—not to mention identifying and helping apprehend the perpetrators—is critical.

See NEC demo its world-renowned NeoFace facial recognition biometric technology. - Watch NowWhat if the troublemakers at a soccer game could be identified before they are even admitted or seated? What if suspected terrorists could be recognized from live or recorded video feeds leveraging cameras at key chokepoints that don’t disrupt the flow and speed the security checks or even on crowded city streets?

NEC designed its NeoFace facial recognition solutions to address the critical security infrastructure needs of high-traffic venues like these. Web-based and easy-to-use, NeoFace has a scalable architecture and enterprise-class features that integrate and deploy with existing surveillance systems. Its high performance allows critical infrastructure to keep tens of thousands of sports fans safe, by accurately identifying the bad guys and alerting security personnel to help keep them out.

How advanced facial recognition helps cooler heads prevail

NeoFace works with video surveillance to check individuals against known watch lists and generates real-time alerts when positive matches are found. In a four-step process, it captures and extracts faces of individuals from video feeds, performs quality matches in real-time with unsurpassed accuracy and speed—handling up to 3.02 million searches per second.

It works like this:

  • Capture: Capture real-time from digital cameras, closed circuit television (CCTV) or archived footage.
  • Assess: Assess individual video frames, detect and analyze the unique facial signature of each face.
  • Match: Compare and match the signatures against a database which includes enrolled images of individuals.
  • React: Take a configurable action when a positive match is made.

Safe and secure, from front of house to back of house

There are hundreds more major concerts and sporting events scheduled worldwide throughout the rest of 2017. Unruly fans, unauthorized persons, and other persons-of-interest shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the thrill and excitement for others — and we don’t have to let them. With more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation, NEC built NeoFace to provide critical infrastructure protection for venues like stadiums, making them safer and more secure.

Rapid identification eliminates long screening and admission queues. With NeoFace, VIP guests and season ticketholders can self-authenticate and enter in express lines and even pay-by-face for their concessions improving the customer experience, getting you back to the game quicker.

For back of house, NeoFace can protect employee, contractor and delivery entrances from unauthorized entry. NeoFace identifies known offenders on security watch lists and alerts security, before they can enter and cause harm.

Stay Tuned

Of course, concert and sports stadiums aren’t the only high-traffic venues where NEC solutions help keep the public safe. Watch this space for future posts on how NEC provides critical infrastructure for airports, cruise terminals, theme parks, transportation hubs and more.

NEC Corporation of America

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