At NRF17, we debuted our new facial payment solution, which allows registered shoppers to pay for their products with their face. No cash, checks or cards are necessary, you just use your good looks to save time and money.
You might have heard about the Amazon Go store prototype in Seattle, in which customers simply walk in, select their products, and walk out. With NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition technology, which by-the-way has one of the world’s highest level of authentication accuracy, you can give your customers a similar experience.
How does it work?
Our technology matches pre-registered facial images against images taken and stored in the NeoFace® database by the POS (point of sale). All a customer needs to do is opt-in to use the solution by submitting their photo and entering a PIN to keep their account secure. The PIN is entered at time of payment to confirm the person’s identity and account information.
Pretty cool! Watch our NRF video to see how it can work with you existing POS and how it can be deployed in your store.
Has it been tested?
Right now, NEC is testing the solution in Japan in cooperation with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Inc. (SMFG), Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC). In the trials, NEC, SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Card are testing the recognition performance, employee receptivity to biometric authentication, and functionality of the service. During the trial the goal is to gain the experience and know-how to provide a safe, secure, convenient cashless (and card-less) payment service utilizing facial recognition technology at other branches in the future.
We are also testing this solution in small shops in our headquarters building in Japan. Our trials are measuring authentication performance and accuracy, specifically when dealing with multiple conditions inside stores, such as, the types of cameras in use, camera positioning, installation, lighting and security.
Where can I learn more?
Retail solutions from NEC aim to help you “Know Your Customer” better. We work closely with our customers to develop a deep understanding of business needs to provide the best retail solutions possible and our facial payment product is just one of the innovative ways we can help retailers get things moving better — and faster — right in your own stores.
Check out NEC’s full retail suite by visiting www.necam.com/smartretail or let us know if you want more information by filling out the form below.
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Have questions about an NEC Retail Solution? Fill out the form, and one of our solutions experts will be happy to chat with you!
Deciding between building and maintaining your own data center or moving to the cloud or IaaS can be quite the head scratcher for an IT executive. In some cases, the terms “data center” and “cloud” might be interchangeable. The first step in decision-making is clarification of terms and a clearer understanding of your options.
Why move to the cloud? Can Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) be used for a data center? Which option is better for the future needs of the organization?
“Data center” is a general term used to define an organized area of servers and storage, either onsite or offsite, that is managed by trained data center and IT specialists. The data center equipment is used to store user and organizational data and make it accessible when needed. With many data centers kept onsite, network users do not rely on an Internet connection to access the local data. As long as the local network connection is available, the data is accessible.
Building and maintaining your own data center include the following cost factors:
Staffing and training – hiring IT expertise and paying for training to maintain, backup, restore and upgrade data center equipment, as needed.
Architecting – forecasting for current and future data storage requirements, workload and scalability
Facilities – finding an expandable location for the equipment that is secure, safe and with a low risk of break-ins and natural disasters
Utilities – covering the cost of electricity, wiring, air conditioning and other utilities required to keep the servers running 24/7/365
Equipment – purchasing and evaluating ever-changing equipment and storage needs, year over year
Redundancy – ensuring the data is backed up or available immediately should the storage equipment or servers encounter a failure
Software – purchasing the software required to keep the servers running efficiently and the data storage secure
Expansion – planning for expansion of the data center as the data storage requirements increase
If there is an emergency situation at the data center location, such as fire, flood or other physical damage, or an attempted data breach, the actual servers and storage are at risk of being harmed and unavailable. Backing up the data or maintaining a data center elsewhere may help mitigate the risk of failure or loss of data.
In plain terms, cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a set of shared resources and services available to end users (cloud clients), quickly and with little management, via an Internet connection. Cloud computing provides these services via three general models: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS). An example of SaaS would be an email application accessed through a web browser. Platform as a service is typically used in the web or software development world. When developers need to collaborate on a project such as an application or software creation, PaaS offers a good option for a tool or platform to be used in this way. In the case of data centers, IT executives considering the “cloud” would be interested in using Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). IaaS provides servers, storage, virtual machines and more for the use of running software and other necessary components needed in the IT environment.
An IaaS environment is also considered a data center that is accessible via the cloud or Internet-based services, hence the reason the terms can cause some confusion. The difference is that the data center equipment is not purchased or maintained by the organization but rather purchased as an on-demand service from an IaaS provider. IaaS can be available via the “public cloud,” where the shared infrastructure services are open for public use. “Private cloud” is also an option, where the services are available, but only for the single organization and via a private network. Some providers are also offering a combination of these options, referred to as “Hybrid Cloud.”
The cost of building and maintaining IaaS is different from an organizationally-owned data center and can significantly assist in controlling budgets. As part of the service, the IaaS provider does the staffing and training of storage experts, provides the facilities and utilities, furnishes the equipment, backs up and builds redundancy of the data and offers security – all for a single price. With an in-house data center, the organization is paying for these requirements all the time. With “pay only for what you use,” IaaS provides customization, agility, control, dynamic scaling, optimization, security and efficiency for a lower total cost of ownership. And with an IaaS provider, there is also the ability to have the “latest and greatest” in technology, making it easier to stay up to date.
When using a private cloud, IaaS offers dedicated servers for the organization’s mission critical data. The IaaS provider is offsite and builds redundancy and backups into the service so the organization’s sensitive data is always secure and available.
As an original equipment manufacturer of servers and storage, NEC is uniquely positioned to offer IaaS to clients without the use of third-party sourcing. IaaS is not a “one size fits all” solution and NEC can tailor customizable configurations based on your organizational needs.
Because of the lower total cost of ownership, NEC’s IaaS solutions offer long-term scalable and quantifiable benefits to organizations at a predictable and financially manageable expense.
NEC’s hosts its private IaaS infrastructure 200 feet underground at Iron Mountain’s Western Pennsylvania Data Center. Iron Mountain provides FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) compliance to ensure Department of Justice Level 4 security. This security level is the highest federal regulatory standard.
When considering cost and security, IT executives are weighing options for highly sensitive and mission-critical operational environments. As the organization’s needs expand, so will the cost of maintaining an onsite data center, equipment, real estate, utilities and more. Moving to IaaS, as part of a cloud computing solution, is an opportunity for enterprise environments to manage expanding requirements for security, regulatory compliance and business continuity at a lower total cost of ownership. NEC’s managed IaaS solution, as well as “best in breed” server and storage options, offers organizations dedicated servers, stored and physically secured deep in Iron Mountain’s underground data center.
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New functionalities are being requested by end users that your system is not capable of
IT cannot expand and support the growth of your company’s communications requirements
When these situations arise, more often than not, it is not in the budget. And, as long as there is dial tone, it’s hard to convince the powers that be of the necessity of spending dollars on replacing their communications system. So, what are your options?
Do nothing and run the risk of your system going down or not being able to support your end users with the services they require
Look to see where you can find dollars in the existing budget and where you can make cuts on other projects
Consider financing or leasing options for your technology acquisitions
Financing is a great alternative to traditional funding sources. It lets you act quickly and does not negatively impact your budget. When choosing this path, you need to consider carefully the funding source. You need a source that is responsive and understands the nuances of acquiring new technology and has the expertise to meet your exact needs. One such company is NEC Financial Services.
NEC Financial Services has provided IT/communications finance solutions for more than 30 years and during that time has supported many companies in getting all their technology needs through flexible financing options. They start with a transaction team and use underwriting and financing contracts that are customizable to their clients’ needs. Their unique system enables them to create a better solution that ensures their clients have what they require to grow their business.
NEC Financial Services team offers several options for the financing and leasing of technology acquisitions. And, the best part? You can purchase various IT hardware, software and associated items from multiple vendors and have NEC create a financing package customized to your specific needs.
Some examples of the different financing and leasing approaches they offer that you will find are very different from a more traditional lender or bank:
Programs based on customer requirements – most organizations face the same business challenges that are not easily resolved with standard finance transactions. NEC Financial Services provides different types of programs based on customer requirements. From a purchase to own arrangement to an OPEX finance option, the program is designed to fit the business need. Including:
Terms to Protect Against Technology Obsolescence – for clients where obsolescence is a real issue, they can structure shorter terms so they can keep up with important technology updates to grow their business.
Maintenance Financing – option to finance one of the more expensive, yet critical components of a new technology purchase – maintenance.
Tech Refresh Lease – clients can get technology updated with a simple schedule as an addendum to the master lease or finance agreement. It’s easy and gives a customer an opportunity to keep on top of technology changes.
Software Financing an option for leveling out investment costs versus having the initial capital investment cash flow impact the budgeting cycle.
Off Balance Sheet – many organizations find it more attractive to acquire technology as an operational expense, giving them additional financial benefits.
Driven by cash flow – if an organization has a specific budget amount they need to meet, NEC Financial Services will work to structure financing to accommodate that number.
Beyond the traditional – NEC Financial Services designs financing options to ensure that clients can receive funding for their technology upgrades and investments, even during the installation or implementation phases. Many times this can be accomplished through various offerings that include direct and working capital loans or structured financing.
In addition to the financing options, NEC Financial Services also provides asset tracking. They find that many of their clients require a more robust asset tracking system than they have in-house. They can track assets by jurisdiction, county, state, and zip code, taking the burden from their clients while providing added value.
NEC Financial Services goal is to support their clients’ ongoing business growth through long-term relationships. They make great efforts to understand client’s business requirements and growth strategies so that they can structure finance options to meet their needs and successfully implement their plans.
Technology is in NEC Financial Services DNA – especially since they are a division of NEC which was named as one of the 50 most innovative companies in 2016. They are truly committed to providing excellent service to their clients to ensure they are able to get the technology they need to remain competitive.
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As the President and CEO of a major technology subsidiary focused on delivering security, safety and operational efficiency using a broad technology portfolio we call the Smart Enterprise, I have the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of great companies and brands.
For example, I take great pride in the fact that NEC Corporation of America has such a longstanding, global relationship with 7-Eleven, Inc. The convenience store giant is a beacon of innovation in the retail industry, and through the years we have helped 7-Eleven build out its impressive IT platform.
This week, NEC announced an exciting, exclusive deal with 7-Eleven to provide point-of-sale (POS) technology to 8,600 stores across the United States and Canada. As we communicated in the news release, for 7-Eleven it’s a great new opportunity to connect with tech-savvy consumers at the register with an engaging, custom digital experience using our NEC TWINPOS® G5100 POS platform.
For us, it’s a great opportunity to continue to demonstrate that we do so much more than provide technology in the store. In this case, we are also offering fully integrated product development, service desk and maintenance support for the next five years.
These are the types of customer relationships that excite me the most – integrated development and support. Working with our customer, we are able to leverage real-time feedback in the labs to create a solution that does exactly what our client wants. To help us stay even more in-tune with our customer, we actually have a 7-Eleven store inside our headquarters building in Irving, Texas. We use it and shop there every day. We serve as a testing ground for our customer, just as our customer often pushes us to innovate in their own environment.
The resulting relationship with 7-Eleven is the very the definition of Smart Retail, which allows retailers to gain insights to know their customers better and build a larger share of wallet. Together, we always have our eyes on the customer.
Over time, I am confident NEC will continue to contribute and enhance 7-Eleven’s customer experience and operational efficiency through a broad range of technologies.
If you are headed to the NRF or will be in New York City next week (January 15-17), I encourage you to come by and check it out. Now in its 106th year, there is nothing quite like Retail’s Big Show.
As you can read online in our press release, the NEC booth #4121 will not disappoint and will showcase all of the technologies smart retailers can use to know their customers better, including our core POS hardware, software, cloud platform for retail, Infrastructure as a Service and lifecycle management solutions. Likewise, NEC’s leadership in biometrics solutions, specifically facial recognition for use in loyalty program, as well as automated greetings and surveillance, will provide a bit of wow-factor in the booth. Our industry leading analytics solutions for automated shelf detection, heat mapping and video shopper demographics will also be popular items.
Finally, we’ll be joined in booth by our colleagues at NEC Display Solutions, which offers 4K displays, video wall solutions, interactive displays and large format displays for a wide array of commercial and retail applications.
If you are a technologist in the retail industry, I encourage you to check out NEC’s full retail suite by heading over to www.necam.com/smartretail.
You just might be surprised at how we might be able to help you “Know Your Customer.”
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Have questions about an NEC Retail Solution? Fill out the form, and one of our solutions experts will be happy to chat with you!
For a small retail business, having the ability to see up to-the-minute sales information can mean whether or not you survive in the marketplace. This is especially true in the convenience store space, where reliable sales data, inventory control, loss prevention, and security are critical to a successful operation.
Some c-stores are independently owned but have a licensing agreement with a large, established company, which affords them the benefits of the company’s mentoring, marketing assistance and perhaps a more corporate look and feel, while they actually operate autonomously. A major challenge in this arrangement, however, occurs when the company’s affiliated c-stores are working with old retail equipment from different manufactures.
This was the situation with many of Becker’s Affiliate Program store owners in Canada. Becker’s is a brand operating under Alimentation Couche-Tard, Inc. (Couche-Tard), one of the largest convenience store operator companies in the world. But without standardized, integrated technology in these affiliate stores, a network was impossible, and neither the affiliate program managers nor the individual store owners could access any sales information from these locations. Without sales data, the company was limited to providing general retail advice, making it difficult to support the survival of stores facing diverse challenges and having unknown issues.
NEC Retail Software Delivers Sales Visibility
NEC worked with Becker’s Central Canada Affiliates program and Gexin Inc., NEC’s Canadian partner, to offer the affiliate store owners a customizable POS system using NEC Stanchion® software. Together with Gexin, NEC standardized ten affiliate stores’ equipment and operational capabilities. Integration and store installations were completed in 3 months and were fully integrated with Gexin’s security system and reporting system to provide stores with sales information and metrics for smart product ordering and operational efficiency.
Store personnel were quickly trained on NEC’s software, which provides a customized dashboard showing their sales data in real-time, and delivers detailed reporting for each networked location to increase sales. Having access to this information provides the company as well as store owners with detailed sales information and working metrics for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency—a first for these c-store owners.
Now, with this fully integrated system, NEC POS terminal, and their Network Video Recorder (NVR) can talk to each other. The information from the POS and security systems provide real-time sales analytics to the Becker’s Affiliate Program, so the company can provide customized support to the affiliate stores to help boost profitability, strengthen their survival rate, and help them grow their businesses.
NEC worked closely with this retail customer, to develop a deep understanding of their business and understand their technology pain points and provide the best solution to address the unique needs of both the company and the individual affiliate stores.
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