Ready to “face” the latest technology for shoppers?

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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The Importance of Data Visibility In The Store –NEC Retail Technology Makes It Possible

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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Black Friday Sales Tanked?

According to this business reporter, Walmart is the reason Black Friday sales were down this year. While that is probably not the case, or at least not the whole picture, the results from Black Friday have proven interesting. The in-store sales numbers were down, while the online numbers were up 14.3 percent over 2013. Many retailers, including Walmart, chose to mark down items in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, giving consumers an opportunity to bargain shop in advance. Plus, the convenience of online shopping is difficult to overcome. It’s easy to grab a tablet and shop while lounging in your favorite chair.

So how does a retail brick and mortar establishment compete with this type of convenience? Create an amazing in-store experience!

Did Your Customers Have the Best Experience?

Customers have opinions about how you do business, and if you don’t succeed in fulfilling their expectations, they will shop somewhere else. A big part of what they want is an innovative, personalized experience that enables them to utilize online technology and access inside a brick-and-mortar store. That is a tall order!

Making reasonable and strategic efforts to fulfill customer expectations is important for 2015, particularly for those retailers who spent time this year analyzing the customer journey. To truly appreciate the importance of having a point-of-sale (POS) system that empowers customer expectations, consider who is actually doing the shopping over this holiday season.

According to a new report by Bankrate.com, a majority of Americans did not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  They expect to find deals throughout the holiday season. The report also stated that Millennials were expected to be visiting stores on Black Friday in higher numbers than older Americans, and we are very aware of the tech-savvy, mobility centric ways of this generation.

As reported by the U.K. publication Retail Systems, a study by 1010data shows many Americans prefer to shop in stores because they do not want to wait on shipping. Additionally, 97 percent of study participants claimed they would purchase gifts early this year, with half of those starting before Thanksgiving and one in five participating in Black Friday. The reason? They want to ensure product availability.

Fully Connect with Your Shoppers

Whether catering to Millennials, bargain shoppers or early-birds who want to make sure they get that perfect gift, there are ways to improve the experience by embracing technology that your customers really want.  First, let’s discuss what that actually is:

Going Mobile

Shoppers are price and comparison shopping from the floor of your store. They are constantly connected now, and want to have that experience enabled in their brick-and-mortar store experience. This constant connectivity also changes the behavior of a shopper. They are no longer willing to wait in line to make a purchase. They believe they can find what is needed online and will simply exit your store if they are made to wait.

In addition, shoppers have significantly more information at their fingertips, so they are able to not only price shop, but feature compare as well. If the item you have in stock is not what they want, they will go find it somewhere else.
Fortunately, you can update your current POS to include mobility solutions that allow you to achieve the following:

  • Real-time access to data on the selling floor – Now you know what merchandise is in-stock, so you can serve customers more effectively.
  • Better up-selling and cross-selling – Get that key data to sales associates to help them to make better recommendations to customers.
  • Improved communication – Your team can collaborate from the sales floor, again better serving customers without sending them all over the store.

Dynamic Advertising

The ability to deliver real-time information and highly targeted messages is available now. Customers really want to feel like you care about them and are appreciative they shop in your store. Adding digital signage to a POS system provides you the opportunity to:

  • Reach customers where they shop
  • Increase sales volumes of higher margin merchandise
  • Suggest add-on merchandise to increase average purchase volume
  • Incorporate real-time data to present timely and relevant offers to customers at the point they make the buying decision
  • Customize messages for local storefronts easily

Now you can easily get that “wow” factor in your store and enhance the customer shopping experience.

Time to Go High Tech

Retailers who are able to cater to the connected nature of their shoppers will win the in-store experience, and have the ability to better compete with online retailers. However, to do so requires adding a strategy to improve mobility, interactivity and information by empowering the sales staff to access data and sell from the floor. Fortunately, NEC has retail solutions available now and can support you in implementation so you can stay focused on your business.

This is just the beginning. There are many more exciting technology trends coming that improve the customer experience, support better data analytics and increase security. Retail is in for some exciting innovation!

Get the Best of All Worlds with In-Store Mobile

Consumers demand great experiences and desire instant gratification. Whether it’s online or in-store, consumers want information to be fast, accurate and focused on their needs. If done correctly, online retail experiences can meet all those desires. But what about in-store, where you have to access data via a computer that may be a considerable distance from the customer’s current location in your store? There is a simple answer – empower sales associates with in-store mobile devices.

In-store mobility is the most efficient and accurate way to create the type of retail experience a consumer expects. Plus, it supports associates in providing a rapid response to a shopper’s needs, ensuring that the sale goes to your retail establishment. To understand the power of in-store mobile, first let’s understand the current consumer shopping behavior.

Consumers are Mobile-Centric

Mobile Centric Consumer
Consumers have no issue grabbing their smart device to look up a competitor’s product while also shopping in your store. Online discounts, offers and coupons, and competitor pricing and products now are at a consumer’s fingertips, challenging retailers to deliver the same or better experience.

Research from comScore confirms that smartphones and tablets are an integral part of the retail shopping experience. In the third quarter of 2013, desktop-based retail e-Commerce sales reached $47.5 billion, a 13% increase over the same period in 2012. Total mobile spending added $5.8 billion to online sales results, a 26% year-over-year increase. This means consumers are very comfortable reaching for a laptop, smart phone or tablet to make a purchase.

Mobile devices also are influencing in-store buying decisions. Research from Deloitte Consulting reported that smartphones will drive 19% of brick-and-mortar transactions — or $689 billion — by 2016. Through a survey of 1,041 random consumers, Deloitte Consulting reported that 48% of smartphone users said their devices, in some way, encouraged them to purchase an item in a store. Moreover, 61% of smartphone subscribers who have used their devices to shop have done so in a store aisle.

Retailers Must Become Mobile-Centric

The linear process in many retail environments today must be better aligned to a consumer’s desired shopping experience. Today, many retail shopping experiences require the consumer to find the product, hope it’s in stock, maybe decide on a replacement (or leave if they cannot find it), or if in stock, choose the product, take it to check out and leave. If the consumer has any question about the product, they must find a sales associate, who most likely will not know the answer. Then the sales associate must traipse across the store to find the computer in order to provide an answer. This is inefficient and frustrating for a consumer who can punch a few buttons and find the answer online.

By unlocking the power of mobile technology, retailers can closely replicate an online experience for their shoppers and empower sales associates to better provide positive customer experiences. Think about the scenario outlined above. If that sales associate had a tablet, he could simply look up the information right there, provide the customer with all the answers and ensure a sale.

Retailers that embrace in-store mobility will reap many benefits, including:

1.  Increase engagement and sales: Associates can access a wealth of information on products and customers. Simply entering a customer’s name or loyalty card account number will provide instant access to past purchases and browsing behaviors. As a result, associates can offer relevant product recommendations, and in turn, increase cross-sell and up-sell results.

2.  Improve customer experiences: Mobile technology that includes barcode scanning and credit card technology will enable employees to complete transactions from anywhere within a store, leading to shorter wait times. Employees can collaborate throughout the store, requesting items from the stockroom or specialized support at the click of a button.

3.  Retain the sale: If a shopper is looking for a product that is out of stock, she will most likely visit a competitor, or purchase the item online. Using mobile technology, sales associates can quickly access the company e-Commerce site, order the desired item, and have it delivered to the store or directly to the shopper’s home, thereby saving a sale that was headed elsewhere.

4.  Employees that are better informed:With real-time access to inventory data on the selling floor, associates can be equipped with the information they need to sell effectively. This translates to a much better customer experience.

Consumers still have a desire to shop in-store so they can see the product first-hand. Online shopping will not fulfill this need, requiring shoppers to rely on recommendations from others rather than their own judgment. By improving in-store customer experiences, retailers continue to have an edge.

Choosing to meet mobile consumer demands will make or break the in-store shopping experience moving forward. NEC’s Retail Mobility solutions provide these major benefits to the shopping experience, as well as enabling store managers and staff to have greater access to data, improve communications and increase productivity.

To get more insight into retail mobility as our team prepares for National Retail Federation’s annual convention, check out Microsoft’s blog and http://www.necretaildirection.necam.com/WellConnected. Also, visit us at Booth # 351at NRF’s Big Show Jan. 12-15, in New York. Make in-store mobility part of your 2014 success strategy!