A panel of shopping technology providers unveiled frictionless innovations for customers at the recent CES show in Las Vegas.
Payment cards, passwords and usernames will soon become like horses and cars, allowing shoppers to initiate and complete transactions simply by showing their face and saying hello. At his recent CES show in Las Vegas, in a presentation titled ‘Frictionless Retail’, he unveiled innovations that eliminate friction in retail shopping, his technology and its future, according to a panel of his providers. is already starting to come true.
Moderator Paul Gagnon, vice president of the Washington, DC-based research firm NPD Group, opened the session by defining frictionless retail as:
- Find the right product quickly.
- Fast or no checkout.
- Secure and fast payment.
- Meet where the consumer is.
- Offers service flexibility.
NPD Moderator Paul Gagnon presents research on the growth of digital shopping at the CES conference.
Each of the three panelists then presented how the innovation has reduced customer friction.
Powering self-checkout with computer vision
In a strictly physical space, AI-powered computer vision cameras have enabled guests to checkout multiple items in a single transaction. Panelist Mukul Dhankhar (CTO and he is the founder of Mashgin, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of his touchless sensors) demonstrated on stage. Self register kiosk.
The system is already in operation at over 1,800 locations including C stores, stadiums, airports and ski resorts.
Fusion of physical and digital
When Scan & Go — dentsu’s app-free contactless shopping technology — integrates with a retailer’s e-commerce and loyalty platform, the panel’s vice president of solutions innovation at the Austin, Texas-based company says Valerie Vacante.
Wink is a biometrics-powered identity platform based in San Jose, CA that tackles security challenges related to shopping. As Wink founder and CEO panelist Deepak Jain said in introducing the solution, the assumption that frictionless and security don’t mix is outdated.
“We challenge that paradigm and find solutions that enable retailers, service providers and financial institutions to deliver frictionless experiences that are device agnostic, omnichannel and offer best-in-class security. I decided,” he said.
Wink uses both voice and facial recognition to identify users and enable them to check-in and check-out in-store or online. It does not require users to have passwords, usernames or numbers like memory-based or device-based platforms do.
Applied in-store or online, Wink’s voice greets customers by name and guides them through identity verification, the ordering process, and payment.
Biometrics can also eliminate the friction customers face trying to prove they’re a rewards member by presenting a card or ID number or scanning a QR code, Jain said. I’m here.
Mukul Dhankhar, Deepak Jain, Valerie Vacante and Paul Gagnon discuss frictionless retail at CES in Las Vegas.
What about retail shrinkage?
In addition to removing friction for shoppers, panelists said their innovations also help address a problem raised in response to automated shopping solutions: retail theft.
Dhankhar said Mashgin takes pictures of every transaction. If someone steals something, the system can provide a photo to the retailer.
In addition, biometric authentication warns guests that they are being recorded.
“If it’s an unscrupulous customer, he knows he’s been identified by biometrics,” said Dhanhkar. This makes such customers less likely to leave with unpaid merchandise or use stolen credit cards.
Vacante said there may also be on-site employees monitoring the store, whose presence discourages theft.
Beyond Shrinkage: Inventory Reduction
Panelists noted that reducing showroom inventory not only helps reduce inventory costs, but is another way to prevent shrinkage.
Vacante cited food retailers that limit shelf inventory and encourage guests to view products online and have them delivered to them.
“It’s helped the store reduce inventory and provide that kind of assistance to get the flavors you like,” she said.
Consumer Privacy, Affordability
Regarding the privacy concerns that biometrics sometimes raises, panelists said growing consumer acceptance of the technology is addressing the issue.
“I think consumers are seeing this in all areas,” Dhankhar said, including use in supermarkets, airports and connected cars. “Cameras make things safer and safer.”
Affordability is a concern often raised by smaller retailers, but Jain said new technology should become more affordable over time.
“We can work with small businesses to be very lightweight from a design standpoint…We have designed all these products in such a way that there are light, medium and heavy weight options. We’re trying to design it,” said Vacante. He said. “For us, from a design perspective, we want more brands, more people, more consumers involved, to provide more accessibility.”
Digital shopping on the move
Meanwhile, digital shopping continues to grow.
According to NPD’s Gagnon, online sales are not declining much, up from 44% in 2019 to almost 60% in 2020. He said, like many other researchers, the consumer preference for online commerce that took hold during the pandemic hasn’t abated. “People still prefer to buy products online,” he said.
Another change brought about by the pandemic, he said, is the tendency to use social media when looking for items to buy. Last holiday season, his 20% of all shoppers used social media when looking for gifts.
This has led to a surge in direct-to-consumer sales.
“Brands[rather than retailers]make the deal happen,” Gagnon said.
Photo: Networld Media Group.
Elliot Maras is editor of Kiosk Marketplace and Vending Times. He has covered unmanned retail and commercial foodservice for his 30 years.