From preventing store thefts to making personal product recommendations to shoppers, face recognition technology can play a significant role in the retail industry. According to Counterpoint Research, over 1 billion smartphones–or 65% of all smartphones—are expected to have facial recognition software installed in them, by the end of 2020. And no, we are not talking about using this technology just to unlock our phones, but much more than that.

Be it online shopping or brick-and-mortar retail shops, facial recognition technology driven by artificial intelligence (AI) is all set to transform the way shoppers go about making purchases. Let us look at eight ways in which facial recognition is transforming the global retail industry:

1. Personalized shopping experience

Recently, we have seen how technologies such as AI and machine learning have been instrumental in personalizing online shopping experiences, mainly through intelligent product recommendations. Thanks to AI and facial recognition technology, physical retail stores can also facilitate a personalized shopping experience for their in-store customers. For example, popular burger chain CaliBurger enabled its self-ordering customers to place their orders in a few seconds using AI-enabled kiosks with facial recognition technology.

2. In-store security

Retail store security is a serious concern due to increasing episodes of vandalism and shoplifting across the world. At the same time, high-security measures can interfere with the overall shopping experience. Surveillance cameras integrated with face recognition technology are proving quite useful in increasing store security without affecting the customers’ shopping experience. Through a proper face scan, retailers can ensure that only authorized store personnel have access to sensitive store facilities. Additionally, this technology is effective in detecting suspicious-looking shoppers or those with a criminal background.

3. Smart advertising

With face recognition technology, retail advertisers can personalize their in-store advertisements based on the target customer’s age group or gender. For instance, retail stores such as Walgreens are deploying smarter displays with screens, cameras and sensors. Using these technologies, the store can detect a customer's face and show targeted ads based on the individual’s demographic information.

4. Combining offline and online experiences

Thanks to technology, the boundary between online shopping and offline (or store) shopping is largely bridged. For instance, a retail shopper may check out online websites for a specific product and then buy it from a local store. Face recognition tools can map the shopper's online and store experiences. Through facial recognition, customers can be assured of immediate service at the store followed by the product purchase at the retail shop's website.

5. Personalized in-store recommendations

With the use of face recognition technology, physical retail stores can personalize their product recommendation to suit each customer based on the insights into their personal data. This includes their demographic information, age group, gender and other indicators. Face recognition technology is also useful in identifying repeat purchase customers coming to the stores. For instance, a customer’s entire shopping history, along with style preferences, can be retrieved from the system within a few minutes. For example, apparel retailer Ruti uses face recognition technology to suggest products to each customer based on their individual preferences, likes and dislikes.

6. Checking out products before buying

Most of brick-and-mortar shops selling apparels have the changing room facility. But what about online stores? How do online shoppers check or try out some clothing item before purchasing it? This is now possible using facial recognition along with augmented reality technology. Online retail giant Amazon has launched a “Virtual Dressing Room” app for their customers where online shoppers can virtually try out the apparel before deciding to buy or discard it.

7. Better handling of customer emotions

With smart advancements in AI and machine learning, it was only a matter of time when facial recognition tools did more than simply identifying a person. Today, we have AI algorithms that can detect facial expressions and determine what mood a retail shopper is in. For instance, are they having a good time shopping or are they dissatisfied with the customer service? A prime example of this capability comes from retail giant Walmart who have designed their facial recognition tool to capture customer expressions and gauge their satisfaction levels. This degree of insights can help retail stores to identify and eliminate customer pain points, and improve their overall store experience.

8. Improved customer service

Surveys reveal that over 90% of customers simply leave the store due to poor customer service. On the other hand, retail businesses are unable to provide exceptional customer service, particularly to first-time customers, simply because they are unaware of their buying behavior. Facial recognition is transforming this for the better. With today’s technology, retail stores can design promotional sales or campaigns and learn about the customer’s response through facial analytics. Apart from identifying customer emotions, AI-enabled facial recognition technology can help in assisting purchases based on individual interests.


Over the years, the retail industry has been at the forefront of improving shopping experiences through technology. Facial recognition is just another step towards the next level. With its contact-free and real-time facial recognition solution, Airface allows retailers to harness the power of technology and offer unique shopping experience to their customers. Want to know more? Visit the Airface website or download the Airface mobile app today.

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