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It’s incredible how humans recognise things. Our eyes generate electrical signals that are passed through to the brain, which unscrambles the signals to identify what we have spotted!

A new technology has arisen in retail that uses a similar concept – image recognition.

Let’s take a look at what image recognition is, and how stores are using it to improve the customer experience, as well as grow sales.

What is image recognition?

Image recognition identifies specific touchpoints within a photo or piece of video footage.

This is done by analysing each pixel of an image and extracting enough information to determine what is on display.

Once the image recognition is complete, a computer can categorise each image and take action based on what it has seen.

Image recognition is improving all of the time. Each image that is processed is stored and can be used in future analysis.

How can image recognition be used in the retail industry?

Image recognition is already being used in several innovative ways by the retail industry. Here are three of our favourites.

  • Inventory management

Empty shelves (or stockouts) can be frustrating if you are a customer, with one out of three shoppers experiencing them frequently. However, retailers can now use image recognition to keep shelves full and shoppers happy!

Image recognition cameras alert stores when there are gaps on shelves, meaning that someone can quickly come and replenish the relevant part of the store. The cameras can even alert suppliers that more stock is needed!

  • Identifying trends

As well as identifying products that are running low, businesses can take advantage of image recognition to spot trends and how customers interact with goods.

For example, the technology can see which brands customers are buying, and where stores should place their products for maximum effect. Image recognition can also be used to see how a retail business stacks up against its competitors.

Before image recognition, this work was often done manually. With the new technology, the information is much more accurate and can be collected much more quickly.

  • ‘Paying with a selfie’

Have your customers left their wallets at home and forgot to install Google Pay on their phones? If the answer is yes, why not let them pay with a selfie instead?

Some stores in the US, China, Denmark and Israel use image recognition to let customers pay for products without having to use their cards. They do this by linking their photo with their bank details through an app.

The technology works with face masks, and customers can even give a thumbs up or a peace sign to tip their server!

In conclusion: Don’t let image recognition pass you by

The image recognition market is currently worth $1.4B worldwide, and this figure is set to grow by a staggering 164% by 2025.

Image and facial recognition have always been used in UK stores to some degree, for example, to identify shoplifters. However, the technology is now a lot more sophisticated.

No longer just a gimmick, image recognition is a fantastic way of improving efficiencies and making the in-store user experience a better one.

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