Retail Tech and Privacy

CPS Media – The dystopian novel “1984” begins with the protagonist Winston Smith hiding from a device called a telescreen. The telescreen is a combination TV and surveillance camera that the book’s fictional government uses to constantly monitor its citizens. In author George Orwell’s nightmare world, everyday people can watch programs on the telescreens, but it is always watching them back.

What does this have to do with convenience stores? More and more every day. When “1984” was published in 1949, Orwell could not imagine that we would have the ability to immediately identify almost anyone using facial recognition technology. The possibility that we as consumers might soon be surrounded by such technology in retail and restaurant settings is very real.

On one hand, facial recognition devices such as this could be the next logical step in providing the level of service customers increasingly demand. After all, BRP, a Boston-based retail analysis firm, recently released a study claiming that 79% of consumers see personalized service as an important factor when deciding where to shop. Furthermore, the study found that 64% of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them with their mobile phones when they enter the store if they are offered a personalized experience in return.

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