Walmart is developing a robot to identify unhappy customers

Walmart is working on facial recognition technology that can detect when customers are unhappy.

The US supermarket giant wants to use the technology at the checkouts in its stores to monitor customers as they queue, and if dissatisfaction is spotted the technology can alert staff to open more tills in order to reduce queuing times and improve a shopper’s mood.

Supermarket queue
(Jon Super/PA)

According to a patent filed by the retail giant, the company is working on ways of “improving customer service” by using a video feed to “identify customers and measure customer biometric data”.

As well as using it to keep an eye on customers’ moods in the queue, the patent filing says Walmart could also use the data and correlate it with shopping behaviour to try and spot any trends that emerge in what customers buy and how they feel.

Why is Walmart looking into this technology? The patent filing says the company believes it is easier to retain existing customers than to “acquire a new customer through advertising”, hence the focus on spotting and improving levels of shopper satisfaction.

Walmart says the range of choice consumers have these days means it can’t afford not to spot dissatisfaction.

Asda Walmart store
(Barry Batchelor/PA)

“Often, if customer service is inadequate, this fact will not appear in data available to management until many customers have been lost. With so much competition, a customer will often simply go elsewhere rather than take the time to make a complaint,” the patent filing says.

The US firm is no stranger to innovative ideas to change the shopping experience – in the past it’s been reported the company has explored driverless shopping trolleys to operate within its stores.


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