ECOMMERCE

Restaurant lets customers pay using their face

BY Marianne Wilson

A new restaurant concept gives customers an easy — and high-tech way — to pay for their meal without having to take out their wallet or even their smartphone.

KPRO, by KFC (from Yum China Holdings), in Hangzhou, China, was developed for young, tech-savvy consumers who are open to new tastes as well as digital innovations. The health-focused restaurant features the first commercial application of Alipay's new "Smile to Pay" facial recognition payment technology globally. (Alipay is the mobile and online payment platform created by Alibaba.)

The technology utilizes a multi-step verification process that only takes about two seconds. It includes a facial scan using a 3D camera. Customers who opt for the facial payment must also enter their mobile phone number to facilitate payment.

In addition to facial recognition payment, KPRO incorporates other cutting-edge technology to provide customers with a convenient and connected dining experience. It has no traditional ordering counter. Instead, customers are able to order at digital kiosks. They can also use their mobile phones to scan QR codes and order at their tables.

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REAL ESTATE

At the World Trade Center Mall, honoring heroes is an everyday thing

BY Al Urbanski

Outside the Oculus, the skeletal edifice that houses the World Trade Center’s transportation hub, thousands gathered this week to honor American heroes who lost their lives there on 9-11. Inside the Oculus, Westfield’s mall has been honoring America’s military heroes ever since it opened a year ago. Before any store opened its doors, Westfield staged a job fair aimed at enlisting veterans to come to work at Ground Zero.

Bill Hecht

It was two years ago that Bill Hecht decided to jump with both feet into a chain-wide community program for Westfield. The then new COO started with a desire to help veterans and a logical notion: get the community-minded people within the company to get the project going.

“I was keenly interested in doing more to help the veterans,” said Hecht, whose father was a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict. “I sent out a note to the company at large to see who else might be interested and I got responses from over 100 people.”

The big mall owner now has 50 employees involved in the Westfield Veterans Initiative (WVI), which provides veterans with one-on-one mentorship opportunities, supports retail entrepreneurship, and drives awareness for issues faced by transitioning service members.

Early on, WVI formed a relationship with The Rosie Network, an organization founded by Navy SEAL spouses to help counteract high unemployment rates among transitioning veterans through entrepreneurship. In July, Westfield Mission Valley in San Diego sponsored a Rosie Network Veteran Business Showcase where 29 veterans and military spouses were allowed to display their wares.

“Thanks to Westfield, our military entrepreneurs have a meaningful way to connect directly with consumers,” said Rosie Network founder Stephanie Brown.

The National Retail Federation and its RISE Up Initiative partnered with WVI at a veteran’s job fair at its Century City mall in June to advise veterans on how to acquire the necessary skills to turn retail jobs into promising careers in the industry.

The Veteran’s Initiative has taken root at Westfield, and Hecht says the experience has been as rewarding for Westfield and its employees as it’s been for veterans.

“One of the most pleasant outcomes of this program has been the involvement of a wide variety of different employees,” he said. “Leaders have emerged from this project who were not among the most senior people in the company.”


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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Marketers fear data quality is hurting digital ads

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Relevant, personalized messages are key to driving engagement, yet the quality of sourced data is negatively impacting results.

This was according to “More Data, More Problems: Trust, Transparency & Targeting in 2017.” The report from Bazaarvoice and Ad Age, is based on interviews of more than 300 agency and brand marketers.

Data from first- and third-party sources have become essential to reaching consumers with relevant and personalized messages that boost brand metrics and, ultimately, impact business. More than 60% of respondents said using their own internally collected first-party data is “very important” to their overall marketing strategy.

Additionally, respondents consider the ability to surface potential new customers as the No. 1 quality of “good” data. When asked what they considered the top indicator of “good” data, 50% of all respondents said engaging with ratings and reviews or product detail pages was the No. 1 indicator for predicting if a consumer will buy, the study revealed.

Despite the ubiquity of data among agencies and advertisers alike, marketers revealed that both the sources and quality of data they use is misunderstood and mistrusted. Of the 95% of the surveyed marketers that employ first- and third-party data in their media plans, 64% are not fully clear on the origins of their data sources. Additionally, nearly one-quarter of both brand marketers and agency buyers don’t know how often their data sources are refreshed.

Worse, three-out-of-four marketers surveyed said they are not entirely confident that their data is reaching in-market consumers. Further, only 23% of agency buyers are fully confident that their third-party data partners deliver against key performance indicators (KPIs).

“It’s clear that using data in digital advertising is not going away, but marketers must ask the right questions about their data and demand more transparency from their partners to achieve returns on their ad spend,” said Toby McKenna, senior VP of global advertising at Bazaarvoice. “Thirty-four percent of brand marketers and 24% of agency partners believe their data partnerships lack innovation, so there is a lot of room for improvement.”

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