OPERATIONS

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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Study: Millennials put a premium on store associates

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Generation Y may be tech-savvy, but for many, store employees still play a pivotal role in their overall shopping experience.

In fact, 63% of shoppers aged 18-35 see store associates as extremely important to their retail experience, according to the “Store Associates Report,” from ChargeItSpot. The study is based on responses from more than 600 shoppers at malls across the country.

Another 28% said that store associates are somewhat important. Only 9% of Gen Y customers deemed associates as unimportant to their shopping experience.

While approximately half (49%) of Baby Boomers said store associates are extremely important to their shopping experience, 24% would be comfortable with doing away with this human interaction.

“Retailers strive to deliver rewarding experiences to shoppers every time they enter a store,” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and founder of ChargeItSpot. “Store associates represent the brand and are there to help shoppers with their needs. Our survey found that even young shoppers see the added value of having a human interaction when they enter a store.”

When asked if they would shop at a store where bots replaced human workers, 42% of Millennials said they would not; 27% said they would, and 30% said they might. While Boomers are comfortable with less human interaction, 51% said they are not yet ready to shop in a store where bots replaced workers. Almost one-in-five (19%) would shop in a store controlled by bots, and 30% said they might be willing to shop in these automated stores.

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Walmart pledges up to $30 million in hurricane relief, Target raises commitment

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is stepping up its efforts to help those impacted by the hurricanes.

The discount giant announced that it will donate up to $10 million in additional support for 2017 hurricane relief efforts in the United States, a move that will bring Walmart’s total commitment to hurricane relief efforts this year to $30 million. This additional support comes on the heels of donations already provided in response to Hurricane Harvey that hit the Gulf region less than three weeks ago.

To raise funds for those affected by the devastating storms and flooding hitting the United States, Walmart is launching a new customer campaign with the American Red Cross. Walmart will match customer donations two-to-one with cash and product donations of up to $10 million. These donations will provide shelter, food, comfort and emergency assistance to those impacted by hurricanes in 2017.

The discounter is accepting donations at Walmart and Sam’s Clubs stores, online and via text through September 16, 2017. Donations will be distributed to the areas of greatest need throughout the country during this year’s hurricane season, according to Walmart.

In addition, Walmart has shipped more than 1,700 truckloads of emergency merchandise and water to customers in need. This includes cleaning supplies, pet food, batteries, diapers, baby formula, hand sanitizer, first aid supplies, fans, generators, candles, flashlights, propane, rainwear, tarps, gas cans, and related items.

Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies will also provide prescriptions and immunizations during and after the emergency, including working with displaced patients or those who have previously received prescriptions from another pharmacy.

The discounter is also taking steps to ensure the safety of its associates in affected areas. In addition to reinforcing emergency procedures and what to do during and after the storm among store and club location management teams, Walmart is supporting affected associates with access to earned-wage and disaster-support assistance, support centers, hot meals and wellness checks. Through Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which tracks storm impacts and supports associates needs and well-being, the chain will also ship emergency supplies to multiple shelter operations.

Meanwhile, Walmart is activating emergency support teams dedicated to stores and club locations, including subject-matter experts in logistics and emergency management to assist local emergency operations centers.

Target is also upping its commitment to support communities impacted by Hurricane Irma, starting with a pledge of up to $1 million in cash and in-kind donations. This is in addition to the $3.5 million that the company already committed last week for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Similar to efforts it made for Hurricane Harvey, the discounter will continue to match employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1 million. Target team members will have the option to donate to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma or both relief funds.

Donations will be shared among several national, local and international community organizations that focus on community relief, including the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, UNICEF and Save The Children.

Meanwhile, when its distribution facilities reopen later this week, Target’s supply chain teams will immediately begin pushing products to impacted Target stores, including some trailers that were pre-loaded to distribute before the hurricane hit, according to the company.

Target will also enable team members employed at stores that are currently closed to pick up shifts at neighboring Target stores. The company will also pay eligible team members while locations are closed.

To prepare for the storm, the chain closed more than 120 stores and four distribution facilities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

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