7-Eleven Australia Deploys Facial Recognition Technology

It is part of an effort to collect feedback from customers.

June 23, 2020

MELBOURNE, Australia—7-Eleven in Australia is now using facial recognition technology as part of a customer feedback capture mechanism in about 700 stores. The company says the system is “not used for any other purpose.”

According to ITNews.com, customers of the Australian chain had reported seeing signs in store windows over the past few weeks. “Site is under constant video surveillance. By entering the store, you consent to facial recognition cameras capturing and storing your image,” the signs read.

A spokesperson for 7-Eleven Australia said the technology is tied to deployment of Rate It, a customer experience measurement tool that runs on a tablet device in-store. Customers can use the tablet and software to provide information about their store shopping experience. 

The Australian spokesperson said that the “use of facial recognition within the Rate It tablet is to ensure that the feedback is accurate and valid, and given customer feedback is so important to us we don’t want the system being ‘gamed.’” 

If customers don’t use the feedback tablets, their images aren’t recorded. The camera is only activated when customers start to interact with the Rate It system.

“The data captured by the tablet is a 'biometric blurring' and only an encrypted algorithmic representation of the image is recorded,” the spokesperson said. "This encrypted algorithmic representation is stored by Rate It for seven days for the validation to occur, after which they are permanently destroyed. 7-Eleven does not have access to this encrypted data.”

The spokesperson said the signs at the store entries alert customers that they may be recorded once they enter the store. Rate It is being used in place of a manual customer feedback system.

“We are replacing the outdated practice of having people with a clipboard and pencil with a tablet so customers can give us immediate feedback on their experience in real time and allow us to act on our learnings swiftly at a store level,” the spokesperson said.

7-Eleven uses different facial recognition technology in other markets such as Thailand.

For a closer look at the greater Southeast Asian area of the world’s c-store channel, join NACS at the 2021 Convenience Summit Asia in Bangkok, March 2–4. Click here for more information.