In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rampaged the world. Many countries were on high alert and prohibited people from going outdoors freely. Such measures effectively controlled the virus, but it took a heavy toll on the economic development around the world. The retail and food services industry was one of the industries that borne the biggest brunt of the pandemic. CEO at DataVan, Kris Hsu, stated that although the restrictions imposed reduced in-store consumption revenue within the retail and food services industry, they also led to new business opportunities.
In addition to delivery and take away services that have seen enormous growth for the past year, many business owners are gradually introducing contactless unmanned stores and facial recognition security systems. This is all in the hopes of driving the business transformation through the power of new technologies.
Hsu further stated that amid the pandemic that has been spreading for over a year, the greatest change to the retail and food service industry is that food delivery services became the dominant business model. Under this model, there will inevitably be fewer store personnel. To maintain normal operation with limited manpower, remote monitoring became an important trend in IT systems within the retail and food service industry. Management systems that have remote monitoring functions can monitor point of sale (POS) status directly from the back-end, enabling sufficient understanding of data from each store branch to optimize management efficiency.
In addition to POS remote monitoring, another trend in the retail industry is unmanned stores. Take the most well-known Amazon GO for example; after its launch in 2018, although its concept was well acclaimed, integration in the market was limited. This changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon now allows retailers to use its core technology called "Just Walk Out" by licensing the technology to build more unmanned stores. Hsu admitted that Taiwan has yet to accept unmanned stores. Most consumers still prefer to use services that require store personnel. In spite of this, we can still implement relevant concepts such as self-service counters where store clerks only provide assistance when consumers face technical issues. Some large business owners have already tried to integrate remote monitoring and self-service counters in Taiwan's retail industry to seize the opportunity to transform their businesses amid the pandemic.
As business owners are changing business models, they are also cooperating to curb the spread of the virus. According to Hsu, although we may be able to control the pandemic, humans will still need to co-exist with the virus. The retail and food service industry therefore has the responsibility to provide safe consumption and working environments for consumers and workers. To curb the spread more effectively, he suggests that business owners should make use of the power of new technologies. For instance, install temperature detection and facial recognition platforms at the entrance of shopping malls or restaurants. Businesses should aim to accurately detect the identity and temperature of those entering the building without causing inconvenience to the customers.
In order to meet the business needs of retail and food business owners amid the pandemic, DataVan launched a series of solutions. When it comes to POS management systems, the Company launched the cloud software platform—DataVan Central. This platform can remotely monitor POS status and troubleshoot issues. In addition, store personnel do not need to close the register at the end of a business day via POS machines, they can do it via the cloud. This boosts management efficiency; thus, POS is more in line with actual business requirements.
As for COVID-19 prevention, DataVan's Facelook X1 integrated contactless temperature detection and facial recognition technologies. Hsu stated that Facelook X1 has features such as quick facial recognition, accurate temperature detection and is easy and fast to install. Facelook X1 has been well acclaimed by many enterprises since its launch. Compared to similar products on the market, Facelook X1's greatest feature is that it integrates AI algorithms that enable smart learning. Its facial recognition capabilities can maintain a high accuracy rate - 99.25% - even if a person is wearing a mask. In addition, the system can also detect those who are not wearing a mask and immediately send alert signals to lower the risk of infection.
Furthermore, with great expandability capabilities, Facelook X1's applications allow for more flexibility. For example, it can be integrated into 2D scanners and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) modules to detect ID cards, Health Insurance cards, membership cards, tickets, etc. This satisfies the diverse requirements of business owners and brings forth more application scenarios.
Hsu suggested that there is opportunity in every crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed brought immense challenges to different industries, but it is also an opportunity for businesses to transform themselves. DataVan's all-round solutions can assist enterprises to adjust their business models, helping them seize new business opportunities during the pandemic.