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Brief Published: 18 Jun 2019

Sentiment-Reading M-Commerce Tech


Canadian start-up NexTech has collaborated with Microsoft’s AI cloud-computing service Azure on software to humanise the e-commerce experience – by turning smartphone cameras into sentiment-judging tools. With this facial-recognition-fuelled tech, retailers will be able to recalibrate and individualise on-screen prompts and nudges.

Eighty-one per cent of US adults now own a smartphone (PewResearch, 2019), and m-commerce sales are predicted to account for more than 50% of all e-commerce sales by 2021 (99firms.com, 2019). With consumers becoming increasingly wedded to their digital devices, the value of more sophisticated m-commerce analysis and communication tools is rising rapidly. 

In response, NexTech has upgraded its augmented reality (AR)-powered solution for e-tailers, which allows consumers to virtually try on products (beauty or sunglasses) by simply looking into a laptop or smartphone camera with emotion-sensing tech. Repurposing the front-facing smartphone lens (consumers have to opt in), NexTech’s Microsoft AI-infused technology can analyse consumers’ facial expressions every few seconds, subsequently creating on-screen prompts. A positive reaction (currently set to smiling) triggers ‘add to cart’, while a negative reaction activates a fresh set of recommendations to choose from.

Retailers have access to a dashboard that allows them to customise these prompts – such as by defining which action should follow which facial expressions. The AI-powered insights can then be used for personalised retargeting campaigns.

NexTech’s plug-and-play AR/AI solution can be integrated into retailers' apps and websites via a simple code. It’s compatible with e-commerce platforms Shopify, WordPress and Magneto, used by brands including beauty label Kylie Cosmetics and Canadian backpack brand Herschel Supply, and costs about $79 per month.

See also Emotional Retail Engagement, Reflexive Retail in our Liquid Retail Spotlight, CES 2018 x Retail: Emotion-Tracking VR Headset, and Facial Recognition Tech: 2018 Could be Crunch Year.