License plate recognition could be the new big thing at American drive-thrus, according to FT. Chains are now looking to deploy cameras that recognize license plates and help identify customers, personalizing digital menus and speeding up sales.
Starbucks began a pilot program in Korea last year with customers who voluntarily pre-registered their cars and now restaurants in the United States are looking to also give it a try. License plate recognition has existed since the 1970s but has mostly been associated with law-enforcement. Cameras attached to police cars or street fixtures read the license plates of passing vehicles and compare results to databases.
But as the cost of the software comes down, uses for LPR have grown. For retailers, LPR can help identify repeat customers, allowing businesses to link a customer’s credit card and order history up to a vehicle.
Customers who are signed up to loyalty programs or apps can load their information in voluntarily and cameras in the drive-thru lanes can also take photos of car plates. Software will then determine whether or not it belongs to a recurring customer that the restaurant has information for.
LPR start up 5Thru said that several chains in the U.S. and Canada were trying out its technology. It is expected to sign its first major contract by the end of the year.
Chief executive Daniel McCann said:
“5Thru’s technology helped restaurants process around an extra 30 cars a day, by reducing order time. The artificial intelligence-driven system also improves upselling by recommending items based on a customer’s past orders, the weather and how busy a store’s kitchen is.”
Tracking customers using cameras is just another way stores are seeking to become more efficient in the age of online shopping. Recall, we posted a couple months ago a story about how are malls were tracking people’s locations using their smartphones in order to help bolster business.
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