David BECK analyzes technological issues from a political, economic and management perspective.

Age verification for online and local retailers

David BECK Academic - Society, Politics & Techology

What are solutions to buying age-restricted products in supermarkets and driving responsible alcohol sales online.

An age verification app allows customers to simply and securely prove their age when using their debit card to buy alcoholic beverages. It also makes it harder for children to bypass the policy they face in shops, which is notoriously hard for retailers to enforce online.

It was too easy for young people to fake their age online

How do retailers know that people accessing their age-restricted goods or services are above the required age limit? According to Lexis Nexus, 37% of companies are concerned about selling online age-restricted goods to young people and 79% are planning to strengthen their age verification process. Currently, they have to rely on a checkbox or age affirmation page to tell them that someone is over 18. Plus, many retailers are forced to lose sales if customers cannot pay with credit card verification. This system is broken.

Apps help people prove their age at online shop and any other site in seconds. Because the app combines a photo and government issued ID document to create a digital identity, young people will no longer be able to sneak their way past online checkout with a basketful of age-restricted goods.

Your ID in your local retail store

Supermarkets as we know them today are vastly different from the ones we were used to twenty years ago. Doing the weekly shop is quicker and easier thanks to supermarkets implementing technological solutions like scan-as-you-shop and self-checkout terminals. Shoppers are becoming increasingly independent, but how can supermarkets assure that their customers are old enough to buy age-restricted products with minimal staff intervention and manual ID checks?

Supermarkets are looking to adopt new ways to check that their customers are old enough to buy age-restricted products. By embedding our leading age verification technology into their self-checkout terminals, supermarkets could reduce the amount of time customers spend scanning and paying for their shopping. 

An age estimation tech can instantly estimate a customer’s age via facial analysis – no ID document or pre-registration needed.

How it works:

  • Customers simply look at the camera on the self-checkout and have their age estimated based on their facial biometrics.
  • If the result of the estimation is above the threshold set by the supermarket, then the customer can continue to pay for their items.
  • If the result of the estimation is below the threshold, the customer can use their digital ID to prove their age.

Make life easier…

… for staff:

  • Efficient: ID checks account for 50% of staff interventions at self-checkouts. The innovative age verification technology would empower customers to prove their age independently of staff, who can focus on other tasks in the supermarket.
  • Safe: Year-on-year, age-restricted sales are an overwhelming trigger for abuse and violence towards supermarket staff. Age verification tech could reduce contact between staff and shoppers, removing some of the friction created by manual checks.
  • Accurate: The age estimation technology is more accurate at detecting age than humans. There are several reasons why an employee might not accurately complete age checks. For example, tiredness, biases, or falling prey to fake IDs. This takes the pressure off human error and helps businesses avoid hefty fines for selling age-restricted goods to minors.

… and customers:

  • Faster: Age checks can be done in real-time with accurate age estimations taking less than 5 seconds, dramatically reducing the time spent at checkouts.
  • Accessible: Studies show that about 4.5 million adults in the UK do not own an in-date, recognizable ID. Age estimation would allow them to prove their age without carrying a physical ID card.
  • More convenient: We’re rarely without our phones, or our face for that matter. Shoppers would no longer be denied a sale if they forget their ID document, nor would they risk losing their valuable ID documents, like a passport or driving license. See what these customers thought of our age estimation solution at the self-checkout.

From the customer’s perspective, it’s a convenient and private way to prove they’re over 16 or over 18. Not only can they leave valuable identity documents at home, they can also avoid sharing any other personal information that would typically be printed on their ID document, like their name, address or date of birth.

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