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Verizon 5G Labs Retail Challenge

5G has the potential to transform the retail experience. Faster mobile connectivity will unlock and scale new experiences that offer customers and retailers new ways to run their business. Paired with a startup, FaceNote, focused on facial recognition, we worked to uncover scalable solutions in coffee retail and presented demo solutions on the 5G node for the 2020 National Retail Federation Conference.


UX  Design/ Research, Ethnography, Pitch & Demo


Adalyn Lou | UX Designer

Mariano Constanzo CTO, FaceNote

Eduardo Rivara CEO, FaceNote


7-Week Design Sprint
Nov - Jan 2020

The Issue

"How can we leverage 5G technology and facial recognition to transform retail experiences in New York City's coffee chains?"


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User Research

To define users' current behavior with coffee retailers we conducted a multi-methodology research study. In doing so, we wanted to understand their current coffee-drinking experience, how they feel about loyalty programs, & the current use of technology in this setting.

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Contextual Inquiry


Market Research


Contextual Inquiry

What defines the users' coffee shop experience? (10 participants)


How do users' feel about coffee shops, and loyalty programs? 

Finding 1: Coffee Shops Serve Multiple Purposes
People come into the shop for different activities than just buying coffee. Customers' reasons for visiting ranged from studying, meeting with friends, to capturing a perfect Instagram picture of the famous "Deconstructed Latte." From this finding, we learned to account for unique user types.

Finding 2: People like capturing and sharing their coffee shop experiences
More than half of the customers who sat in took a photo before drinking their coffee. Likewise, friends often sought out iconic spots in the shop (ex. LED sign) to take group photos.

Finding 3: Loyalty card overlooked or misplaced 
8/10 customers weren't aware of the stamp card to collect rewards. Customers who are interested in rewards, often forget or lose their cards. Additionally, the long line of customers and the busy nature of the shop made it a little harder for baristas to remember to hand these out unless asked. 

Market Research

What is the current use of technology in this setting?

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Bigger chains favor fast-paced in-person & digital user flows for their apps focused mainly on streamlining the transaction experience at the expense of personalization. Starbucks is the exception to this.

Smaller chains favor a slower-paced approach by adding personalization to their flows in favor of creating a personalized in-person experience. (Ex. Asking dietary questions, birthday reward preference)
When asked, users seemed to favor having some form of personalization to their app experience



After synthesizing our findings, we defined 3 user types: The Regular, Efficiency Coffee, and The Insider.

Regular Customer:
Visit for the comfortable environment, friendly staff, and great coffee. They like being acknowledged.

Efficiency Coffee: 
Their goal is to get in and out as fast as possible. They’re stressed and in a hurry and don’t have time to socialize. 

The Insider: 
Social media wizards who take any opportunity to promote their everyday life on instagram, and love being surprised.

Main Findings

 1. "Customers want a personalized and memorable coffee shop experiences without the hassle of long waiting times"

2."Customers want to be recognized and awarded for their loyalty. However, loyalty programs are time-consuming, lacks personalization, and are expensive to implement."

Area of Opportunity

Frictionless Loyalty

Facial recognition on 5G node makes registration & reward redemption instant

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Eliminates the hassle of losing or looking for paper loyalty cards

Gives busy baristas time back from managing rewards

Business benefits from an increase in returning users & user insights from loyal customers

Opportunity to provide users with accurate real-time recommendations 


After defining our design concept, we began developing a final design by creating initial sketches, deciding the main features of the prototype, and creating a final user flow. 


Initial sketches focused on illustrating loyalty card flow


FaceNote's Initial UI



Final Functions


Frictionless loyalty and digital stamp




Interactive filters or

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Final  User Flow / Emotional Map

Testing Flows

Initial Tests:
We tested the loyalty prototype by applying Facenote's early UI and the user flow above to see its viability. A question we pondered, was the need to add an extra security measure using the phone. We tested both approaches.

Through user testing, we determined involving the phone for added security measurement was redundant, unnecessary, and delayed the process. Likewise, it interrupted baristas' work.  Having finalized our flow we moved on to iterating the UI for development.



Due to technical constraints, we were limited in changes we could make to the format of the initial UI. However, we could manipulate color, text, and add some imagery. Regarding color selection, we wanted the UI to resemble coffee and feel inviting to users given some hesitance toward facial recognition. Likewise, for this reason, the UI writing was changed from "Pay with your face!" to "Smile for a coffee!" We hoped this greeting would welcome guests and incentivize them to interact with the Interface by using something more familiar a "Selfie." 


FaceNote's Initial UI


Redesigning the UI