Retailers are trying to learn the shopping habits of customers this holiday season. Several new technologies have recently been introduced to make tracking customers easier:
• Smart shelves: This light-sensing technology detects how long a shopper is standing next to an item, if he or she picks it up, and if the shopper puts it back down.
• Traffic Monitors: Cameras detect humans and movement to track how many people enter and where they go in the store.
• Smart Carts: Customers create and upload their shopping lists while at home. The customer can view the list from a screen attached to the shopping cart. The store can then track shoppers’ walking and purchasing patterns.
• Footpath Technology: Customers are tracked by their mobile phones pinging transponders throughout the mall. The real-time reports can show how many visitors there are, how many are “walk-through” as opposed to true shoppers, and what stores they have gone to and how long they have stayed in each store (“dwell-time”). The only way a customer can opt out is by turning his or her phone off. If this sounds a little Big Brother to you, you are not alone: Congress is raising concerns about privacy issues and how safe footpath technology is.
Author: Susan Hallinan