Retail Technology Tracks Your Every Move

Cameras aren’t just for deterring shoplifting. Video analytics can tell a retailer the age and gender of shoppers, what they touch and where they go in a store.

“We had a store targeting the Millennial crowd when it turned out it was Gen X shopping there,” said Shelley Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext.

RetailNext’s software also allows retailers to view the store as a heat map to pinpoint highly-trafficked sections of the store. “If you know where people spend the most time in your store, you place specific items in their path,” she said.

Every smartphones has a unique MAC address that’s visible when it’s searching for WiFi or Bluetooth. It can tell retailers where that phone goes in the store and whether it’s visited before.

When tracked, the number can help retailers determine whether sales or window displays draw in more customers, the wait time in check-out lines and how long a shopper stands in a certain department.

Don’t want to be tracked? Disable WiFi. Retailers can place small pieces of hardware called iBeacons throughout a store to track shoppers’ movements. The devices send out messages to sensors inside your mobile phone and detail its location. (These sensors, which are in nearly every phone, help with games and make a screen switch from normal mode to landscape.)

iBeacons can be placed anywhere in the store, including on products, to alert when they are picked up, added to a cart or put back on the shelf, explained Kohen.