How Shopper Tracking Is Creating A More Sophisticated Retail Experience

With the help of partner iQ by Intel, PSFK looks at how advances in technology are helping retailers better serve their customers.

Whether you know it or not, retailers are tracking you. What you purchase, when and where you buy it, and how much you pay is all recorded and in many cases attached to a consumer profile. Why do you think loyalty cards exist? How do you think credit cards work? Any time you use a card, make an electronic transaction or interact in any way with a big retailer besides using cold hard cash, you leave behind a trail of data…but one that can be used to your benefit.

Companies do this so they can serve you, their customer, better. Whenever you’ve found just the item you were looking for in a store, saved some money with a discount, or reaped the rewards of a loyalty card, it’s the result of countless data being put towards making your shopping experience better. While shopper tracker is nothing new, today there are fascinating technologies that are helping retailers gain insight into shoppers’ behavior like never before. In this piece, created in partnership with iQ by Intel, PSFK looks at how these insights help optimize a retailer’s offerings for consumers, which in turn, improves the shopping experience.

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Shopper Tracking: Optimizing Retail Offerings And Perfecting the Shopping Experience

How do retailers know where to place items in a store? They track consumer behavior, watching to see how consumers shop in specific circumstances, settings, and with different incentives. For example, using already-existing mannequins that have cameras in place of vacant eyes, retailers can watch shoppers in a non-invasive way. The mannequin cameras register age, gender, race and facial expressions to determine mood and attention in the store. This data provides valuable information such as the effectiveness of displays and layout, or which areas get the most traffic and attention. To respect customer privacy, faces are digitized into just data so they cannot be recognized by humans.

It’s easy for a retailer to track purchase behavior when a sale occurs, but it’s difficult for them to know what led shoppers the the purchase decision. What did they look for, and for how long? What factors pushed them along the purchase path? To determine the specific placement and share of consumer attention for retail items, 3D motion and heat tracking cameras are placed over shelves and aisles. These determine what customers reach for and look at, creating heat maps of popular items like the one below.

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What’s truly high-tech, though, is the use of the already prevalent video security cameras in stores to capture visual intelligence, with the use of Intel processors and specialized software. By running in-store video through such a setup, retailers can determine conversion rates, optimal staffing levels, monitor traffic flows in the store and capture customer demographics. The tremendous amount of information gathered by the system is automatically analyzed so the feeds don’t have to be constantly monitored.

Watch a video below about how Intel’s Visual Intelligence System improves retail performance:

All of the examples above rely on extensive video systems, but there’s another option for retailers that doesn’t require anything but a mobile phone. Nomi is a startup that lets retailers track shoppers through their mobile phones, by allowing in-store wireless routers to pick up nearby phone signals and pull out completely anonymous, non-invasive data.

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It provides retailers with information like how many returning customers visit the store, the number of unique visits each day, and the average time spent in the store. Think of it like Google Analytics for a retailer!

What about the reciprocal side of shopper tracking- improved customer service and increased personalization? Continue reading here at iQ by Intel.

With the help of iQ by Intel, PSFK.com is exploring how technology impacts our lives. iQ by Intel connects readers to the trends and discussions that are moving our planet forward. To read more inspiring stories about how technology is unleashing the world’s human potential to create a better future visit iQ by Intel.

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