In-Store Tracking is it the Same Thing as the Internet?


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I have become very intrigued about the latest technology which tracks your smart phone in a store without you knowing it. This technology captures your phones MAC address off the wireless network and then with specialized devices keeps track of that MAC address (you!). This is not just on this occasion but any occasion there after it knows it is you or at least your phone. All of this information is then consolidated and analyzed to provide very interesting information like:

Number of visitors per day
Avg. time spent per visit
Number new visitors
Number repeating visitors
Number of visits
Avg. time spent by area (zone)
Number of days from last visit
Walk by traffic vs. walk in traffic

The idea is that this tracking is no different than what happens when you are on the internet and using Google analytics. Your IP address is exposed, used and analyzed for all sorts of things that you know and don’t know about. So is your reaction to this technology that it is a good thing, a bad thing or just another version of what is already being captured about your movements? My first reaction was that this is intrusive and I should be told this tracking is happening! Really, that would mean all of these video cameras placed everywhere now including retail stores should notify me and give me a choice as to whether they can record me. I am actually only giving my MAC address without any personal information like my IP address on my computer. What if a retailer could connect you and all of your personal shopping data to this MAC address? You then become a person walking around the store not a series of numbers. What if you had a trusted relationship with this retailer and could opt in allowing the retailer to offer you direct promotions based on your particular wants and desires? The retailer could even begin to map your travels in their store and better understand where and what you spend your time doing. Is this something you would opt in to receive or do you believe it is just too creepy?

Amazon does this on the internet and is forever refining what they offer or suggest for me to purchase. They have now gone so far as to ask me to give them additional information about the what and why of the items I purchased. BTW, I really like Amazon and the value they bring me! So is this location based tracking with real-time offers in the store significantly different than what Amazon is doing today on the internet? Is this in fact the “next turn of the crank” in technology to significantly improve the customer experience? I think these sorts of technologies ride on a slippery slope, but as I stated earlier we are all ready “pregnant”. As long as the retailer uses your information to provide you with better product offers and services while never betraying your trust, I believe it might be just the thing to bridge the omni-channel world. Please give me your thoughts.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Will Roche
Will Roche has over 30 years' experience working in IT with most of his experience in retail and hospitality. Will spent 23 years at IBM with 15 years in retail roles developing product and services delivering new offerings for IBM's retail business. He was responsible for the development and execution of IBM's first industry distribution channel for retail and hospitality which served the mid-market. Will joined Microsoft in 2002 as a founding member of Microsoft's industry business, with a focus on retail. He left Microsoft in 2012 for the Global Senior Vice President role at Raymark.


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