Inc. Wire: In-Store Analytics Tools Offer a Look at Customer Behavior

December 21, 2011 | Coverage

Who says analytics are only for online retailers? New technology gives brick-and-mortar shops valuable insights about their customers.

It’s easy to track shoppers’ behavior on the Web, thanks to tools like Google Analytics, but brick-and-mortar stores have few resources available to help them analyze customers’ actions.

That’s beginning to change, thanks to sophisticated in-store technology.

England’s Path Intelligence sells a product that allows retailers to track customers’ paths through a store using their cell phone signals. The service, used primarily in Europe, can also help store owners determine their visitors’ nationality by identifying their phone numbers’ country codes.

Video analytics services including RetailNext and 3VR help retailers gather analytics data from security footage by tracking which parts of the store receive the most foot traffic, and determining which products customers look at most frequently.

3VR, which is used in T-Mobile’s retail stores, has recently added facial identification tools to its software, which can help retailers glean valuable demographics data from their video footage.

These in-store analytics tools aren’t likely to gain widespread traction in the United States immediately. Some government officials have expressed concerns about whether such technology may violate shoppers’ privacy, so retailers are being cautious.

Still, Mark Rasch, director of cybersecurity and privacy at CSC, a technology consulting firm, tells Bloomberg Businessweek, these tracking measures are “no more intrusive than what online retailers do.”

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