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How Retailers Will Use Technology to Track Shoppers

tracking technology while shoppingHow we shop at retailers is changing thanks to technology. Retailers are jumping on the technology bandwagon to find ways to personalize your shopping experience and increase revenue.

Over the last month, many of us have spent some serious hours in various malls, retailers, and grocery stores preparing for the holidays. What if as we shopped, the TV screens in stores showed customized messaging, tailored toward us? What if as we put our milk in our cart, a message on our phone prompted us to not forget to get bread on aisle 3? Some of these features are slowly rolling out.

We can thank our smart phones for most of this high tech tracking. The most widely used technology is the WI-FI signal emitted from our smart phones. That signal can show our whereabouts down to a few meters.  This allows stores to see our shopping patterns as well as provide customized marketing opportunities.

According to a recent article on TechnologyReview.com:

…Don Dodge, a Google executive who has invested in several indoor location companies, believes the technology “will be bigger than GPS” or online maps. That’s because people spend most of their time indoors, he says, where GPS signals are often too weak to be useful.

Google has already expanded its maps to include diagrams of the inside of museums, airports, and large stores in 17 countries, like Hong Kong’s Tai Po Mega Mall. The company is betting maps will continue to gain importance for people on foot once it begins selling its head-mounted computer, [Google] Glass. “Indoor location is going to be huge,” Dodge says. “It’s going to be the biggest thing to hit retailing and couponing that we’ve ever seen.”

Nordstroms has already experienced backlash. Outraged customers complained about privacy issues when they began tracking customers in 17 stores using a Wi-Fi system developed by Euclid Analytics. They have since ended the test, but this new form of tracking does raise concern for privacy.

See how Apple is using iBeacon to track its customers via Bluetooth.

A few weeks ago, I was at Home Depot and was trying to find liquid sandpaper (thanks Pinterest!). The line was too long at the paint counter, so I pulled out my phone and Home Depot’s website. I was able to find the location of this product in the store in a matter of 30 seconds… BRILLIANT. If it weren’t for technology, this wouldn’t be possible.

Personally, I feel like we lost privacy a long time ago. We can’t go anywhere without a camera watching our whereabouts. Google seems to know more about us than we know about ourselves. And let’s not even get started with government tracking. It will be interesting to see how technology will completely change how we shop at grocery stores and retailers.

image source: morguefile.com

Is tracking shoppers a bad thing? Will this open up a whole new way for us to shop? Are you concerned about your privacy? Thoughts? 

More Babbles:

Molly blogs technologyparenting and geekery at Digital Mom Blog. Follow her on FacebookPinterest or Twitter.

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