Retailers Tracking Consumers in Store Via Wi-Fi and Video Cameras

By Cameron Scott 

online privacy, facial recognition, facial detection, tracking, location, GPSAn increasing number of brick-and-mortar retailers are tracking consumers by their smart phone location or with video cameras to monitor how they move through the stores in what some see as an effort to even the playing field what online retailers who can track consumers using analytics, according to a New York Times report.

Stores using the technology include Family Dollar, Benetton and Warby Parker. They use the information to decide on matters like changing store layouts and offering customized coupons, according to the Times report.

Nordstrom tested the technology this spring in 17 of its stores, but pulled the test in part due to customer complaints. The store had posted notices for shoppers about the program.

The local Bay Area coffee shop Philz uses wi-fi signals from smart phones to count how many people walk by a store and how many enter.

Euclid, based in Palo Alto, uses smart phones to monitor consumers. Nordstrom and Philz used its services.

RetailNext, based in San Jose, Brickstream, of Atlanta, and Realeyes, of London, provide monitoring technology based on video feeds.

Nomi of New York, uses Wi-Fi to track customers’ behavior in a store, but goes one step further by matching a phone with an individual if the individual has downloaded its app.

SocialTimes was briefed in April by Jason Sosa, the CEO of IMRSV, a Time magazine startup-to-watch, that attempts to fill retailers’ demand for real-time consumer data with a lighter intrusion into consumers’ privacy. The company uses video cameras, but its cameras do not store any images. The software, called Cara, uses algorithms to detect a face, but doesn’t employ facial recognition techniques to try to identify the person. Cara identifies the person’s age range and gender and tracks where the consumer is standing and looking to measures how long s/he engages with particular items or displays.