When the supermarket checks your cell


It is increasingly difficult for traditional shops to compete with e-commerce. The enormous amount of information that e-shops can obtain by analyzing consumer traffic on their sites (when they buy, what, where, what they prefer, etc.), offers web companies the opportunity to formulate personalized and timely proposals to be often unbeatable.

And so the chains of traditional distribution, in order to survive, must always come up with new commercial formulas but also new ways to get to know customers.

The super is watching you
One of the most driven has been developed by Nordstorm, an American department store chain, which for some time has begun to track the shifts and routes made by customers within its stores following the electronic track left in the ether by the their smartphone.
Very advanced marketing or unacceptable privacy violation? Opinions are obviously conflicting. What is certain is that the company does not deny having received several complaints from customers, a bit annoyed by the signs that warned of the tracking inside the shops. On the other hand it is understandable that someone has not liked the idea of ​​being observed while buying incontinence products, a mouthwash against halitosis or a hemorrhoid cream.
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They know all about you
But what information does the company obtain with such a system? Many and precious: for example, you can find out a lot about the preferences of customers, how they buy, how often they return to the store, how they change the way they choose in front of shop windows or benches set up in different ways, etc. The same data that we leave in the various e-commerce sites during each visit.
But if nobody seems to worry about leaving a digital track, the idea of ​​being followed inside a store seems an unbearable form of commercial stalking. To the point that Nordstorm, after a few months of testing, suspended the operation. However, the practice, at least overseas, seems particularly widespread.
"It is not the privacy violation that has to worry, but the power to influence our decisions that is put into the hands of the sellers, " explains Bradley Voytek, a neuroscientist at Berkley University, in an interview with the New York Times.
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Candid Camera at the cash desk
Other companies have approached the topic in a less invasive way, at least in appearance, and are limited to studying customer behavior by analyzing the videos recorded by the surveillance cameras. Sometimes these technologies are also made available to customers: Brikstream, a company specializing in marketing analysis, has created a camera and software capable of distinguishing adults from children and counting how many people are present in every moment in the various departments of a large warehouse, so as to optimize the opening and closing of the boxes and reduce queues.
But there are those who go further: the Londoner Realeyes has created such sophisticated cameras to recognize the mood of the customers in front of an exhibitor or at the cash register, at the time of the account. "If you're a man in your thirties, it's Friday night and you're sad, we could offer you a bottle of whiskey, " Ekaterina Savchenko, marketing manager of Synqyera, a Russian company operating in the same business, told New York Times. But if I'm sad, won't it be my business?
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Little expense, so much yield
These technologies are at their best when combined with information provided voluntarily by customers. If a customer has installed a store app on his smartphone, each time he crosses the store's threshold, he can be targeted with special offers, coupons and personalized discount coupons directly on the phone.
But how much do these devils cost? Not much. Walkbase, offers just over 150 euros a month a device that can track mobile phones in a store and record their movements by displaying them on a map. Privacy enthusiasts are advised.
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