Another great story about big data and Big Brother. This one discusses how some stores are using your own mobile phone and the wifi to track your movements within the store. Click here for article. After reading how my child’s diapers might be providing data to doctors and potentially marketers, now I read that I could be watched when I am in my favorite store. What in the name of Big Brother is going on out there??? Well really nothing new. Before we start clamoring that our privacy has been violated and how this is a treat to our civil liberties, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that this type of tracking is something new. Whenever we are online…someone is tracking our clicks, understanding what is the path to purchase or the path to information we take. You don’t think that someone is not leveraging your purchase patterns to determine what item you may purchase next or which item you will need to replenish? I remember one year where I was making large purchases, on my credit card. It was a “life event” year. And surprise surprise, I started receiving very different marketing offers both in the mail and online. Wonder if anyone had noticed my new spending habits? No surprise, when that spending style did not continue, the marketing offers soon disappeared.
It should come as no surprise then that some retailers are using your own phone to track your physical behavior within a store. With the ability to gather and analysis the data, the retailers and suppliers are looking to better understand what makes us tick when we walk in the store. Does something catch one’s eye and make them more likely to purchase? Does placing the ties near the dress shirts near the suits mean someone who was only looking to buy a suit, might leave with a new tie and shirt as well? Store lay outs and merchandise placements are both a science and an art. You want customers to find what they are looking for, but you also want them to “discover” what they did not know they needed but once they find it, cannot leave without it. Retailers are masters at understanding what makes sense in their lay outs – ever notice that toys for younger children are always on the lower shelves…make sure that target customer actually sees the new toy and makes sure they then tell their parents they want it. I have even noticed stores like Target place small “impulse” buy toys like mini legos, at eye level (for kids) at the check out counter. They know that you are most likely going to be standing still at that point, unloading your cart, what better time than to put an “inexpensive” $5 toy right in front of your kid!
Don’t be surprised as more retailers leverage technology such as wifi, face recognition software, store video cameras or even motion sensors to track your behavior and movements within a store. From a supply chain stand point, think about how you could leverage all this real time behavior and demand data. Could supply chains leverage this extra piece of consumer data into their engines?
End of the day we go into to stores, usually, to buy or look for some merchandise. If the retailer can make that experience a little better for us and potentially more profitable for them, who are we to complain?
As the line goes – A guy don’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy – Glen Garry Glen Ross