Tracking Shoppers

shopper with shopping cart standing in a target, illustration - Credit: TC Group Solutions

Communications of the ACM, February 2020, Vol. 63 No. 2, Pages 19-21
News: “Tracking Shoppers
By Keith Kirkpatrick

Most people are aware that if they use the Internet, social media sites, or electronic payment systems, their activity is tracked, thereby creating a digital footprint and roadmap that can reveal a significant amount of personal data and activity patterns. Online retailers and marketers are leveraging (some may say exploiting) this treasure trove of data, helping them craft advertisements and marketing messages that specifically target consumers in the hopes of driving sales, or creating a deeper level of engagement with customers.


It is no surprise physical brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to replicate the engagement strategies that have worked well for their online counterparts (or which they themselves have used online). Using a combination of technology and social engineering, retailers are tracking shoppers in and around their stores to leverage shopping and behavioral data to increase sales, build greater customer loyalty and, in some cases, deter or thwart theft or fraud.



Indeed, according to Retail Systems Research, a research company that tracks technology use by predominantly North American retailers, 61% of those surveyed in 2018 said they see potential value in technology that tracks shoppers as they walk through the store, up from 51% the year before. Similarly, the use of in-store cameras and video analytics for customer experience purposes hit an interest level of 49% in 2018, up from 43% in 2017.

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About the Author:

Keith Kirkpatrick is principal of 4K Research & Consulting, LLC, based in New York.