Is Retail Shopper Tracking in Store for 2017?

This year, retailers may be in store for better shopper tracking and analysis with the arrival of Zebra technology. Up until now, brick-and-mortar retailers didn’t have the same kind of tracking information about shoppers’ in-store habits as their e-tail rivals. But, Zebra could bring that purchasing power directly to retailers through the installation of in-store sensor grids that mix video with radio frequency ID product tags and mobile device signal tracking. The technology is already being tested by a few retailers, but interest is expected to rise after its debut at the recent National Retail Federation “Big” show. shared the details behind the technology.

Experts say that one of the biggest problems with brick-and-mortar retail is obtaining real-time information about the customer experience in the store. Retailers just don’t have the same amount of digital information as e-tailers about shoppers’ behaviors while in the store. They also only have about half as much inventory accuracy because they have no way of knowing if they’ve lost a shopper due to a lack of inventory or a competitor’s price. As a result, retailers have been at a major disadvantage and it’s hurting their bottom line.

But now, Zebra technology could help retailers level the playing field. With Zebra, retailers could track what shoppers originally wanted, but didn’t buy in the store. However, with current consumer privacy concerns, retailers prefer to view the technology as a way to offer shoppers greater convenience and better in-store experiences based on their location information. Consumers always have the option to opt-out of being tracked since the process requires installing the store’s app on their mobile device and opting-in to the tracking service.

Another benefit of Zebra technology is how it can help reduce theft by both shoppers and employees. Its RFDI sensors could stop theft in its tracks by triggering a security alert. These sensors could also help evaluate and improve employee performance by tracking the amount of time they engage with shoppers.

Experts predict that Zebra technology could become a retail reality within the next decade. While the technology is nothing new and has long been used in healthcare, manufacturing, and sports, its usage in stores would be slightly different. Zebra would outfit stores with grids of sensors about every 50 feet. These sensors would have video, micro-location, and RFID reading capabilities to monitor shoppers or employees through their tracking-enabled smartphones. Over time, the sensor data collected could potentially help retailers understand which products, promotional displays, and in-store marketing efforts were most effective at generating sales.

With Zebra technology, both retail stores and shoppers could reap the rewards of a better in-store experience.

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