Brick-and-Mortar Stores: Driven By Technology

Large online companies have been gathering customer’s buying and browsing habits for years: length of time products live in a shopping cart, what products visitors are considering, purchase conversion, the likelihood of purchase based on discount response – the list goes on and on.

Brick-and-mortar stores realized that they needed more customer data to combat online powerhouses and until now, hadn’t had the luxury to do so.

In-store cameras are popping up to track how long customers view store displays. Signals can be tracked, allowing brick-and-mortar stores to determine what sections customers lingered in and their path throughout the store. Some are using the GPS signals on customer’s phones to lure them into their stores, while other apps track cell phone signals to identify shoppers and send coupons to their phones.

This isn’t necessarily news, either. It came out from the New York Times last spring that “all sorts of retailers — including national chains, like Family Dollar, Cabela’s and Mothercare, a British company, and specialty stores like Benetton and Warby Parker — are testing these technologies and using them to decide on matters like changing store layouts and offering customized coupons.”

The most interesting point to think about is the way that retail shopping has evolved: everything – literally, everything – either is incorporating mobile technology or is driven by it.

“Watching where people go in a store is like watching how they looked at a second or third Web page” on an online retailer, said Ralph Crabtree, Brickstream’s chief technical officer.

Whether or not this practice is invasive has been thrown around quite a bit, but we feel that if retailers are able to find more elusive ways to use this technology, it’ll mean more sales for retailers and happier customers.