Following consumer backlash toward Nordstrom after customers became aware that they were being tracked via their smartphone's media access control address, retailers must tread carefully when determining the right way to gather customer data.

An article on points out five slightly less invasive ways to track in-store customer behavior. Three are listed below in an excerpt from the post:

1. Wi-Fi Fingerprinting: Track Strength of a Signal

This technique tracks the Wi-Fi signal strength of a smartphone or tablet in the store. One leader in Wi-Fi fingerprinting, Bellevue, Wash.-based Point Inside, offers the service through a store's branded app as part of an opt-in loyalty program. The Wi-Fi signal strength reveals where a customer goes in the store, which then helps a retailer develop product placement strategies.

2. MEMS: Create a Heat Map of Customer Activity

To provide more exact tracking, retailers can use the microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) chip on a smartphone. MEMS data uses the accelerometer and gyroscope within a smartphone or tablet to show the exact angle, direction and position of the device. Point Inside already has the technology to read this data through an opt-in app, but this specific technique appeals to companies because it can create a precise heat map of how a customer has travelled through a store.

3. LED Lighting: Use Frequency Emissions to Determine Customer Location

That's right—one of the latest methods for tracking customers involves the LED lights in the store, and ByteLight is one early pioneer. Because an LED emits a particular frequency, a smartphone app can detect a specific frequency and therefore determine the exact location of a customer. From there, a store can track a customer's location and path around a store—and send "hyper targeting" content such as a special on that shirt on the rack that's right in front of a patron.

Read more about customer behavior.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Steven Anderson
    As a consumer, the idea that every step I take in a store is being tracked feels very Orwellian. As an employee in a store, I find it even creepier. This information combined with BYOD is disquieting, indeed.
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