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.
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.