Stores Using Floor Sensors to Track Customer Activity

The latest tactic to combat online retail
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2018 4:45 PM CST
In this photo taken Dec. 5, 2017, Scanalytics co-founder and CEO Joe Scanlin holds a smart floor sensor his company creates that track people's movements in Milwaukee. The sensors are among the tools...   (AP Photo/Ivan Moreno)
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(Newser) – Online clicks give retailers valuable insight into consumer behavior, but what can they learn from footsteps? It's a question Milwaukee-based startup Scanalytics is helping businesses explore with floor sensors that track people's movements, highlighting one of several efforts brick-and-mortar stores are undertaking to better understand consumer habits and catch up with e-commerce giant Amazon. For instance, the sensors can read a customer's unique foot compressions to track that person's path to a digital display and how long the person stands in front of it before walking away. Based on data collected over time, the floor sensors can tell a retailer the best time to offer a coupon or change the display before the customer loses interest.

Wisconsin-based bicycle retailer Wheel and Sprocket uses Scanalytics' sensors—which can be tucked under utility mats—to count the number of customers entering each of its eight stores to help schedule staff. The company wants to eventually have sensors in more areas throughout the store to measure where customers spend most of their time and what products are popular, but it's too expensive right now. The cost of having the sensors ranges from $20 to $1,000 per month, depending on square footage and add-on applications to analyze data or interact with digital signs. The emergence of tracking technologies is bound to raise concerns about privacy and surveillance, but Scanalytics CEO Joe Scanlin says his sensors don't collect personally identifying information.

(Read more sensors stories.)

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