Retail Customer Tracking Technology

Types of Tracking

Some stores such as Walmart use motion censored cameras that have facial recognition software to track what the customer is buying, track what they stop to look at and record  how long it takes them to decide to purchase an item.

Prism sky-labs use heat maps along with security camera images to find out what shoppers are most interested in. The heat maps use color to determine where shoppers spent the most time and what items they were looking at. The amount of time they spend may indicate that the item is overpriced .


Data Information

Other stores like Nordstroms have conducted tests to gather information about its customers.  They would get information off of smart phones of their customers by Bluetooth and their WiFi signals to track where the customers are shopping in the store. This technology uses ID numbers for each customer and from this they can track where they are, how many customers are in the store, and what they are buying. However, they stopped using this technology due to customer complaints about privacy.

Fairson Department store uses this information for marketing. For example if they have a sale going on and they have marketed the sale well and customer traffic is up, that means the campaign has worked. This can help the company sell more over time.

Store Loyalty Cards

Some stores offer loyalty cards where they can track your buying and send you coupons based off what you have bought. For example you have bought a new vacuum cleaner, the store will ask you if you would like a store loyalty card to receive discounts. When you sign up, the store records what you have just bought and they will send you coupons for cleaning supplies the next week. This is used to get you to come back to the store. Some coupons are linked to your e-mail or smart phones so you can easily access the coupons.

Big Data

Big data is large amounts of data that is collected from posts in social media accounts, software that tracks browsing habits, your profile employment and family status information, your address, and the devices you use. Information mining companies use big data to find out more about you, your interests, buying habits, and life events.They sell customer information to retailers. For example, I just bought a new van and posted it on my Facebook account. Within a couple hours I had logged back on and there was an ad about a new Honda minivan for sale.

The only way to stop companies from tracking you is to stop shopping online and use cash only with no discount cards. Online, you can clear your cookies. This removes traces of what sites you have visited. Set your social media accounts to private and sign the opt out registry for your phone so tracking companies cannot track your phone. Also, do not use free public WiFi signals as they can see what you are looking up.


There are some major concerns from customers who feel like their privacy is being invaded. Americans feel they have no control over their information and how it is collected and used.Some say its creepy, while others think it’s fine. Many people think that for personal services, giveaways, or discounts are a fair trade for personal tracking data(

Stores feel that these practices are not an invasion of privacy. They say it is far less invasive than everyday surveillance, used by law enforcement. They also say they do not store information, as it is collected and then processed into data to be used. Joel Reideberg, a Professor of Technology at Princeton University, said that stores should be up front with customers and how they are collecting and using the info( He thinks customers will be upset.

I feel that it is an invasion of privacy if stores are using my Bluetooth or WiFi signal to get information from me. However I don’t have a problem with my computer being tracked and what I am searching. I think that is a smart strategy to get consumers to buy things they may need. I think it depends on where they are getting the information from. Researching this information makes me second guess how much of my info I want others to have access to.

Works Cited

6 Ways Retailers & Stores Track Your Spending Habits – How to Protect Your Personal Data. (2016). Retrieved from Moneycrashers:

How tracking customers in-store will soon be the norm. (2014, January 10). Retrieved from the gaurdian:

Rucke, K. (2013, December 17). Retailers Go High-Tech To Track Shoppers. Retrieved from

Sharing Data, but Not Happily. (2015, June 4). Retrieved from



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