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Brick And Mortar Cozies Up To Big Data

Chicago Retail

E-commerce no longer has a monopoly on creepy, pre-point-of-sale tracking. Companies like Prism Skylabs are selling brick-and-mortar stores on location analytics, and retailers are hungry for these exacting assessments of customer behavior, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article. The technology employs a store’s security cameras to spot shopping patterns, presenting results in handy formats like store heat maps and bar graphs of busiest days and times. One happy user, jeweler Alex and Ani, was interested to learn where shoppers congregated most (the spot to add staff and display flagging items), and that most turned right upon entering the store. (Admit it, now that you think about it, you do that all the time.)


Prism’s data is anonymous, but location-based marketing raises privacy questions at its core, sending you a coupon for toilet paper the day before you run out. (Our overly invasive example for emphasis.) In-store tracking seems more inappropriate than an online cookie today, but well-planned disclosure and presentation to customers could result in a completely personalized shopping experience before long. For retail real estate, it could be the key to unlocking complete space efficiency. We wonder, can you quantify revenue on each specific square foot, or is there still some kind of secret sauce a site needs to succeed? Send your thoughts!