Quoted: on tracking shoppers via their smartphones

“It would probably be better not to use this tracking system at all if we had to let people know about it. It’s not invasive. It might raise alarms for no reason.”

Glenna Weddle, owner of Rac Boutique, a women’s clothing store that is a Turnstyle client. Turnstyle has sensors — which detect WiFi signals on people’s mobile phones — at about 200 businesses within a 0.7 mile radius that track shoppers (without their knowledge) as they move about Toronto, according to the Wall Street Journal. Turnstyle also offers free WiFi at local restaurants and coffee shops there, and it uses the information from Facebook logins (including names) and combines them with the aggregated data (without names) collected by its sensors. It then builds profiles of consumer lifestyles and passes that information along to its clients. It’s just another tracking tool for retailers; other tools include apps such as Shopkick, and Apple’s iBeacon, which is being used to track customers’ locations inside Apple stores, grocers and other retailers. Other technology in the works includes tiny cameras hidden in signs, as Heather Somerville has reported.

 

Photo of iPhone from Associated Press archives

Levi Sumagaysay Levi Sumagaysay (4045 Posts)

Levi Sumagaysay is editor of the combined SiliconBeat and Good Morning Silicon Valley. She also helps take care of SiliconValley.com, the Mercury News tech website. Email: lsumagaysay (at) bayareanewsgroup (dot-com).