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    What Innovative Retail Technology is “Spying” on in Stores

    What Innovative Retail Technology is “Spying” on in Stores

    Tracy Watson


    9 min read

    retail trends

    In today’s world of data breaches and privacy concerns, we always have this feeling that we are being watched. While some might brush this off as mere speculation, there is some truth to this claim, at least in regards to shopping. As we will see later on, stores are starting to leverage technology, and all of the data they have about you to send you personalized offers and adjust the layout of the merchandise to entice you to make a purchase. 

    Brick and mortar stores are constantly grappling with online retailers for the same clientele, and they are going to great length to win supremacy. To get customers coming back through the door, physical stores started to rely on some innovative retail technology to think outside the box and rethink the way they provide convenience and tailored experience to each customer. Let’s take a look at some exciting innovations physical stores are using to win over shoppers. 

    Customer Loyalty Apps and Programs 

    Most retail brands offer some loyalty programs and use the data collected to build a closer relationship with each customer. For example, they will notice that you frequently purchase a specific item and will send you specialized offers to entice you to come back. Loyalty apps are also a good way to notify your customers about particular promotions that are going on, which is something that Auchan is doing and send personalized notifications straight to their phones. Loyalty program solutions may be used to “spy” on your shopping habits. Still, ultimately they are used by companies to improve their service offering and provide you with a better in-store experience. 


    Another interesting use of the loyalty app is to notify the customers that there is a store close to their location. A lot of times, customers are unaware that there’s a store nearby and decide to go someplace else. This is something that Auchan is also doing with their mobile app, and they were able to increase revenue as a result. 

    Interactive Displays 

    The days of a mannequin in a display window are becoming obsolete, and the new interactive displays are coming to replace them. One of the most popular solutions uses virtual reality to show everyone walking by what they would look like in the close that is on display. Innovations in retailing allow brands to turn entire store walls into information hubs where the customer can receive any information about a particular item. Also, Macy’s has come out with some interesting retail innovations cosmetics kiosks called Beauty Spot, where shoppers can receive personalized recommendations based on their skin tones. These are all very effective methods for interacting with customers to find out their preferences and provide them with greater value. 

    AR for Retail

    RFID Tags 

    While you are walking around the store with items in your shopping cart, you are not even suspecting that they contain RFID tags that are used to transmit messages to video monitors located in your immediate surroundings to run targeted advertisements. Such innovative retailing methods were first adopted by Walmart back in 2004 and is now being used by many retail stores around the world. 

    Cameras in Mannequins 

    If you thought that stores were using cameras to stop would-be shoplifters, then you may be surprised to find out that they are also being used to capture customer data. In fact, the cameras are located somewhere you may not even suspect: inside mannequins. The cameras are powered by facial recognition technology and can capture information such as your age, race, and gender. There are some interesting practical applications of this innovative retail concept. For example, thanks to this technology, one store found out that almost half of their afternoon customers were children. They used this information to adjust their merchandise, thus boosting sales accordingly. So the next you feel like a mannequin is watching you, this may very well be the case. 

    facial recognition security

    Beacon Technology 

    Whenever you search for something on Google or visit a particular website, you later receive targeted advertisements containing the exact item(s) you searched for. The same concept applies to brick and mortar stores, thanks to beacon technology. For example, let’s say that you walk into a store and try on a pair of shoes. Later on, as you are walking around the store, you receive a notification on your phone that you received a personalized discount on that very same pair of shoes. Such technology is already being used by some of the leading retailers in the world, such as Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Timberland, and many others. 

    Beacons can also be a useful tool if you have both a physical store and online one as well since you can track your customers’ in-store movements and then send them targeted advertisements when they visit your website. Such retail marketing services are very effective in customizing the user experience and boosting revenue at the same time. 

    Using the POS to Collect Data

    Pretty much everything inside the store is designed to collect information about you, including the POS system itself. Some offer passive data collection, meaning there is no action required on your part. This can be something like a mobile POS or purchases made by scanning a QR code. Retailers will use this information to learn more about your habits and preferences to send you personalized offers in hopes of tempting you to come back. 

    how pos system works

    Start Utilizing Such Technologies in Your Store(s)

    Without the latest technology, it will be difficult for you to keep track of user preferences and adjust your service offering accordingly. The reason this is so important is that customers are demanding retailers to provide them with personalized experiences, both online and in-store. Without these technologies, you will have difficulties winning over your customers. In today’s retail landscape, customers have a wide variety of stores to choose from, and they are most likely to pick the store that offers them the best experience. 

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