Shoppers and Numbers - Are You Being Tracked
We all have shopping habits, buying certain items in certain stores, checking others for sales and so on, but did you know the stores have turned it into a business? Predictive Analytics lets stores keep tabs on you and what you buy thereby predicting what you will buy and need. Have you heard of a customer tracking system? Additionally stores use customer order tracking systems so they can track the items you order through the store or online. Stores are using them to track your buying habits and length of time in the store. They also use (not all stores yet) customer IDs to track your purchases and let them keep an eye on your buying habits. According to Wikipedia;
Predictive analytics is an area of statistical analysis that deals with extracting information from data and using it to predict future trends and behavior patterns.
Stores and manufacturers use this information to track your behavior and influence your future trends. They track when you are going through major life events. For example, if you buy pre-natal vitamins they put you down as pregnant and start sending you advertisements and/or coupons relating to baby products to get you into their store before you start shopping for baby products somewhere else.
We don't notice, but the stores and their analysts do, that as we go through major life changes our shopping habits most likely shift and we are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers.” Of course online shopping has its own tracking capabilities and systems.
These marketers have found that the right advertisement or the right literature sent at the right time can change a person's shopping habits for years to come. They are looking for the smart shopper, the one who will come back and look for the deals. You are not just a shopper you are their bread and butter and they need to track you and how you shop to influence their success not only in marketing but in sales.
In researching this article I think the scariest thing I came across was Malls tracking you through your cell phone. Right now the information is anonymous but it can track your cell phone from store to store. Smart phones anyone?
Back to regular 'predictive analytics'. In this economy it is important for stores to be able to predict what buyers will be buying and/or tailor their merchandise to those needs. Many stores can now gather the information they have on customer habits and look into new products they think customers will buy. Rather than putting those products immediately in every store, they can run a pilot and put them in a few stores to see if their figures are right. If the sales are a success they can then roll them out into other stores.
Stores can further tailor products by knowing what customers are looking for. If stores can gather customer profiles including age, gender and sex, and follow what they are buying stores can then cater more to those buying habits. Why stock hats for 10 year old boys when your average shopper is a 63 year old woman? Of course if she's a grandma that could change the whole ballgame. By stores keeping track of what that 63 year old woman is buying they can tell whether she's a grandmother or not.
Are you getting the drift here? Seems Big Brother is watching us. It may not be 1984 anymore but all our moves are being tracked one way or another. You know your Internet moves are tracked, now your cell phones, and your shopping habits. There are customer relationship management companies used to track and gather data about your experience with a particular store and/or salesperson. It is important to companies and stores to track your interaction with them. Building and keeping a strong relationship with customers is very important for brick and mortar stores particularly with the challenges the Internet has presented them with. A happy customer means good business. The best way to keep a happy customer is to know they are satisfied with the store and staff and to know what they are doing when they are in the store.
What about security cameras? They may not just be for security anymore. There is a new software that mines data and then will analyze customer density, where shoppers deviate most to when they are present in the store, and track browsing habits. (http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/security-cameras-track-shopper-preferences/22283)
Believe it or not Facial Recognition Software is currently being studied in the marketing arena. It is used to identify a shoppers gender and approximate age. It doesn't identify the person but gives the store/retailer a better idea of what customers are looking at and buying. As a matter of fact it is being tried in twenty Family Dollar Stores.
It's all about marketing to a target audience and you can't do that if you don't know your audience. Shoppers are the stores audience. Of course most stores realize the most important shopper is the one who is ready to buy. Stores have found over the years that shoppers are annoyed when they receive advertisements that do not apply to them or they are not interested in. So studying buying habits and groups of buyers helps stores reach their audience.
So back to the beginning of this hub, many businesses are assigning their customers Customer ID numbers. Every transaction you complete using your credit card or store discount card is tracked to your Customer ID Number. This way stores know what you are buying and what your interests are. Over time they have a pretty good profile of the kind of shopper you are and can tailor their merchandise to what you are buying.
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