Nordstrom Monitors Customers Cell Phones to See Their In-Store Shopping Behavior

Technology is taking a larger role in shopping as last fall giant retailer Nordstrom admitted to installing a new technology in stores to monitor customers cell phones to see their in-store shopping behavior.

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Ironically, this trend was shown in a more open way in which Kate Spade recently launched a Virtual Store in New York City that was widely popular and required shoppers to use their cell phones to make purchases; while other retailers like Family Dollar, and specialty stores like Benetton and Warby Parker use tracking technology inside the stores.

Motivated to find similar information the online giant Amazon obtains when a customer browses through the site; Nordstrom installed a system in stores that followed Wi-Fi signals from customers own Smartphones. The idea of the program was to measure consumer sentiment by tracking the movements of each customer and determine what departments they were visiting and for how long they looked at an item. Video surveillance also provided additional information to track the ratio of male and female shoppers.

Nordstrom did post a sign telling customers about the surveillance.  Despite consumer acceptance of online tracking tools such as cookies, and the popularity of sharing Social Media sharing sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Flickr; customers responded with numerous complaints forcing the company to end the test in May of 2013. As the online debate on privacy continues in the news, Pinterest  responded to user requests for privacy by giving users an option to avoid being tracked online.

Personally, I find it very positive to see companies responding to customer requests for privacy, and I encourage everyone to be vocal on your feelings regarding invasion of privacy if it is online or in a store.

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