Retailers ‘capable of tracking shoppers through smartphones’

More and more retailers are investing in technology that allows them to track the movements of shoppers through their smartphone, an expert has revealed.

Simon Rice, group manager for technology at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK, explained that this technology helps retailers “use the customer journey to build up a picture as to how people typically use the store”.

It can lead to interesting and new targeting methods for attracting shoppers to particular products, he outlined on the ICO’s blog.

For example, an advert for shaving products can appear in front of an individual because the system recognizes that this particular customer has previously spent time in front of a similar advert.

It does, however, raise concerns with regards to the use of personal data, especially seeing as the technology is being used across airports, railway stations and citywide Wi-Fi networks.

Mr. Rice stated: “When this type of technology is used to generate aggregate statistics about daily visitor numbers or to generate an alert if an area is overcrowded, it can be done in a privacy-friendly manner.”

Wi-Fi location tracking was one of the key topics of conversation discussed at a meeting held by the international working group on data protection in telecommunications, which Mr. Rice attended.

The group has produced a list of recommendations to help tackle any problems that the use of this technology may pose; including digital signs that inform users that location tracking is active.

The ICO also revealed that through using facial recognition, smart CCTV systems may now offer new mechanics for audience measurement, which can help address issues including overcrowding.

Although this system provides plenty of benefits, there are problem areas, especially when it comes to privacy and data protection.

Mr. Rice points out that in order to address these potential risks, it’s imperative that individuals know who is collecting the data and exactly what for.

Author , We Live Security

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