Department store surveillance cameras are not just watching for thieves. Some are also tracking customer activity. Knowing the ebb and flow of the number of shoppers, the path they take through the store and the products they touch can provide valuable information for boosting sales. While customers may find this level of scrutiny creepy, retailers see it as survival in a low-margin, fiercely competitive business.
Customer Data For Marketing
Retailers and vendors say technology is not being used today to personally identify shoppers. Software companies such as Prism Skylabs and RetailNext blur faces or use heat maps in providing visualizations of customer goings-on. In 2010, The Global Association For Marketing At Retail warned marketers againstrecording or storing facial data without consent. "While technology imposes few restrictions on data collections in retail settings, marketers should safeguard consumer privacy," the group said in publishing a voluntary code of conduct for collecting in-store customer data.
The Federal Trade Commission has said it does not have a problem with gathering aggregate information on shoppers. "We would be very concerned about the use of cameras to identify previously anonymous people," Mark Eichorn of the FTC Division of Privacy and Identity Protection told Time magazine.
Not surprisingly, privacy advocates are taking a more hardline stance. For them, the use of cameras for anything but catching pilferers is wrong, because most people do not know they are being watched for reasons other than security. But do people really expect privacy when standing in an aisle and checking out a jacket? They certainly don't expect others to know who they are, but it's a reasonable assumption that others will see them handling the potential purchase.
Via Brian Yanish - MarketingHits.com