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Tracking Customers for Profit

For the past two decades, the digital revolution has been impacting our daily life. Whether you perceive technology advances as a benefit or a drawback, one thing is for certain. There is no stopping the trend. 3.8 Billion smartphones in the world mean that a growing number of users are enjoying the benefits and less likely to be worried by privacy issues. The fact is corporations continue to discover the benefits of tracking customers habits online and offline. They will continue to leverage that information in an attempt to dominate their market. We think shopper tracking is a competitive trend which can be leveraged for any organization looking to advance their brand. In this post, we provide 3 ideas about tracking customers for profit.

Small businesses make up the majority of the business space in the United States. Every one of them is looking at how to leverage the digital tools being marketed to them constantly to achieve that. In this article, we focus on a growing digital niche. This is the trend for combining online and offline people tracking, and we relate that in terms of business benefits. Let’s get started.


Consumers are now used to the intrusive practices commonly used by companies looking to convert more sales by monitoring online visitor activity. Even established brick and mortar retailers recognized the benefit of having an eCommerce site to expand profits. Digital tracking tools and predictive behavior by consumer internet browsing habits has become standard for digital advertising strategies.

Despite the fact that online retail continues to grow year over year, the concern that physical stores would all die out has been refuted. Consumers have proven that they still love to visit their favorite store locations. So for the brick and mortar companies, the question continues regarding how to bridge online customer data to offline shopping habits. There is a race to optimize that shopping experience to keep buyers happy.


Optimizing sales and profits means having a lot of data at your disposal. The majority of inherently crucial data is about location metrics. How are these systems, and what do they achieve?

There is a vast number of configurations for collecting data, but let’s look at a popular one. A successful configuration contains: Smartphone – Mobile App – Location Beacons

This arrangement works so well for so many retail organizations why?

  • Nearly every customer has a smartphone now
  • Consumers are savvy and know retailers offer brand loyalty programs
  • Beacons are cheaper and smarter than ever

A retail organization builds and promotes a mobile application. This application has a natural appeal because it delivers cost savings to customers. The more they spend, the additional opportunity to save. This model works, and every retailer needs to get on board with that simple concept. The next step is to build in a sensor receiver component, which the customers will gladly accept because it also means additional savings and convenience for them.

The customers come into the store with their shopping app running in the background of their smart device, and now the system can really go to work. It starts by analyzing purchasing history and preferences. The beacons are broadcasting to the shoppers’ device, and just as they pass by a promotional display, to their delight, a message on their cell notifies them that they are eligible for today’s special deal. The system knows what you want. Predicting shopper behavior is the point.


When the system data is aggregated, it offers the system administrators a wealth of information. This includes the following:

  • How the shoppers arrive at your store
  • How far are they willing to drive to get to your location
  • Where you ought to direct marketing efforts
  • Quickly discovering hot items in the store and are if they located in the best space
  • For big box stores, managers get an employee version to see employee movement measured against sales for productivity insights
    Proximity traffic capture rates

This Geo-Location analytics is the tracking solution needed to stay competitive in the modern information age.


Not every system needs to be active. Active means, you get buy-in from the customer, and they need to take action for your analytics to be generated. A passive system may not give as deep insight, but they generally offer a broader and more comprehensive data set.

How might a facial scanning system work that is passive? What type of data does it give you and how does it help?
A sensor at the entrance and exists offer a relevant field of view. These sensors will track how many visitors you have. You store the information, and you soon begin to get trend data.
Facial recognition cameras are placed in at customer service desks and point of sale locations.

  • Get the customer headcount
  • Real-time traffic, daily, weekly, season trends become predictive
  • Discover gender statistics
  • Segment by age

The benefits are many, even with a passive system. Studying your data can tell you what demographic is converting better. This lets you spend advertising dollars more wisely. Staffing requirements become more accurate and meaningful. Pro-tip is to upgrade the facial capture software and learn how your store layout and inside marketing campaigns impacts shoppers emotions. Are you really delighting shoppers or annoying them?


This last technology recommendation is much newer and more challenging than the others. To back up a little, Augmented Reality (AR) is not totally new. Remember the Pokemon game and how it went viral? That was an example of augmented reality in the form of a game that took off like wildfire.

Because it is less mature, there are less obvious vendors and platforms to work with. It will take the highest level of commitment from management to make such a program work. The company can decide to get ahead of this retail innovation trend or play catch up later. The data already shows that consumers like to be entertained as part of their shopping experience. This is why shoppers will always select stores with AR.

This is not something that is just floating out there someplace on a cloud. Google has invested 1.4 billion in Magic Leap. Apple and Microsoft have their own platform they are developing on. The point is, there are significant investments being made in this space.


While this technology will have many challenges for smaller brick and mortar retailers, it also offers new opportunities to those that embrace it. If you begin to learn now, you can more easily combine AR into your marketing channels. The sooner, the better to improve yours. Benefits of embracing AR in retail include:

  1. Increased store traffic
  2. Better customer engagement
  3. Reduction in product returns
  4. Upgraded customer experience
  5. Increased brand loyalty
  6. A broader spectrum of potential customers
  7. Free publicity via social media commenting

AR retail tech is becoming cheaper. Prices will continue to come down. However, don’t wait too long before you start to invest and intermingle this as part of your overall marketing strategy. If AR is anything like many other technology systems that consumers have adopted during the last 20 years, when it hits, it will hit fast.


Successful brands will be the ones that are inventing new kinds of shopping experiences integrating stores as part of the customer journey. The modern retailers will also be investing in tracking customers with technology. On this note, capturing the right data to make customer’s preference available to store associates who can then provide personalized service is a way to level up your service. Moreover, interactive AR technologies will be key for attracting the typical online shopper into stores. Physical stores should be complementary to the online experience to create personalized customer interactions and offer something unique to enhance what the customer can already do online.

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Robert Cushman
Robert Cushman

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