Shops to follow people around stores by tracking their mobiles

Author

Dan Hyde Consumer Affairs Editor

June 15, 2015

People who agree will be sent deals and adverts as they walk along high streets or through shopping centres

Shops are sending discount coupons and adverts to the mobile phones of passers by – and will soon use new technology to track customers through their stores.

Tesco monitored people who walked past its Villiers Street store in central London stores for two weeks and then sent them voucher codes. It said the customers had given their mobile phone company consent to be sent advertising and that a “number of other companies have done similar things”.

Experts said large high street chains were also considering using mobile phone tracking and messaging to encourage customers to spend more money.

They said department stores would soon send alerts to customers with offers depending on where they were in the shop – for example, advertising a new collection of designer bags to people in the womenswear section.

Supermarkets are understood to be considering turning their loyalty cards into smartphone applications. Regular shoppers will be recognised when they enter the store and sent personalised offers with directions to the product. For example, someone might be sent an offer for a laundry detergent they always buy as they walk past the aisle.

Clothes shops are also in talks to use similar technology, The Telegraph understands. Customers will be able to press a button to call over an assistant, who will see their exact location.

In most cases, people will need to have downloaded an app to their phones and elect to receive data messages and share their location.

Tesco identified 40,000 shoppers who walked past its Villiers Street store, near the busy Embankment tube station, more than six times in a fortnight and offered them £1 off if they spent £3 on shopping. A spokesman said: “We’re always looking for ways to make it easier and simpler for our customers to shop with us. That’s why we trialled texting local customers with some money off coupons to introduce them to our new food to go store on Villiers Street in London. We’re looking forward to hearing their feedback.”

Graham Long, of Samsung, which is supplying some of the new technology to shops, said large high-street chains were turning their stores into “theatres”, where the experience was more akin to visiting a science museum exhibition.

In one piece of technology Samsung is developing, shops could use giant television screens to ascertain whether a customer was male or female – and their approximate age – and tailor digital adverts to passers-by.

Shop assistants will wear smart watches that allow stock levels to be checked instantly and car showrooms and travel agents would soon offer virtual reality glasses, Mr Long said

Responding to questions on privacy, he said: “This is about using smart technology to make life more efficient and productive.

“For example, if I can walk into a coffee shop and press a button on my smartphone so I don’t have to queue to order my regular drink, that would make my life better and save time.

“Shoppers will be happy as long as retailers don’t abuse their positions.”

dan.hyde@telegraph.co.uk

This article was written by Dan Hyde Consumer Affairs Editor from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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