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Stores use new technology to track shoppers - KOAM TV 7

Stores use new technology to track shoppers

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Time is ticking for shoppers to buy gifts for Christmas.  

You're deciding what to buy.  Store owners are making decisions of their own, based on a new type of technology that gathers information about you and your shopping habits.

Businesses want to pinpoint what you want.  Some shoppers say don't worry about it, if it involves "personal" information.

The cost of buying almost anything is being debated, and we're not talking about money.

"I feel like it is an invasion of privacy," says shopper Karen Boatright.

Modern day technology.

"Some people might view that as intrusive," says Dr. John Groesbeck, Dean of Missouri Southern's School of Business.

The reason for this view, some marketing professors say, is the definition of privacy has remained relatively unchanged for many people during many generations.

Technology, on the other hand, seems to change almost every day.

Stores like Macy's and Wal-Mart are now using software that's connected to unnoticeable cameras near products that businesses want analyzed, like sunglasses, hats, maybe even the newest flavor of Kool-Aid.

"That will sense when you pick it up, when you look at it, it will identify how long you've held it, turned it," says Groesbeck.

The developer of this software says it's all computerized and anonymous.  But marketing professors say don't be surprised if when you check out, the computerized register prints out a coupon for the product you just looked at but didn't buy.  The stores' facial recognition software can track you.

"Sending me a coupon doesn't bother me," says shopper Danica Harris.  "But I don't want to be feeling like I can't be touching anything in the store because they're going to know and they're going to be harassing me about it."

Other technology available to stores, and being used by stores, may surprise you.  For example, your cell phone.

"Your cell phone is always eradiating information as it's seeking out cell phone towers," says Groesbeck.

Sensors at some stores' entrance could pick up your cell phone's phone number.

"Right now, it appears to be legal.  I'm sure the FCC has been getting some complaints," says Groesbeck.

Some may view this new technology in stores as an easier way to score deals.  

But on the flip side, there's "that" question...

Boatright asks, "If they do that, then what's next?"

A representative with Wal-Mart did not want to talk about use of this technology.  

Professor Groesbeck says this new technology could also bring forth a type of electronic haggling.  Watch the associated video to learn more.

One company offering this new type of technology is Shopperception.

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