Retailers Are Turning To Spy Tech To Boost Sales

Retailers in Europe and the U.K. are reportedly using spy technology in an effort to boost sales and customer service. The technology is being used to read customers’ facial expressions, heart rate and pupil dilation while they browse the aisles of physical stores.

According to a Telegraph report, the technology being installed across the U.S., Europe and the U.K. can tell if a customer is having trouble finding an item, read their reactions to particular products and identify and prevent the actions of shoplifters. The moves are aimed at improving customer experience and keeping up with eCommerce, which is greatly hurting the sales of many traditional retailers.

One bookseller in France, which was unnamed in the report, used the spy technology to follow customers’ movements and facial expressions to alert staff if it determined they may need assistance. From August 2016 to April 2017, the bookseller used the software to analyze shoppers movements and read emotions of surprise, dissatisfaction, confusion and hesitation, noted the report. The bookseller claims the technology has resulted in a 10 percent lift in sales. 

Meanwhile, a Mothercare shop in Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, employed emotion technology software from video applications development company Realeyes. Staff found shoppers who entered the store smiling spent 33 percent more money than those who weren’t smiling. Stores in Italy, according to the report, are running a trial with mannequins that have cameras embedded in them. The mannequins can detect customers’ facial reactions to their outfits.

“These systems are designed to be completely invisible so shoppers do not know they are there,” said Mark Thompson, director of retail and hospitality at Zebra Technologies, in the report. “They are mainly designed to improve people’s shopping experience, but now shops are discovering they can [also] use hi-tech systems to catch shoplifters and learn more about their customers.”