Brick-and-mortar stores have long wanted to track consumers the way online merchants do and are starting to figure out how. They’re using security cameras to monitor shopping behavior and tracking mobile phones to divine which stores people visit.
The technologies mean retailers from discount chain Family Dollar Stores Inc. (FDO) to luxury pen-maker Montblanc can make changes on the fly -- such as deploying more salespeople in a given department and moving high-margin merchandise to parts of the store where shoppers are more likely to see it.
“It’s really a game-changing experience, and this is only the beginning,” said Rodrigo Fajardo, a Montblanc brand manager, who says a six-month-old tracking system prompted him to move best-selling items to another part of his Miami store, boosting sales 20 percent. “Before we were just working based on know-how and intuition. This is designing a retail business based on real statistics...”