Retailers look at customers for ideas

Security camera network

I recently read an article in the New York Times (click here to read it) about retailers watching customers shop via video cameras set up in their stores. We all thought those cameras that are watching our every move have only one purpose- theft prevention. However, retailers are beginning to use this technology to understand how their customers shop. The article references parents struggling to reach items due to their children misbehaving or poorly placed store shelves. Much of the article discusses how this is a potential invasion of privacy. Perhaps it is, but I really don’t care about that right now. Instead, I’m seeing a new way to find business opportunities.

These retailers are studying the film more as a way to understand how they can improve their store, like having a place to put their child while they shop or making product easier to reach. However, other businesses can look at the film more specifically and gain information about what attracts customers’ attention, what walking paths they are likely to take in the store and how they carry certain items, among many other details. This information can help generate new business ideas like shopping services or products designed to make the shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.

It may even provide ideas on how to better package or market existing products that are in those stores. For instance, maybe the product was not packaged in a way that will attract attention enough or maybe it is not placed in a spot that will be traveled earlier on in the shopping route. Another idea can be to offer this service to product makers and retailers alike by gathering this information and selling it to these types of businesses. Perhaps there are already people that do this; I have never looked in to it myself.

I do know that if I had a product that sells at certain retail stores, I would pay someone for information on where is the best spot for my product to be in the store and how best I should package it from the perspective of seeing how customers actually react to certain types of packaging. It’s easy to see how this technology, if studied correctly can provide great information and help generate some really useful and potentially lucrative business ideas. In fact, I can’t believe that retailers haven’t thought of doing this from the moment they first installed those ‘security’ cameras.