By Martina Mercer | Yahoo Contributor Network –
As a freelancer for many eCommerce sites, the new customer face scanner OptimEyes screen, developed by Lord Sugar’s Amscreen and rolled out by Tesco hasn’t surprised me. The public’s reaction to it has.
I realise that it seems like an invasion of privacy and that it makes customers feel used as marketing tools – this I completely understand. What I don’t understand is that retailers and eTailers have been using technology like this for almost a decade and it seems this is the first the public have heard about it.
Take any luxury bricks and mortar High Street store or even your current supermarket. The majority have customer analysis applications in force that can:
Tell if you’re male or female
Those security cameras that are there to ensure you don’t make off with the latest Toshiba laptop? They put a pink or blue ring around your face. They can tell your gender by your body language. Big brother has been watching you for a while.
Again body language is the key – they don’t need to see your eyes.
Measure how long you ponder over a product
In many stores your speed is tracked as soon as you enter. You slow down and it registers. You speed up and the results are fed back.
See which products you put back on the shelf after reading the description
This information is fed back to the manufacturers to improve their packaging or copy or the marketers to improve the advertising.
Determine which areas of a store you gravitate to most
They record footfall by the second and know exactly where to place products, how to light them and how to make sure you’re enticed to buy simply by watching where you go when you shop.
Track your walking/browsing speed and produce analysis for retailers as a result
The faster you walk the less interested you are. If your pace slows just a little they know something has caught your interest – a quick zoom in and they know exactly what it is. An ingenious trick for duplicating the success of a particular end of aisle stand.
Along with this your favourite High Street store or supermarket knows your shopping habits and lifestyle almost better than you do.
For instance, you buy toilet roll one week but not the next. They notice a gap in the pattern, suddenly you receive a voucher giving you 10% off toiletries as they know you’ve been elsewhere to scoop up a bargain.
If you have children and buy clothes for 1-2 years but not for 2-3 years they know you’re finding better offers elsewhere, hey presto, an offer arrives giving you money off some great clothes for toddlers.
This is just a small part of how retailers collect information. If we move to online data the potential for gathering information about you is incredible without the face scanner.
This is how eTailers determine their remarketing or retargeting advertising.
The former directs ads at you depending on your browsing history. Have you abandoned any baskets recently? Have you browsed products but not completed checkout? What types of products were they? Family, lifestyle, gardening, DIY? Just by assessing your interest eTailers can determine your age bracket, location, hobbies, family situation and even your yearly income. This is how they bring you relevant ads when you’re on a completely irrelevant site.
The latter uses the information you’ve given when signing up for a newsletter or completing checkout. From the details you provide and your purchase history eTailers can develop powerful campaigns that you may find hard to resist.
Customer analysis is crucial in today’s world if a retailer is to survive, this is why companies such as IMRG and The Consumer Voice are in such high demand. Getting inside your mind is the best way to bring in revenue by delivering exactly what you want.
It may seem like an invasion of privacy, yet consider Amazon. Are you annoyed when your Kindle breaks and the 24 hour replacement opens the book you were reading at the exact same spot? It’s called convenience.
Do you become upset when a High Street store sends you an offer on a 3D TV that you’ve been pondering over for months?
Do you feel disgruntled when Freeview and satellite TV channels make suggestions of movies based on your preferences?
There are many benefits for the consumer too and most of us adore the more personalised marketing and increased convenience of shopping. Tesco is simply expanding to ensure they serve the customer well and of course reap the best reward for their investment in marketing.