New Software Helps Retailers Track Customer Shopping Habits

Security Camera RentalsWhat store owner wouldn’t want to know the shopping habits and trends of his customers?  Well, Prism Skylabs has developed new sophisticated technology that helps business owners get an idea of what’s hot and what’s not in their stores.

This new High-tech software captures video on security cameras to track customers’ movements and create “heatmaps.”    The images are not specific faces but rather an aggregate of all the shoppers’ locations in the store and what items they have touched.  It also provides timelines which show activity levels and path maps that show how customers move through the store.  For retailers, this is valuable information to help make decisions about product placement and floor layout.

Now, if you’re like me, the thought of being “stalked” through a store is a little unsettling.  But rest at ease, all of the images and summarized data are completely anonymous.  Yes, it uses security camera footage, but it basically erases people from the video.  This is accomplished with advanced technology that is essentially computation photography.

The San Francisco-based company officially launched last November and isn’t letting the cat out of the bag about how many customers have signed up for this software, but it says there are dozens.

Clothing designer Sunhee Moon has been using Prism Skylabs in her two San Francisco shops for a few months and says it is absolutely worth the $50 monthly fee.  She can access the software in New York, Milan and on her cell phone.  “It gives me peace of mind.  It’s like me being there, without me being there.”  (Source CNET News)

Prism Skylabs is easy to install and easy to use but not without competition.  RetailNext started a program in 2009 that offers heatmapping plus other data like number of visitors per day and top dollar amounts spent per customer.   RetailNext also uses security video camera footage, but it also uses sensors on shelves, point-of-sale information from the cash registers and RFID tags on items.  But that extra data is going to cost you extra dollars.  RetailNext entails much more installation work than Prism Skylabs.  Security cameras and software installed on a computer system the cameras are attached to is about all it takes to get Prism Skylabs up and running.

Keeping brick-and-mortar stores alive can be a challenge today, so retailers may welcome all the high-tech help they can get.

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