Future Tech: The Sneaky Way Stores May Be Watching You

TECH

The Sneaky Way Stores May Be Watching You

It’s 5 pm, the kids are crying they’re hungry, your significant other is going to be home in an hour and you are rushing around the grocery store looking for something quick to pick up and make for dinner. You toss some spaghetti sauce in your buggy next to the parmesan cheese and garlic bread and rush towards the cash registers. Before you have gotten to the next aisle, your phone chirps. You look down and see a text that says “spaghetti noodles, aisle 4”. Are you relieved that the text just saved your dinner or slightly creeped out that the store knew that you are making spaghetti for dinner? This could possibly be the future of shopping.

Meijer's Using IPS (Indoor Positioning System)

Meijer’s Using IPS (Indoor Positioning System)

The Future Of Shopping

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Although it may seem as if the store is psychic, in truth it is reading your habits and what you have in your cart and coming up with a reasonable deduction of what else is needed and where it is located in the store. Many people use GPS to get around town, but recent advances in technology go one step further and get much more personal. Over the last few years, stores have begun to test the idea of using technology to make shopping easier on the shopper and more profitable for the store.

In the mall, large stores have monitors set up to see how many people enter the store and how many of them actually purchase an item. Companies already use wifi to read your phone and send you deals while you’re shopping if you are part of their loyalty program. Retailers are hoping that a brand new application named IPS will be able to find your location in the store, look around at your browsing history in your phone, your past trips to the store, how long you stay in each department, and makes suggestions.

Remember GPS? Meet IPS

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Being called the next big thing in shopping is the interesting technology of indoor positioning system, also called indoor tracking. IPS stands for indoor positioning system. This means that wireless machines track the signals that all smartphones emit. Smartphones are constantly transmitting information. IPS taps into those signals to track a person’s location and relay information back to store owners. IPS has been compared to cookies that are stored on a personal computer by websites. At the moment, IPS can’t predict what you are making for dinner or that you are probably out of toilet paper, but big businesses are hoping that someone will create a program that will make IPS do exactly that and soon.

Angry Consumers Fear Privacy Invasion

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A legitimate concern of IPS and the way retailers want to use it, is privacy invasion. The application will be reading what’s on your phone, tracking your movements, looking at what you look at, what you pick up to buy, how long you spend in the store and how often you return. Nordstrom’s did a small trial with a beginning program that merely tracked the length of time consumers shopped and the sections of the store they visited. Customers were alerted to the test by a sign in the store and many felt like being watched by a computer application was scary. After the phones of celebrities being hacked in England and personal information being leaked to the public, it is understandable that some people may not like the idea of a computer tracking their actions.

Shorter Shopping Time, Better Deals

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IPS could feasibly make your shopping experience better. Yes, the worry that information on your phone being stolen is legitimate, but there is also the benefit of being able to shop smarter. IPS could do many things for shoppers. Coupons could be more personalized based on prior shopping trips and by knowing what you typically shop for, suggestions for add on items could reduce trips back to the store for forgotten items.

The application could save money for consumers and by reducing trips to the store, the Earth could benefit as well. Less money would be spent on gas, better coupons could save more money for the consumer and more time could be spent with the family instead of running back out to the store.

In the end, this is all speculation. If IPS becomes a reality in stores, if it works the way stores are hoping and if shoppers decide that they want to shop at stores that have IPS then maybe, just maybe, your cell phone is going to help you plan dinner. The possibilities of this application are endless, if someone can get the technology to work the way businesses want. The future is full of cool ideas, fun technology and amazing discoveries.

About The Author
Arcadia Lynn
I am a student of the world. I enjoy cooking, learning about new things, tinkering with technology and am an avid reader. Sometimes I endeavor to teach myself how to knit, but it's not going too well.