Close
 

The instore machine

  • In association with Intergen
  • September 30, 2015
  • Intergen
The instore machine

The machine knows a lot about me. It probably knows a lot about you. As Benjamin Wittes and Jodie Liu point out in their recent Brookings Institution Paper, The privacy paradox: The privacy benefits of privacy threats, we’ve not done a great job of recognizing the benefits of online tracking even though, in practical terms, we almost all enjoy those benefits daily. The machine knows a whole lot about me, but it never judges. We digirati are the first to jump up and down about the abstract privacy threats posed but there’d be few among us who’d still prefer to discover “books similar to 50 Shades of Gray” by way of “intellectual discussion” at our local coffee group rather than the non-judgemental “readers who enjoyed X also enjoyed Y” at Amazon.com.

Online, the machine knows when and how often you’ve visited, and where you’ve come from. It watches exactly where you go, what you’ve been looking at, and for how long. It knows what you added to your basket, and of those items, which ones you purchased and which were set aside. The machine is like an elephant, in this age of “Big Data”, it never forgets. Online we know that the machine can and probably will track us, and as Wittes and Liu point out, for all our protestations we actually rather like the benefits that it provides.

The privacy paradox is coming to the real world. Take a quick look around your desk. Empty your pockets. If you’re anything like us you’ll have a whole swag of radio transmitting devices with you. The machine that knows us online can now know us offline as well. We’re equipping retail stores with radio frequency tracking, with image and facial recognition systems, with 3D time of flight cameras watching your every bodily move; smiles, frowns, blinks, gait, gender, age. We’re correlating CRM, payments transactions, ecommerce and physical sensors together to get a better understanding of our customers both as identifiable individuals and as more abstract ‘visitors’.

Walk into an appropriately equipped location and the machine will be looking, listening, thinking, perceiving. But the machine doesn’t judge; to maintain the trust of our customers and the trust of society, the machine mustn’t judge.

Things that we take for granted online, say A/B testing a new homepage design, now map across into the real world. Try two aisle-end configurations across different stores; which one delivers better engagement, better sales? Can you ask these questions of your physical store? Would you like to?

  • How many visitors do we get? When? For how long?
  •  How frequently do they come back? To which stores? Who are they? In categorical terms and as individuals?
  •  What do they put into the shopping cart?... That they never actually buy? 
  • Do they browse or do they go straight to what they want?
  • What do they look at? For how long? Pick up? Put down? Like? Dislike?
  • Do they talk to a sales person? Does that improve close rate? Margin?
  • How do they respond to alternative or upsell/cross sell suggestions?
  • What has this particular customer bought from us in the past – whether in store or online?

We’re not looking to remove people from the instore experience, but for some scenarios, that’s just what our customers want. The machine at the self-checkout knows all about me, remembers all my visits and purchases past; yet it feels quite a bit more private if I’ve got a basket filled from the family planning aisle.

The new retail technology that we’re employing offers great potential to improve the productivity of instore staff. We can place a wealth of new information in their hands, in stores, in real-time. They can know every customer. But unlike the machine, we rely on them to exercise good judgement and so, more than anywhere else above, we should proceed with care. We’d love to talk more. About the technology that can make all this happen and about the good judgment to do it right.

Chris Auld is the chief technology officer at Intergen. He had the foresight to study technology and privacy law at the University of Otago but the good judgement to pursue a career in technology instead. You can reach him via the machine: Chris.auld@intergen.co.nz and http://twitter.com/cauld.

James Page is the general manager for dynamics solutions at Intergen. You can reach him at James.Page@intergen.co.nz.

To read more about Intergen's retail offering, click here.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Peek inside Freedom Furniture’s new Newmarket flagship

  • Design
  • December 14, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
Peek inside Freedom Furniture’s new Newmarket flagship

Freedom Furniture has finished a $1 million-plus renovation of its 23-year-old flagship in Newmarket. The refurbished store opened at the start of this month.

Read more
 
 

Data dump: The final fortnight of Christmas shopping

  • News
  • December 13, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
Data dump: The final fortnight of Christmas shopping

There’s a little under two weeks to go before presents are exchanged, and the reports are rolling in. Are Kiwis being generous Santas or following the Grinch’s example?

Read more
 
 
Sponsored Content

What are your staff worth?

Wages typically make up more than half of a retailer’s outgoings, so it pays to take a little care when you’re allocating them. NZ Retail ...

 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 
Sponsored content

How Rocket Kitchen created a retail destination out of a relocation

When baker and cake-delivery retailer Rocket Kitchen relocated from its long-term Ponsonby spot to Mt Eden, it engaged Spaceworks Design Group to make its new ...

 
 

An age of unsure: Managing brands in an uncertain world

  • Opinion
  • December 13, 2018
  • Ian Howard
An age of unsure: Managing brands in an uncertain world

What does a brand need to do to stay ahead in an age of such uncertainty? Little Giant managing director Ian Howard says they now have an unprecedented role to play in setting the ethical, moral and social bar for people.

Read more
 

British company may take over Trade Me

  • News
  • December 13, 2018
  • Radio New Zealand
British company may take over Trade Me

The directors of the online trading and advertising site Trade Me are favouring being taken over by a British investment firm.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}