Today, everything I need to know is available on my smartphone enabling me to make purchasing decisions on the fly. Smart retailers are taking advantage of data transmitted from my smart phone while in their establishment, enabling them to gain insight into how clients move through their store, where they are spending their time and what they are purchasing.
The article “New App Can Help Turn 'Showroomers' Into Paying Customers” in Entrepreneur magazine discusses how an application called Swarm mobile, that connects to a customers mobile device, (if they agree), through Wi-Fi. Applications like Swarm connect and tracks a clients movement through the store, along with their web use enabling the retailer to see what sites they're visiting for price comparisons. This information can be used to send offers after careful analysis of the data gathered.
Another opinion about Wi-Fi tracking applications is highlighted in the Forbes article by Peter Cohan “How Nordstrom Uses WiFi To Spy On Shoppers” Cohan contends that retailers are spying on their customers through Wi-Fi and their smartphones, with many clients apparently feeling quite uncomfortable with a "big brother" application following them. A similar opinion is shared by The New York Times article “Attention, Shoppers: Store Is Tracking Your Cell” and an article in Taking Action “Stores track customers by WiFi on smartphones“.
Today a few people feel that this is intervention in their privacy and a few people feel that if at the end of the day if they are getting better offers it does not matter.
IBM Systems and Technology Group