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South African shops may soon start ‘tracking’ you in-store – here’s how it works

| Innovation and technology

Retail in South Africa is expected to undergo a massive boom in digital and mobile technology within in the next two years, which will reshape customer behaviour and their relationships with brands.

This is according to a January report released by software company Oracle, which surveyed a total of 800 CMOs, CSOs, senior marketers and senior sales executives across France, the Netherlands, South Africa and the UK.

Speaking to BusinessTech, Chantel Troskie, customer experience senior sales manager at Oracle, said that local retailers currently offer an impersonal self-service experience to their customers.

“Shoppers walk into the store, they browse and they stand in a queue to pay – they do not have a personalised shopping experience,” she said.

“What retailers are aiming for is to offer a more personalised shopping experience by fitting bluetooth beacons in-store that will pick-up the shopper’s cellphone, which allows them to identify and communicate with the shopper.”

“Retailers are also looking to employ facial recognition cameras so that if a customer is returning to the store, they know who the customer is, their behaviour and preferences,” she said.

According to Troskie these cameras can also pick up the mood of customers – whether they’re happy or in a bad mood or perhaps in a hurry or relaxed – so that they can engage with the customer according to the information shared by facial recognition.

“Once customers enter the store and are identified, retailers will be able to send them advertising or promotions regarding a particular brand or product. In-store beacons will guide customers to the item that is on promotion,” she said.

When?

While the report looked at the effects of new technology before the end of 2020, Troskie highlighted that some shopping centres already make use of bluetooth devices to communicate with customers – for example, Atterbury Value Mart.

However other technologies will likely see a roll-out first, she said.

“I believe facial recognition is the technology retailers will deploy first as it provides rich information on customers,” she said.

“Getting rid of queues will most likely follow next – sales assistants will service customers with tablets linked to a POS system, which means transactions can take place on the floor and shoppers can avoid standing in queues.”

Troskie also confirmed that Oracle was already assisting a major clothing retailer in undergoing a major technological revamp, but was not able to provide further details as they were still under an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).

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