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Google Analytics For Real Life: Tracking Retail Customers Through Smartphones

A new technology debuting at New York's National Retail Federation expo lets retailers track in-store customer activity through their smartphones' MAC addresses.

A new product released at this year's National Retail Federation expo in New York lets retailers track in-store customer activity through their smartphones. Security firm Fortinet's new network security appliances are designed for use in retail locations; the products also integrate shopper analytics from provider Euclid. Euclid Analytics' new Euclid Zero product captures shoppers' MAC addresses (which are unique identifiers every device on a network has) as they walk into the store, and uses this information to track store traffic, customer loyalty, and customer activity inside the store. The process is entirely passive on a customer's part; Fortinet and Euclid's product pings consumer smartphones even if they don't log into a store's Wi-Fi or make a phone call.

Euclid has also signed licensing agreements with other retail hardware providers including Aerohive, Aruba, and Xirrus. The company's dashboard provides Google Analytics-like aggregate data on shopper activity based entirely on mobile phone tracking. The growing ubiquity of smartphones, combined with the ease of phone tracking for both public and private parties, has meant an information-mining bonanza for marketers. In recent months, services data-mining customer's in-store price comparison shopping have popped up alongside smartphone ads targeting users by neighborhood.

[Image: Flickr user Roberto Verzo]