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Web retailers have plenty of data on their customers. Some of these online technologies can even track shoppers from site to site to lure them back with what's known as retargeting ads — promos targeted to what that shopper has looked at before, but didn't actually buy. Smart shelves with sensors promise the same kind of in-depth consumer behavior analytics at retail stores.
At a Kroger store in Cold Spring, Ohio, shelves currently show digitized price tags and information about the products. The next step is to tie that to individual shoppers. For example, for a shopper who prefers gluten-free products, the price tags could light up in the aisle where all the gluten-free options are. The company says this will all be done with the customer's permission.
Perch Interactive, a startup that is working with chains like Sunglass Hut and fragrance maker Jo Malone, uses laser and motion sensors to detect when a product is picked up. Perch monitors the interactions and lets retailers know what people pick up but don't buy. It also offers recommendations: When a shopper picks up a Jo Malone product, an interactive display pops up to show a complementary fragrance.