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Nordstrom Using Smart Phones To Track Customers Movements

(credit: CBS 11 News)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Nordstrom says it wants to serve you better, so it's tracking your movements through their stores. The CBS 11 I-Team has learned the retailer is using software to track how much time you spend in specific departments within the store. The technology is being used in 17 Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores nationwide, including the NorthPark store in Dallas.

A company spokesperson says sensors within the store collect information from customer smart phones as they attempt to connect to Wi-Fi service. The sensors can monitor which departments you visit and how much time you spend there.  However, the sensors do not follow your phone from department to department, nor can they identify any personal information tied to the phone's owner, says spokesperson Tara Darrow.

"This is literally measuring a signal. You are not connected to the signal," says Darrow.

The store calls the information "anonymous aggregate reports that give us a better sense of customer foot traffic" and will ultimately be used to increase the shopping experience for Nordstrom customers. Darrow says the company could use the information to increase staffing during certain high-traffic times or change the layout of a department.

While Nordstrom has been collecting the information since October, the company has not implemented any changes based on the information it has collected. The store has posted a sign at its NorthPark entrance to alert customers and advise them they can opt out by turning off their phones.

nordstrom warning
(credit: CBS 11 News)

But Nordstorm is not the only North Texas store using this technology. Euclid, the company that provides the service, works with several other stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Yet, while they collect information about you, they are not as willing to reveal their client list, citing privacy concerns. Euclid's Director of Marketing John Fu would only say it serves a "variety of different kinds of retail stores, ranging from mom & pop stores and coffee shops to large department stores."

The information Euclid collects is anonymous, according to Fu. No names, addresses, phone numbers or email are reported. However, the information that is collected, Fu says, can help brick and mortar stores better understand their customers shopping preferences and help personalize their shopping experiences.

"For example, if many customers are entering and leaving a store within 5 minutes, that might indicate that there is not enough staff on the floor or that lines at the register are too long. A retailer can use this insight to adjust staffing levels or keep more registers open," says Fu.

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