WUFT News

New Technology Will Track Customer Shopping Experience

By on November 20th, 2013

Your grocery store shelf may be getting an intelligence boost.

Mondelez International, the company behind brands such as Oreo, Ritz and Wheat Thins, is partnering with Microsoft’s Kinect technology to bring Smart Shelf to consumers and shoppers.

Smart Shelf is being created to track what consumers are purchasing, said Valerie Moens, spokeswoman for Mondelez International.

“Smart Shelf is about better understanding shopper behavior and engaging with our customers at the point of buying,” Moens said. “Using Microsoft’s Kinect technology, sensors are used to track the shopper’s actions and interactions with the shelf.”

The sensory shelves will better track who is buying what and gives Mondelez and other corporations the opportunity to engage with consumers, she said.

Orin Yaw, a computer programmer in Gainesville, said the Smart Shelf would be beneficial in grocery stores.

“I shop at Publix every week, and I actually check for coupons and codes on my phone already, so the new technology would only be more beneficial,” he said.

Yaw shops for snacks and food items that are quick to prepare. The Smart Shelf would be able to track what customers — like Yaw — shop for on a regular basis.

“The technology compares facial features with proprietary algorithms to determine a person’s gender and approximate age,” Moens said. “We only track gestures to see what products have actually been picked up.”

Privacy is important, so Smart Shelf will be anonymous and will not save images of shoppers, Moens said.

“Privacy is of the utmost importance, and Smart Shelf will only focus on adults,” she said.

Smart Shelf shows how technology is constantly improving, said Rory Skinner, a 25-year-old veteran living in Gainesville.

“Technology is progressing, and this new product will help stores cater to customers better,” Skinner said.

“It isn’t weird at all. It’s innovative,” he said.

Brian Jablonski, a store team leader at Target in Gainesville, said this new technology could be useful and helpful in Target stores.

“We’re always looking into things to see how we can make our stores better for the customers, said Jablonski.

Jablonski wasn’t certain of whether Target stores in and around Gainesville will definitely invest in the Smart Shelf, but he said they are willing to experiment with new and improved methods to better serve customers.

Moens said Smart Shelf is still in the experimental stages, but operational pilots will be held next year.


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