High-Tech at The Bay: New smartphone app tracks shoppers in Vancouver store

8200317902_04cd2c4801_zShopping at The Bay may never be the same.

Hudson’s Bay Co. is rolling out new smartphone technology at five Canadian stores, including a Vancouver location, according to the Vancouver Sun.  The location-sensing technology will blast special offers to consumers depending on exactly where they’re standing in the store.  The special sensors can also track the overall location of shoppers to better understand buying behaviours.

The Bay joins American Apparel as one of the first Canadian retailers to embrace the new location-sensing technology.  8200341480_b25ab8151d_zBeacons will be positioned throughout the store, including at entrances.  These beacons can pick up signals from iPhones equipped with Apple’s iBeacon technology (which enables wireless communication at short distances, similar to Bluetooth). The result: Shoppers who walk by, say, the cosmetics section may be automatically zapped with special discounts and offers for cosmetics.

Importantly, the new technology is opt-in only.  In other words, to get these special notices, customers first have to first download a compatible app.  Currently, the Hudson’s Bay’s gift registry app and a coupon app called SnipSnap are the only options.  Then, users must enable location-sharing and push notifications on their phones.  Only then will they get special discounts based on where they roam inside The Bay store.

8199205177_74cda948e4_zWhile these location-based systems may seem high-tech, they are widely in use across the U.S.  Shoppers in Kenneth Cole, Timberland and Alex and Ani stores are already getting customized coupons based on which section of the store they explore.  The potential upside is twofold: customers get offers they can actually use, while retailers get detailed information about where shoppers go and what they look at inside a store.

But not everyone is comfortable with the concept of being tracked while shopping, according to the Sun article. Nordstrom abandoned a trial run with similar technology earlier this spring in response to widespread complaints from customers who felt they were being spied upon in the stores.

What do you think about location-tracking technology keeping tabs on shoppers in Vancouver stores? Let us know below. 

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