Point-of-sale data allows retailers to figure out who purchased what, but its nearly impossible, without asking shoppers, to know why items included on their list didn't make it into their cart. Food Lion is working on a way to get some answers.
Last October it installed 120 cameras in the ceilings of two test stores that track shopper movement from the time they enter the store until the time they leave. While there, they're subject to sophisticated face recognition technology. After their route is mapped information about the path they took, and whether or not they walked up and down several aisles in search of some ingredient, will be tied to transaction data, loyalty card data, segmentation clustering and trip mission analysis. Food Lion plans to have 600,000 individual trips mapped by October.
The test seems like a very interesting one, but privacy issues will almost certainly get in the way. Sure test stores post signs indicating that Food Lion is conducting market research that uses video cameras, but it seems only a matter of time before consumer advocates raise a stink. Shoppers will also likely take issue.
Especially if they're intercepted in the store, their route is read back to them by a researcher, and they're asked about the decisions they made. One of Food Lion's partners told me that the scenario will likely unfold as the test progresses.