I met a traveler from an antique land who said, “I read an article in the New York Times about how stores are now using their unwitting customers’ cell phone signals to track their movements within the store.”
I can picture it now. A major retailer is having its mid-July meeting, and the Director of Sales is going over old and new business.
“All right, let’s see where we are. Winston, are all the school supplies on the shelves?”
“Yes sir. As of 11:59 on the night of July 4th we started putting out the pens and pencils and notebooks of every size, shape, and cover material.”
“Good. And when is the Christmas merchandise going out?”
“We’re aiming for middle of next week, sir.”
“Excellent. Okay. Now, on to new business. I believe you were going to prepare a presentation for us on the new technology that allows us to track customers through the store using their cell phone signals.”
“Yes, sir. If you’ll direct your attention to the screen here, you’ll note the squiggly neon lines winding around the screen.”
“Yes, I see,” says the Director. “It looks like my kid drawing with crayons on the kitchen tile.”
“That’s an excellent analogy, sir. Now, each squiggly line represents a customer.”
“But I don’t understand. We’ve been using cameras to monitor the customers for years. How is this cell phone thing different?”
“Well, sir, a camera allows you watch the customer, but unless you are very attentive and don’t take any coffee or Facebook breaks you won’t know all of the products the customer looked at or for how long the customer looked. This technology bridges the gap. The customer’s odyssey through our aisles is tracked, and the longer a customer stays in one spot, the darker the line becomes at that point.”
“What is that customer doing over there?”
“Looking at platinum bound notebooks.”
“Oh, those are a hot new item. Wait! Where is the customer going now?”
“Looks like the customer is heading over to the cheaper notebooks.”
“Did he, she or it take a platinum notebook?”
“Let me check out the video camera. No, it looks like her arms are empty.”
“We have to redirect her back to the more expensive notebooks. Captain Riker!”
“Use those things we bought from The Hunger Games auction to help our customer back to the overpriced school supplies.”
Captain Riker pushes a button, and suddenly the customer is met with a wall of fireballs heading directly towards her. She turns around and runs to the exit of the store, but then is met with a swarm of bees whose stingers dispense hallucinogenic poison. The customer runs from aisle to aisle. The Director watches the whole thing from a screen mounted next to the Keurig coffee dispenser. Eventually the customer finds refuge in the aisle with the platinum notebooks.
“Ex-cel-lent,” the Director says, blowing on his coffee. “Now she has no choice but to—wait, what is she doing?”
The screen shows the customer tying four of the notebooks together to create a platinum shield. Holding the shield squarely in front of her, she runs right through the wall of fireballs to the notebooks bound with soft cardboard, retailing at $1.29 apiece. She grabs a few and, still holding her shield aloft, runs to the checkout line while the fire behind her consumes erasable markers and glittered index cards and fish-shaped wastepaper baskets.
“I can’t believe she did that!” the Director screams. “Now how are we going to control the customers?”
“Well, sir,” says Winston, “did you ever see Inception?”
11 thoughts on “Remember When Stores Couldn’t Track You Within the Store?”
I was laughing until it dawned on me that we are pretty close to that possibility!
We should stop resisting. The sooner they can take over my brain the sooner they can help me think of gifts for those people who already have everything.
You might want to rethink that Mark, because they will steer you to the very expensive stuff and before you know it, your wife will leave you and you’ll be sleeping on a park bench…just sayin’
OMG this is hilarious!
Great post, if worrisome. Can they do that when the phone is off?
Thank you. You know, I don’t know whether they can do that. I think in the article or in the comments to the article someone mentioned that people would just shut their phones off. But who (except for you and probably me as well) would remember to do that? And even if they did, would they remember to turn their phones on again when they were in the checkout line so they could have a conversation while waiting?
I seriously couldn’t stop laughing. Very well written!
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed.
Reblogged this on onelastpage and commented:
I can see it coming. *runs*
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