Big Retailer adopts tech to take on online rivals

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SummaryA face scanner may check your age and gender while sensors pick up your body heat to help locate popular parts of the store

or store personal data.

Its advisers say some other retailers are less responsible.

“Too much is happening without consumer consent,” said Simon Hay, chief executive of Dunnhumby, the customer science company owned by Tesco that is behind its loyalty scheme. “You have to be transparent with data, tell people what you're doing with it and why and give them something in return.”

That has long been the philosophy behind loyalty schemes, which are getting ever smarter as retailers link data from more sources.

Even if a customer does not use their smartphone while in a store, retailers can already deploy Wi-Fi signals to track their location to within three metres, said Darren Vengroff, chief scientist at US data company RichRelevance.

“Every retailer wants to better understand their customer,” said Vengroff, previously the principal engineer at Amazon who helps clients like Wal-Mart, Sears and Marks and Spencer provide more targeted offers to shoppers.

Many consumers are already shrugging off privacy concerns and embracing tracking technology: European retail consultancy Jupiter has seen a 90% opt-in rate for a platform which offers marketing and mobile payments on smartphones.

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