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IoT-enabled shopping cart analyzes customer behaviour in retail stores

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Proximus, a start-up in the Vivero de Empresas del Parque Científico de la Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M Science Park Business Incubator), has developed technology for creating a map of how we shop in the supermarket thanks to a chip that is built into shopping carts and baskets.

This new IoT-enabled system can determine, for example, if the customer pays attention to special offers, which route they take in the store and which products they stop and look at. “In our first test we realized that clients in a supermarket didn’t walk down a certain aisle because the pet food was located too close to the mild. When we changed the pet food for muffins, people went down that aisle again and, the cross-sales of breakfast foods skyrocketed,” explains Jorge Bueno, CEO of Proximus.

The sensors that are installed in carts and baskets emit a short wave signal via Bluetooth to a set of receivers located in the ceiling; these in turn send the information to the cloud. In this way, it is possible to know each shopper’s position and the amount of time they stay in one place, giving information in real time about the section of the store where the most people are or how fast the check-out lines are moving, for example.

All of the information that the system generates is stored in a web page where flow diagram can be found, in order to analyze the movement of carts within the store, or where there are heat maps with specific information regarding the traffic in each section of the store “More than thirty parameters of customer behaviour are analyzed,” indicates Jorge Bueno.

This tool uses techniques from the field of robotics, the scientific area that several of its creators come from, to analyze the position and behaviour of users inside stores and large commercial establishments. Thanks to its own interior positioning algorithm and its Big Data motor, Proximus enables users to determine metrics in order to improve marketing campaigns. “We are focused on providing new information to these chains so that they can improve their strategic decisions on a daily basis, physically in their stores. This is like Google Analytics for physical space”, explains Bueno.

In addition, Proximus has a system of notifications that proved and alert when it detects unforeseen events. “While the analytics are designed to help a store manager see the current state of the supermarket, the notifications allow managers to maintain control over their places without having to be in staring at the screen all of the time, since the alarm will be activated whenever it detects a specific anomaly,” the company explains.

The system has already been tested in Carrefour and Proximus is working with some of the most important retail chains in Europe. In addition, the firm has just signed an agreement with Unilever in Singapore to monitor the brand in supermarkets there.

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