‘Spying mannequins’ collect data

UK retailers could soon be deploying ‘spying mannequins’ – which use facial recognition software to gather data such as the age, gender, and race of shoppers – to tailor their marketing and instore promotions.
Retailers in Europe and the US are introducing the EyeSee mannequin, sold by Italian firm Almax SpA, to capture the sort of shopper data normally gathered only by online merchants.
The devices, which cost about £3,000, have spurred shops to adjust window displays, store layouts and promotions. And while some stores deploy similar technology to watch shoppers from security cameras, the EyeSee provides better data because it stands at eye level, Almax claims.
The company says that one outlet adjusted its window displays after revealing that men who shopped in the first two days of a sale spent more than women. Another store found that a third of visitors using one of its doors after 4pm were Asian, prompting it to place Chinese-speaking staff by that entrance.
Max Catanese, chief executive officer of Almax has refused to name clients, citing confidentiality agreements. Five companies, including leading fashion brands, are using the mannequins with orders from at least that many more, he said. To meet data protection requirements, retailers simply have to have a closed-circuit television licence.
Lorna Hall, retail editor at fashion forecaster WGSN, said: “The retail community is starting to get wise to the opportunity around personalisation. The golden ticket is getting to the point where they’ve got my details, they know what I bought last time I came in.”

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