Shops use spy techniques to improve customer experience

Retailers are monitoring customers’ facial expressions, heart rate and even pupil dilation in order to gauge shoppers’ reactions, spot thieves and improve the overall experience.

Shops in Europe and the US have already installed the technology, while trials are being conducted in the UK. The spy-style features can pick up if a customer can’t find a product and judge their reactions to outfits.

In France, a bookseller has been able to sense shoppers’ movements and facial expressions, which can then signal staff to help the customer. The shop says sales have risen by 10% thanks to the new technology.

In Italy, showroom dummies are now equipped with intelligent cameras to record people’s reactions to outfits. Thermal-imaging cameras can also track heart rate to determine if a shopper is interested or stressed.

Mark Thompson, director of retail and hospitality at Zebra Technologies said that the technology is there to improve people's shopping experience but can also identify potential thieves and aid retailers to learn more about customers.