SAN ANTONIO — With 120 ceiling cameras and video analytics software, Food Lion is tracking shoppers in two test stores from the point they enter until they make their purchase, said Rick Anicetti, chief executive officer of Delhaize America Shared Services at last week's 2010 Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit, hosted by SymphonyIRI.
Food Lion hopes to map 600,000 individual customer trips by October, and link the information to transactional data gleaned from loyalty card purchases. It hopes to identify factors that stand in the way of shopper purchases.
“Loyalty card data will not tell me which aisle the customer went down and whether they made the transaction they intended to or not,” he said. “It seems the only way we're going to understand how a customer begins to make the kind of transaction we're talking about is to follow them around the entire store, which seems impossible, but the answer to that is the two lab stores.”
To ensure an appropriate sample size, Food Lion will add two more lab stores by year's end, Anicetti said. Its initial test stores have tracked shoppers since October, Rajeev Sharma, founder and CEO of VideoMining Corp., Food Lion's technology provider, told SN.
In addition to Food Lion, the company works with three other food retailers, providing in-store intelligence tools like a facial recognition software that categorizes shoppers by demographics while ensuring their anonymity.
Notices at the Food Lion lab stores indicate to shoppers that cameras are being used for market research purposes. The footage is fed to a computer that produces a set of numbers representing the consumer's path and indicating where in the store they spent an extended period of time, explained Sharma. Consumer interviews will help fill in the blanks. The footage is not viewed by a person.
“We look at hundreds of thousands of shopping trips, and at different times at Food Lion we talk to consumers to try to understand reasons for their different behavior,” Sharma said.
The pilot will give Food Lion the opportunity to test the influence on shoppers of different merchandising displays and price points.
“Through an educated intervention, we can begin to increase participation and the possibility of an ultimate purchase by the consumer,” Anicetti said.
The technology Food Lion is using to analyze the video it captures is “essentially based on facial recognition software,” but it is not being used in that capacity, spokeswoman Jennifer Speck told SN.
“This technology doesn't obtain photos of customers, and it doesn't recognize customers' faces,” she said. “Basically it tracks people's movements through the store without identifying shoppers.”