Most folks don’t include chips and chocolate on their shopping lists — but they return home from the store with the stuff in their bags. The market for these goodies is largely courtesy of impulse purchases, impetuously made by shoppers who can’t resist their siren’s call from the retail shelves.
New technology means retailers can capitalize on this reality more directly.
“Smart” store shelves are being developed by Mondelēz International, the world’s largest chocolatier, biscuit-baker and candy-maker, and the second-largest manufacturer of gum. It will employ Microsoft’s gesture-based Kinect for Windows technology in these innovative marvels to identify the age and gender of pondering shoppers, and then target them with commercials and coupons aimed precisely at them.
The sensor-laden shelves will be placed near checkout counters in a bid to render their snack-food-resistance efforts useless with a nearby video display whose personalized messages will encourage them to give in to their urges.
If the customer takes the bait, maybe plucking up that bag of Jolly Rancher candies for contemplation, weight sensors on the shelf will sense the activity and seek to seal the deal by displaying a coupon for the item in question.
This development represents a first for sensor-based technology, till now most visibly deployed in hotel-room minibars to track use according to weight.
In the longer term, the full body of these collected data can inform retailers on consumer behaviour, and assist them lucratively with placement and promotion decisions.
Mondelēz’s game-changing shelves are predicted to be in general use by 2015.