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Milan-Based Company Launches Multi-Tech Device For Tracking Real-World Customers
Taggalo wants to go beyond what RetailNext, Quividi and others are doing to put brick-and-mortar store visitors inside analytics.
Brick-and-mortar retailers need a better way to put their real-world customers inside analytics.
That’s the basic idea behind Taggalo, a device and service launched today by the Milan, Italy-based company of the same name.
Founded in 2012, the company originally focused on digital signage, but it has now pivoted to providing this product for stores of all sizes.
Other vendors are offering real-world analytics, Taggalo investor Paolo Guida told me, but they are focused on only one or two technologies. He pointed to RetailNext as combining only video analytics and WiFi tracking, the French company Quividi as employing only video analytics, and Euclid Analytics in the US as focusing on WiFi tracking.
Instead, Taggalo provides what it says is the only all-in-one device that combines video analytics, WiFi tracking and beacon technology, with the data presented via a web dashboard. It also offers a white-label mobile app for stores to use with the beacon functionality.
In addition to offering more data, Guida said, the perceived opportunity is that other devices are too technically complex for many store owners to install and manage without specialists.
By contrast, he said, Taggalo’s devices and service can be set up in minutes. The company envisions that a typical retailer in a 100-square-meter store will employ three devices, such as one outside the main store window, one above the entrance and one inside. A detachable camera on each unit allows for video capture that is virtually unseen.
Taggalo, which developed its own video analytics and WiFi tracking, charges a purchase price of about $250 for each device, plus a small monthly fee for the data about people who come in or near the store.
The stats can include the number of people who walk by the store, the number of customers who pause to look at a product and the time spent, which smartphones are making a repeat visit (as determined by their anonymous device IDs) and the demographics of store customers.
This latter category includes not just gender and age approximation, but also “ethnic group.” The company said this includes race, such as Caucasian or African-American. When I asked if this kind of racial tracking could be a problem, CEO Luca Nestola told me that Taggalo just provided the data, and it was up to the store to use it responsibly. It’s not clear yet what legitimate value racial identification offers to stores.
About a dozen retailers have been using the devices in Europe and the US, the company said, including Altromercato, a consortium of shops in Italy. Taggalo said that there have been reports of sales lifts of two to three percent by some stores because of better customer info.
One question is whether, when such in-store tracking becomes more commonplace, we will see the kind of pushback from consumers we’re already seeing to online tracking.
In other words, will people start employing store-blocking software when they go to the mall, the way many are now using ad-blocking?
Another question is whether customers know they are being tracked. Nuca said it is best practice — but optional — for store owners to post a sign saying, in effect, “we have sensors in this store to collect marketing information.”
There’s also the question of what happens when facial recognition becomes commonplace. Taggalo classifies race by matching facial morphology to a database of facial types, a process that could evolve into facial identification. UK-based Apical for instance, similarly provides visual tracking that, it acknowledges, could be used by other software for identifying faces.
Nestola told me that when customers see the value of store tracking, they accept it as a benefit. However, this kind of tracking isn’t personalized, unless the store employs the white-label app and the beacon technology to provide, say, on-the-spot discount coupons.
Even without that, he said, customers can see the benefits when the store stocks products and sets prices that are based on its heightened ability to target its customers.