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Intel Underfoot: Floor Sensors Rise As Retail Data Source

Milwaukee-Based Startup Scanalytics Helps Businesses Track Customers With Sensors Under Flooring

J. Pat Carter/AP Photo

Floor sensors that track people’s movements are providing insight into consumer habits for stores looking to gain ground on e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Brick-and-mortar stores have lagged behind online retailers on data collection because computer clicks are more easily analyzed than customers in physical spaces. But Milwaukee-based startup Scanalytics is helping businesses explore ways to track customers with paper-thin sensors tucked under existing flooring or utility mats.

The sensors help stores know where customers linger the longest, what products are popular and precisely when to schedule staff to handle heavy traffic.

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The sensors are just one of many tracking options that have become available to retailers in recent years. Video cameras with artificial intelligence can analyze body motions to identify products that attract customers and give them customized offers.