Most of us have accepted the fact that when we log on to a website, web cookies are tracking our every click. That’s how sites like this can tell what people are reading and what they’re ignoring, which all helps inform what those sites publish next. The same goes for e-commerce sites. If you click a pair of shoes at Saks.com several times, maybe even drop it into a virtual shopping cart, it’s likely you’ll see ads for that exact shoe hours, even days, later.
Whether or not you bought the shoes only matters a little. Cookies allow e-commerce sites to track consumer behavior, which in turn better informs what each site looks like, what kinds of products it offers and where else on the web it buys ads.
Retailers want to be able to gather the same data that they gather online at their brick-and-mortar stores. Until recently, that hasn’t been possible. The advent of smartphones, however, means that retailers are increasingly able to track your every move.
And just like there are multiple analytics platforms on the web — from Google Analytics to my particular favorite, Omniture — there are dozens of in-store analytics programs, too, many of which have received millions of dollars in venture capital funding over the past couple of years.
The one you’re most likely to encounter initially is iBeacon, which was developed by Apple . […]