WSJExcerpt from: The Wall Street Journal
Esther Fung

June 7, 2016. Shopping malls are going high-tech.

Making technology investments to improve customer experiences has traditionally been the domain of retailers, which have introduced robots, touch-screen mirrors and virtual-reality goggles to attract shoppers to their stores in recent years.

“We’re bringing the same analytics Amazon used to crush bricks-and-mortar retailers into the real world,” said Sage Osterfeld, chief marketing officer at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sysorex.

The data analytics firm uses a real-time location technology that measures the number of visitors and their dwell times in various parts of the mall using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular data signals emitted by cellphones.

By tracking the cellphone signals in a mall, companies can study the paths visitors take as well as how effective display windows and in-mall advertising are in drawing customers.

This is similar to how is able to measure user engagement by how long cursors hover over a certain part of a webpage, said Mr. Osterfeld. The technology is able to distinguish between visitors and staff, and provides insight as to which storefronts are most popular and which retailers have customers that fan out to other stores in the mall.

For instance, Apple Inc.’s stores are a huge draw for shoppers, allowing the tech giant to bargain for lower rents. With this technology, mall owners will have data regarding how many customers head straight for the Apple store and then leave without cross-shopping at neighboring retailers. This could help to put the floor on rent negotiations.

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