So here’s some news that might make you feel creepy if you shop in a Nordstrom store.  Back in October, Nordstrom’s launched a 17 store pilot that enables it to follow shoppers around the store.  I just learned about this pilot in stories reported by Erik Sherman on CBS MoneyWatch (, “Retailers want to track your every move”, May 9th) and Angela Martin on CBS’ Dallas-Forth Worth affiliate (, “Nordstrom Using Smart Phones to Track Customers Movements”).

Mr. Sherman cites, a retail trade website, for some of his information.  Both Mr. Sherman and Ms. Martin outlined what the Nordstrom pilot is doing.  Using technology from Euclid Elements, Nordstrom has installed sensors in the pilot stores.  The sensors look for shoppers whose smartphones have Wi-Fi turned on.

With the Wi-Fi on, the sensors are able to provide data reflecting how much time a shopper spends in a particular department. The sensors can’t identify the aisle in which the shopper is located or any personal information tied to the smartphone owner.  However, the technology does use the smartphone’s unique identifier which might make some Nordstrom customers uncomfortable — especially as customers don’t know this is happening.

When asked about the pilot, a Nordstrom spokesperson said the technology’s being tested in the pilot stores to help improve its customer service; and so that store executives can learn which departments  receive the most traffic.  Of course, this type of customer information, even if anonymous, is very valuable to store executives.

The 17 pilot stores weren’t identified so I can’t help there.  But here’s what I can help you with — turn off the Wi-Fi on your smartphone if you don’t want to become even anonymous data to Nordstrom about your shopping habits.