Tech Industry

App helps Apple locate customers

App lets customers buy items on their iPhone before entering a store, then informs employees when the customer has arrived to pick up their purchases, a store employee tells the New York Times.

An app notifies employees at Apple stores--like the iconic one on New York's Fifth Avenue--when customers have arrived to pick up their purchases.

In Apple's continuing effort to streamline the shopping process at its retail stores, the company has reportedly launched software that informs its employees when shopper has arrived to pick up a purchase.

The free Apple Store app allows shoppers to buy Apple products before entering a retail outlet and then alerts store employees that the customer has arrived to retrieve their purchases, according to a New York Times report. A store employee told the newspaper that 16 customers used the location feature to pickup purchases at the company's Palo Alto, Calif., store on Friday.

Employees already have a system in places that allows them to locate customers in the store who have questions about merchandise. An iPad next to products displays information about the item and features a button that allows customers to summon further assistance. The request is then transmitted to an employee's iPod Touch, which shows the customer's location in the store.

"It's more toward customer experience," employee Diego Aguirre told the newspaper. "We don't want to feel like we're hassling our customers to shop. We want them to feel at home."

Thanks to smartphones' GPS capabilities, mobile location tracking of customers is becoming more common. Beginning on Black Friday, shopping malls in Southern California and Virginia began monitoring signals from shoppers' cell phones to see traffic patterns in the various stores. No personal data will be collected and the information will remain anonymous, and shoppers are given notice by small signs around the malls.