A new startup called Euclid Elements emerged from stealth mode today to debut its customer-tracking solution for brick-and-mortar merchants it's calling "Google Analytics for the physical world." The name is an apt description for the new solution, which employs sensors and wireless technology to track customer behavior, as its founding team actually includes former Google Analytics engineers. Euclid also announced its $5.8 million in Series A funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Harrison Metal, Triple Point Capital and other angel investors. Euclid Co-founder Scott Crosby previously co-founded Urchin, which was acquired by Google in 2005 and became Google Analytics. His brother, Brett Crosby, also an Urchin Co-founder, now sits on Euclid's board. The company's CEO, Will Smith, has an interesting background too, as the grandson of John Smith, an early shopping center developer and co-founder of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). You can kind of say that retail runs in his blood. The rest of the 15-person team, primarily engineers (save for one new hire), has backgrounds that include experience at ShopperTrak, IBM, Ariba, TIBCO/Reuters, Google, Playdom, Qualcomm, 23AndMe and Mint/Intuit. So what does Euclid actually do? It uses preconfigured in-store sensors plugged directly into switch in the network closet to track the Wi-Fi signals on customers' smartphones. In doing so, Euclid can map out and analyze customer shopping behavior, including things like foot patterns (the movement in and out and through the store), plus customer loyalty, retention rates, "dwell time," and even things like "window conversion rates," which can be thought of as the offline "click-though." (A window conversion means a customer sees a window display and then decides to enter the store). The technology has been in development for a year and nine months, says Smith. He also explains that the sensors don't collect personally identifiable information on customers themselves, despite their ability to track an individual's movements throughout the store. "The phones ping for access points in the store, and the sensor listens for that," he says. "It then hashes the MAC address on the phone." What that means is that the sensor isn't storing the actual unique identifier (the MAC address) itself, but a representation of that. For customers who still feel uncomfortable, stores will display a sign indicating how to opt-out of the data collection process. Although the data is not available in real-time (there's a 12-hour delay), it is presented in an online dashboard similar to Google Analytics. The focus for the team's efforts now is on improving the dashboard's interface. The analytics service will be sold to merchants on a subscription basis at a cost of $200 per sensor per month. One sensor covers around 1.3 zones (departments), so a large retailer like a Macy's might need a few sensors to cover its whole store. Palo Alto-based Euclid Elements has been in private beta testing with select retailers in the San Francisco Bay area like Philz Coffee, but is now open to all U.S. merchants.
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