Jason Del Rey

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In-Store Tracking Isn’t Going Anywhere: Nomi Close to Landing Around $10 Million Series B Investment

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Nomi, a New York City-based startup that tracks shoppers’ mobile phones to help retail shops gather data on customer activity in their stores, is close to landing a Series B investment, sources told AllThingsD. Accel Partners is expected to be a new investor in the round.

The new infusion of cash is expected to be around $10 million, one source said.

Nomi CEO Marc Ferrentino declined to comment.

Earlier this year, Nomi raised a $3 million Series A investment from First Round Capital, Greycroft Partners, Forerunner Ventures and SV Angel.

Nomi is among a handful of startups, including Euclid and RetailNext, that are gaining traction with retailers by bringing metrics popular in Web analytics, such as conversion rate and bounce rate, to brick-and-mortar retail shops that historically know very little about who walks in and out of their stores each day.

Though the methods for gathering data on shoppers differ from startup to startup, the goal is much the same: Give offline commerce operations more granular insight into how many people are visiting their stores, how frequently, and where they are spending time inside a given shop during a visit.

Nomi works with a company’s existing technology or installs its own hardware that can track the Wi-Fi signals emanating from a shopper’s smartphone, assuming that they have one. But the startup attempts to go a step further, by telling retailers the identity of shoppers visiting their stores, assuming shoppers opt-in in some fashion.

In doing so, Nomi is selling retailers on the ability to connect the dots between what a shopper does online and what they do in stores, allowing the opportunity to personalize offers and recommendations to this person both in stores and online.

At the same time, similar efforts — even those not linking phones to a person’s identity — have drawn the ire of privacy advocates and politicians alike, causing some retailers to pull out of experimenting with similar technologies.

That’s one reason that the approach of one competitor, Euclid, is different. The Palo Alto-based startup, which has raised more than $23 million, does track phones, and provides stores with metrics such as unique visitors, customer frequency and duration of visit. With this information, stores can benchmark themselves against other similar types of stores in the Euclid network.

But Euclid has refused retailer requests to try to connect a phone ID with a shopper’s real identity.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work