Sense360 raises $7 million to track customers in fast food restaurants

Physical tracking in shops has been a global trend since at least 2013.Using a cell phones location data and video monitoring, retailers have beentracking customers movements through stores in an effort to regain some of the ground lost to the online retail experience.

At least, thats the argument from stores. And now fast food restaurants are picking up the rallying cry.

On the back of nearly 20,000 fast food locations usingits customer-tracking technologies in stores, the Los Angeles-based startupSense360has raised $7 million in its first round of financing.

The mobile-sensing technologies that are at the heart of Sense360s technology track location and survey data from customers to sell to fast food stores customer feedback (both voluntary and involuntary) on whats working and whats not working at locationsaround the country.

Investors in the round included Firstmark, Qualcomm Ventures and Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures.

The company also established an advisory board with heavy hitters from fast food restaurants, like Joel Aach, a former vice president at Darden Restaurants (the company behind The Olive Garden restaurant chain and others); and Huw Griffiths, the global chief product officer at the marketing firm Universal McCann.

Sense360 isnt the only company thats looking at customer behavior. BirdEyeraised $25 million in Februaryto not onlyanalyze customer behavior and feedback but also to provide a sort of relationship managementthat the company said can help convert negative sentiment into positive experiences.

Both companies are building on the foundation laid by other startups, likeShopperTrak,Retail Next,NomiandPrism Skylabs.

Aware of the pushback that has shuttered a number of location-tracking services in higher-end retail outlets, Sense360 chief executive Eli Portnoy takes pains to highlight the care with which Sense360 approaches customer data.

We only work with apps that have a legitimate reason to collect location data and all participating apps must get user consent to acquire and share the location data, Portnoy wrote to me in an email. We also do not collect personally identifiable information. In fact, we intentionally obscure sensitive data like wifi access points so that we cannot access that information, ensuring added privacy.

Portnoy said that the company never shares individual data with third parties, and that all reporting is provided in an aggregated format.

That means Sense360 isnt sharing data, just access to the dashboard that allows restaurants to view the data thats been collected.

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