A system called Mobile Location Analytics (MLA) allows stores to track consumers’ visits through their mobile phones. This can be done because smartphones, when trying to connect to the internet, send out a unique ID code called Media Access Control which enables individual consumers to be tracked.
The purpose of the technology is to inform retailers on consumer shopping behaviour. An American location analytics company describes their service 'Locately' as:
"Our expertise is the science of location analytics: mining huge volumes of location data from mobile phones to understand where and how people shop. Our technology platform detects visits and sends shoppers in-the-moment mobile surveys to understand what they do and why, and measuring the awareness and impact of in-store shopper marketing activations."