UD1 - thanks for framing your question in the manner that you did... I have always found the value of heat mapping to be questionable.
You appear to accept the fact (as I do) that this technology exists and that it can be configured to physically do what the makers of these products say it can technically do: i.e. map heat signatures via video, based on customer traffic patterns and dwell times in certain areas.
However, you appear to be questioning the actual value of paying for and using this technology in the retail environment.... i.e. what is the ROI of employing this technology?
Excellent question, imo! And one that I've never heard a satisfactory answer to... ;)
As an old-timer, non-amateur in the industry, I like to see that you are questioning the value of this technology rather than just being wowed by the technology itself - which I maintain appears to be the goal of most of the marketing I've seen regarding anyone offering heat mapping in retail environments.
Personally, I find it telling that there are no case studies/testimonials regarding specific 'savings of monies' that can be attributed to a technology that has been deployed in the field for years.
Some (ok, I) would maintain that the reason for this is that any data to suggest that using these products will save a company any money is empirically unproven.
As an example, check out this story on Prism Skylabs - an industry provider of heat mapping analytics for retail environments - from 2014: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-retailers-track-shoppers-in-heat-maps-2014-1
Please note how the story shows pics of all the heat mapping and how the 'blue' areas show that nobody is seeing/touching/buying the stuff located there - and how the writer is wowed by these pictures and the information that they purport to give to the retailer.
In all the stories like this I've read, not ONE author has ever taken a second to step back and note that the 'information' that the blue areas in heat mapping provides is already known to these companies by simple lack of sales of items in that blue region! So why am I paying money every month for analytics to tell me what I already know??
I've asked that last question (admittedly maybe in a hostile manner) openly for years - and I have yet to have anyone who sells this type of product convince me that this technology - at least as it relates to retail environments - is anything other than the emperors new clothes.
Finally - I've harvested 2 key paragraphs from that puff piece to focus on (below):
1. From the middle of the article:
"Experimenting with ideal store layouts isn't a new idea. Groceries, for instance, tend to place their highest margin items at the very front of the store and by the checkout aisle. Research has also shown that people are more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of an aisle. But technology like Prism's makes the analysis possible on an entirely different scale." (note it never defines what the 'different scale' is, nor how it actually provides any more data)
2. Last paragraph of the article (and my personal favorite):
"Prism Skylabs hasn't yet quantified the effect of its technology on sales, but Crosbie (of Prism) guesses that it's "significant." He adds that retailers have spent ages doing manually what Prism is now doing with cameras and computer software. "This has taken a lot of guesswork out," he says."
Where is the data?