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updated 3/2/2012 9:18:54 AM ET 2012-03-02T14:18:54

Looking for more attention when shopping for a Gucci or a Prada? Got an iPhone?

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Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is testing a new iPhone-only app to help deepen relationships between its sales associates and shoppers.

Using the app, Neiman Marcus's well-heeled clientele can find out immediately which of their favorite sales associates is in the store. In turn, when a customer checks in, sales associates are notified and can access information about the customer's buying history and cater to his or her needs.

Neiman Marcus has found that customers who shop with the same associate three times spend almost 10 times more than those who go to a random sales clerk, spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said.

The Dallas-based retailer will test the program in four stores — in Dallas and Austin, Texas, and in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif.

Reeder said the company already is giving sales associates Apple's iPhone, and the new software will "speed up the connection" between customer and associate.

"People are already making connections," she said. "Let's employ technology to help further build that relationship."

Here's how the new technology, developed by startup firm Signature Labs in San Francisco, works: First, the customer downloads the app, dubbed NM Service, from iTunes and opts into the service. Location sensors throughout the store pick up signals from her phone and let the customer know which associates are at work. She also can get messages about upcoming events and new products. Even when they're not in the store, customers using the app can mark favorite products to show sales clerks.

As for sales associates, they can notify a client when a hot product comes in — and they will be able to recognize customers from the Facebook photos that accompanies their NM Service profiles.

Shoppers will have the option of refraining from getting assistance.

David Hegarty, CEO and Founder of Signature, said the company is working with other upscale retailers also considering offering the app. More than just pinging shoppers discount information when they step into a store, he said his company wants to create connections.

"Our goal is to help build a better relationship with customers," he said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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