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The sophisticated tech of tracking shoppers

Business Technology | January 23, 2014

How much privacy can you expect when looking for a winter coat at your local outlet store? What about when you’re browsing the shops at the nearest indoor mall? Well, you shouldn’t expect much. New technology is rendering it ever easier for retailers to spy on the products you buy and the path you travel through a store or mall. A new story by the Wall Street Journal explores how sophisticated retailers are getting with regards to monitoring your shopping habits.


According to the Wall Street Journal story, retailers today rely on a host of small electronic gadgets to track where their customers are traveling inside their stores, how much they purchase and how long they’re standing in lines. As the Journal says, some of these devices track consumers through their smartphones. Others scan the aisles of your favorite retailers to discover where shoppers tend to congregate.

A common trend

According to the Wall Street Journal story, this shopping technology is becoming more popular. The story points to The Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank that claims that about 1,000 retailers have outfitted their stores with sensors that track the activities of shoppers. These retailers say that the tech will give them important information about their consumers’ shopping habits, in an effort to gain an advantage on their competitors.

Privacy concerns

Consumers, naturally, aren’t happy to hear about this high-tech monitoring. The Wall Street Journal reports on the negative reaction from customers of Nordstrom once they discovered the retailer’s tracking technology. It’s not clear if Nordstrom will keep their tracking program, with a company spokesperson telling the Journal that the program was just intended as a trial run. One thing’s certain, however, today’s shoppers should not expect any kind of privacy when they’re browsing the aisles.


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