Privacy is becoming a rare commodity. And shoppers really shouldn’t expect much of it when they’re browsing malls and other retailers. But new technology that enables retailers to track shoppers’ movements and spending habits in real time is raising new questions about privacy. A new story in the Wall Street Journal has a closer look at the tracking technology that retailers are utilizing.
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, many of these devices track consumers through their smartphones. Others simply scan the aisles of your favorite retailers to see where shoppers tend to congregate.
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 says 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, as a way to gain an advantage on their competitors.
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 after they discovered the retailer’s tracking technology. It’s not clear whether Nordstrom will keep their tracking program, with a company spokesperson indicating to the Journal that the program was only intended as a trial run. One thing’s certain, however, today’s shoppers should not expect any kind of privacy as they’re browsing the store.