Customer Experience News & Trends

The data-collecting trend customers say is way too creepy

Customers know you follow what they buy and when they buy it through loyalty cards and account histories – and they often appreciate that you can recommend something they’d like based on that data. But this data-collecting trend may have gone too far:

Customers are all but saying, “That’s too creepy” when they heard major retailers like Nordstrom and regional grocery chains are trying to learn more about them in a way that only online retailers have been able to do so far.

They’re tracking customers’ movements via cell phones. Yep, they want to know if women buy shoes before the dress or decide on beef over chicken after a lengthy visit to the vegetable aisle.

The technology behind the trend

Here’s how it works: Customers’ smartphones emit signals when searching for Wi-Fi (which is almost always as people move around). Phones transmit signals that software can pick up and use to determine where people are in stores and for what length of time.

It’s the kind of information online retailers have gathered for years, by tracking the pages and items customers look at on their websites.

Differing opinions

“Way over the line,” one customer posted on Facebook in response to Nordstrom’s admission to tracking movement. Conversely, some customers have said they wouldn’t mind if appropriate coupons showed up on their smartphones based on the department they’re in or product they’re looking at.

Oddly enough, however, most customers don’t have problem with other, similar forms of online creeping — ones that use cookies and other data-collecting technologies to know who customers are and what they do.

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