Did You Know Stores Are Tracking Your Cell Phone For Marketing Intel

Did you know that places where you shop can and are tracking you and your cell phone to determine behavioral tendencies in their stores?  It's a marketing angle for the stores and their sales team, and it's an interesting one.  But are people able to handle this idea?

Your phone, if it connects automatically to the store's Wi-Fi system, they can track your behavior.

So if you walk into a store, they can see where you go, how long you linger in sections, and where you go from there.

This tech isn't just for shopping retail stores.  It's also being used by places like coffee shops... where they are determining how long clients/customers are spending in their stores.


Apparently Nordstrom started doing this last year, but to be fair, they did make public postings in their stores saying this.

And to be fair... the process tracks a Wi-Fi signal.

And as customers started grumbling about this, Nordstrom says they stopped the program.


What's interesting is that many retailers are looking at this integral piece of marketing information or intel, and then they can start making smarter business decisions about sales practices.

The end-consumer could probably benefit from this, as you will start seeing only stuff you want in stores.  Plus, in my mind, this can help brick-and-mortar retailers to survive in this world of online economy.


All the retailers say they're doing nothing more than what the internet/websites have been doing for years.  This is their form of a web browser cookie, when they track your movement via your cellphone.

And oddly, many users are OK with browser cookies because it does not identify them personally.

The idea that you’re being stalked in a store is, I think, a bit creepy, as opposed to, it’s only a cookie — they don’t really know who I am.”

Yet what web surfers don't realize is that one cookie may not give a lot of information away, but dozens of cookies on your system, that are read by other websites, could spell out quite a bit about themselves.

For example... I know when people come to one of my websites, what gender, what their education levels are and many more aspects of information that many don't realize are culled from their systems.


If you think this premise is something new, it's not.  Some retailers have been studying their customers via video footage, and cataloging behavior in different sections of the store for some time.

Of course, if your Wi-Fi is on, and you also love your store so much that you have their app, well, "game over man!"  They know who you are when you downloaded their app and signed up with it.


Then of course, there's the inverse of being tracked, and that's telling retailers whaat you're doing.  And getting paid for it?

Look, folks think life is a private thing, where what they do is their business.  If they're on the band wagon with accepting browser settings as-is, or use smartphones, the gig is up.

If you use email, the gig started being up then.  Once you branch out to social networks, or have all your features on your phone turned on (the default settings), you're giving up a ton of info to anyone who will look or listen.

Once you go out your door, it's not your call what's your business or not.  Anyone just looking at you will know what you're doing.  You going out your door is akin to the privacy forfeited once things are in your trash can!  It's fair game in the public domain.

Just sayin'.  You might want to be prepared for it.

Me?  Since I don't trust unknown third parties, my Wi-Fi is set to only connect to my home network, and nothing else.  My GPS is off unless I intend to actively use it.  And various other modes.

Sure, it's a pain to some degree, but it's what makes me feel a little more comfortable.  I couldn't tell you why.  It just does.

{NY Times}
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