Retail Stores Are Using Wi-Fi To Track Customer Buying Habits

As modern society creeps closer and closer to a fully digitized future, most of the moves will be incremental. Step by step, things that used to seem bizarre become normalized and acceptable. Case in point, the latest retail tactics being used by stores to monitor your purchasing habits.

Brick and mortar stores, feeling left out by the aggressiveness of online retail operations, are instituting technology that can track in-store customers using Wi-Fi.

From the NY Times:

Nordstrom wanted to learn more about its customers — how many came through the doors, how many were repeat visitors — the kind of information that e-commerce sites like Amazon have in spades. So last fall the company started testing new technology that allowed it to track customers’ movements by following the Wi-Fi signals from their smartphones.

Nordstrom’s experiment is part of a movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shoppers’ behavior and moods, using video surveillance and signals from their cellphones and apps to learn information as varied as their sex, how many minutes they spend in the candy aisle and how long they look at merchandise before buying it.

Other retailers are following along with this method of customer tracking, and soon it will be widespread. That is, unless people push back against it. At what point do we as a society hit the pause button on privacy? Seems like now is as good a time as any.

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