Shopper-tracking a growing trend

Privacy has started to become a rare commodity. And shoppers really shouldn’t expect much of it when they are browsing malls and department stores. But new technology that enables retailers to track shoppers’ movements and spending habits instantly is raising new questions about privacy. A story in the Wall Street Journal takes a closer look into the tracking technology that retailers are using.


Retailers today are relying more than ever on small gadgets, often hidden in the most busy areas of a shop or mall, that track shoppers’ cellphones. Other devices monitor the movements of consumers as they shop, providing valuable information to retailers about where shoppers are spending the majority of their time and how long they’re waiting in line.

An ongoing trend

According to the Journal story, shoppers should not expect this high-tech snooping to stop anytime soon. The Journal story says that more retailers are installing monitoring technology. The Future of Privacy Forum, a think tank, claims that about 1,000 retailers have equipped their stores with tracking devices. And because this tech provides such useful information, don’t expect retailers to cut back on them in the near future.

Privacy issues

This tracking might help retailers. But shoppers aren’t always comfortable with it. The Journal story cited complaints made on social-media sites from Nordstrom shoppers who weren’t happy that they are being spied on. A Nordstrom spokesperson stated that the experiment was just a test. The manufacturers of tracking tech suggest that retailers post information telling shoppers they are being tracked.

Posted on: 01.24.14