Businesses have responded to an increase in mobile devices by increasing the amount of targeted marketing that they conduct. Consumers can now be tracked on the go. Both companies and consumers seem to be latching onto new technologies that offer buyers a better buying experience and offer retailers the ability to more efficiently track customers and their purchases. There are certainly technologies in use online that allow businesses to track your web habits and the links that you click, but recent efforts have been made to track consumers while they shop, right inside the stores.
One effective use of these technologies is the actual tracking of the route consumers take through your store. Some are extensive enough to include out of store routes and habits, ideally with the consent of the consumer using a specific phone application. Companies will get buy-in from consumers by offering them some type of deal on merchandise or services in exchange for agreeing to have their shopping habits tracked. Check out these examples of tracking apps:
- Shopkick – Retailers the likes of JCPenney, Target, Macy’s and Old Navy have utilized Shopkick to help gain insight into their target market’s shopping habits. This app showcases products that buyers are seeking and helps stores to track buying habits. Check out the Shopkick website to learn more.
- Snappette – This app allows retailers to design a profile and then send out offers to buyers that subscribe. It’s a great way for retailers to track online buying habits. Visit the Snapette website to learn more.
These new technologies have recently been raising concern for companies and consumers alike. The technology is there, but the processing is still under construction. There does not seem to be a clear consensus on the overall value of consumer tracking for stores. As with any relatively new technology, a certain level of risk needs to be taken by investing in a largely unproven technology.
On the other side of the ball, consumers worry about their privacy. Is their information secure? Does the tracking stop when they are done shopping? Privacy has been a huge issue in the digital realm as of late, and buyers are leery of the potential breaches that might arise with the advent of increased tracking.
To combat the potential pitfalls, builders of these types of technologies are working hard to perfect their tools. Marketing and tracking via these tools will continue to improve and help businesses to know their audience and push out marketing materials to them more efficiently. With the ability to target individuals with content that is meant specifically for their tastes, digital marketing will expand its potential exponentially.
And as for consumers, the ability to opt out of extensive tracking will likely be an option. Consumers can choose not to download or connect to a company’s application. However, if they want to download the option to receive the benefits, but don’t want to be tracked, they can always opt out of tracking. If stores don’t give an opt out option, though, it’s likely that consumers will find somewhere else to shop.
While companies might have profit goals, and think in more general terms, why not take advantage and embrace an upcoming, more personalized, approach to shopping? Let us know your thoughts. Do you think it’s right to track shoppers or is it an invasion of privacy?
Taylor Crouch – Marketing Assistant