Daily Dose of iQ: "Can retailers spy on us responsibly?"

Aug 13, 2013 — Allan Pulga

The recent NSA security scandal and news of retailers tracking customers in-store has put consumer privacy under the microscope.

Thus, Teresa Novellino of Upstart Business Journal yesterday (Aug. 12) wrote an article asking, "Can retailers spy on us responsibly?"

Novellino goes on to describe an Austin-based startup, UnboundID, which helps companies manage vast amounts of consumer data in order to allow customers to choose which data they are comfortable disclosing to retailers.

"With the technology that UnboundID is offering, a customer who enables a store’s loyalty app, for instance, could be greeted upon arrival at the store, and the salesperson could immediately know what type of merchandise the customer often looks for," Novellino wrote.

UnboundID helps retailers obtain data willfully shared by consumers, and tailor customer experiences/service according to that data.

"If you opt in for an app for with a hotel chain that you stay at frequently, your smartphone could, for example, alert the hotel that you’ve arrived in the destination, check you in, and make sure your room is at your preferred temperature setting so that you don’t have to fiddle with unfamiliar controls when you get to the room."

This is something we've discussed in previous blog posts and my conclusion remains the same: Retailers either need to be:

  • a) stealthy (or keep shoppers' identities anonymous in a transparent system) about their tracking or
  • b) "up-front" about it -- getting shoppers to opt-in to certain types of data capture via branded apps, loyalty integrations (e.g. Passbook) and the like.

UnboundID appears to be making the latter recommendation.

Topics: Privacy, Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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