The Aisles Have Eyes | Joseph Turow

Summary of: The Aisles Have Eyes: How Retailers Track Your Shopping, Strip Your Privacy, and Define Your Power
By: Joseph Turow


Get ready to delve into the world of retail tracking and surveillance as we explore Joseph Turow’s ‘The Aisles Have Eyes.’ This insightful summary will reveal how retailers are tirelessly working to convince consumers that offering up personal information is essential for an increasingly personalized shopping experience. Discover the shift from traditional retail marketing wisdom that focused on equal treatment for all customers, to a new era where data mining and analysis are crucial for targeting niche markets and tailoring advertising to individual shoppers.

The Retail Industry’s Survival Tactic

Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores had to reinvent their business model to stay afloat in the early 21st century. Unable to compete with discounters like Walmart on price, they faced a new challenge from online retailers like Amazon who used customer data to personalize offerings. In response, stores had to start tracking and targeting customers in real life, which required intrusive levels of surveillance. Convincing customers to feel comfortable with this level of monitoring and data sharing was a significant hurdle for the industry. The retailing industry is working hard to normalize the concept of offering up personal information as a natural part of shopping.

Retail Marketing Evolution

The retail industry has made significant transformation since the mid-19th century, from haggling with no standardized pricing to introducing posted prices and building customer loyalty. Today, retailers use personal information provided by customers to enhance their shopping experience and offer personalized promotions. The combination of transparency and privilege creates a unique and satisfying customer experience, making them feel special.

Retailers’ Survival Tactics

In the 21st century, competing with Walmart on price became an impossible task for retailers. To stay afloat, retailers turned to targeting niche customers using data collection. Internet retailers like Amazon enjoyed an advantage in tracking shoppers, which pushed brick-and-mortar stores to mimic digital tracking. The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 opened the door to this power. Retailers now exploit what they know about specific individuals to create loyalty and sell products.

Cutting Edge Retail Tracking

Advanced technology allows retailers to track individual shoppers via their smartphones and offer personalized advertisements and assistance based on their movements within stores. Data companies such as ShopperTrak and Euclid utilize Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals to track shoppers’ movements, recording how long they stay in the store and directing clerks to the most trafficked areas. By linking with store apps, customers receive tailored ads and coupons while shopping, leading to improved shopping experiences and increased sales opportunities.

InMarket’s BLE Tactic

InMarket uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons installed in stores to detect their code in smartphone apps. They embed their code in retailers’ apps to include partnerships with other firms. This allows retailers and manufacturers to track consumer behavior and identify certain aspects of the person. The BLE technology can wake up retailer or partner apps to supply ads and track consumers to specific retail locations or anywhere else the retailer wants to follow or find potential customers.

The Rise of Geolocation Marketing

Smartphone manufacturers’ inclusion of GPS technology has led to the emergence of geolocation marketing. inMarket and xAd are geolocation companies that retailers use to send targeted ads to app-carrying smartphones. By tracking consumers’ locations, retailers can identify the most promising advertising targets and even target shoppers who enter a competitor’s store. With this technology, Walmart, for example, can pinpoint millennial moms who shop for specific products and send them enticing ads. The rise of geolocation marketing has allowed retailers to connect with customers in a more personalized way and make shopping experiences more convenient.

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