Oh good, we’re apparently on the way toward another privacy intrusion–data tracking shopping carts.
The next generation of shopping carts are designed to not only be ergonomically engineered, whatever that may mean, but also provide an interactive shopping experience by offering audible, personalized shopping suggestions while in the store and pushing the cart. These high-tech “item carriers” are equipped with internal computers, GPS systems, and some yet to be described digital devices stealthy built into the design.
These rolling computers can perform some data gathering functions that give retailers insight into the shopping habits of their customers such as:
1) tracking the actual speed/elapsed time in the store of an individual shopper
2) constantly calculating the duration of time it takes for a shopper to make a selection
3) tracking a shopper’s actual route in the store
4) evaluating the specific order in which a shopper places items in the cart
5) giving the shopper an option for swiping his or her store loyalty card on the cart’s handle scanner to receive instant, in-store, customized discounts–along with recording shopping data used for creating a personal profile
In effect, these high-tech shopping carts are going to:
1) allow store designers and layout personnel to place customer preferred inventory at the easiest to access locations based on constantly gathered, analyzed and acted upon consumer shopping data
2) provide retailers with an adjunct source of revenue–selling customers’ shopping information to other retailers and whomever might be willing to pay for it
3) target specific advertisements using timely shopping profiles and constantly tweaked shopping cart data
Of course, privacy issues should be addressed prior to these carts arriving in the stores, but there’s no guarantee about this aspect of the new technology. The data-devouring carts could be perceived as a convenience by shopper and retailers, or just the opposite could occur if the scenario prompts concern regarding the use of customers’ data. Either way, the personal privacy issue must be addressed and effectively handled. Otherwise, these high-tech data grabbers may not be around too long. Then again, the current generation of some cell phones has already begun to track every move of the owner/user.
Initially, I could have some fun with one of these data tracking carts. I’d load it with a bunch of items that are basically contradictory. For example, I would place 150 rolls of toilet paper in the cart along with a case of peanut butter and a 10 lb block of cheddar cheese. And then I’d add a few bags of prunes and some over the counter constipation medication found in the pharmacy section. That way the onboard computer wouldn’t know for sure if I had diarrhea or was already backed up.
Finally, there’s a potential technological marvel that I can use for fun without being concerned about whether or not it freezes up. And in my case, odds are it will…