Tracking Your Every Move as You Shop
Posted by Angie Myers
In Superconnected, Mary Chayko discusses how the internet has revolutionized the retail industry. She mentions Amazon’s efforts to make online grocery shopping successful.
“The largest share of online revenue in the United States is generated in retail shopping, with Amazon the top vendor…Some businesses have not translated to e-commerce as well as others, but due to the large profits possible, innovations to them are being explored. For example, grocery shopping, which as of 2014 had not found major success online, seems to have a brighter future in e-commerce. Amazon is fronting the cost of an expensive delivery infrastructure, without which the business could not take off, and customers are getting used to the idea of buying fresh food online. It takes both a technological and a psychological shift for some businesses to succeed.” (p. 169)
It’s interesting to note that Amazon just opened a cashier-less grocery store in Chicago this week. This is the fourth Amazon Go store and the first outside of Seattle. It’s in the same building as Amazon’s Chicago office.Embed from Getty Images
Customers use their smartphones to scan an app on their way into the store. From there, hundreds of video cameras and infrared sensors in the ceiling track shoppers as they move around and pick up merchandise, which is monitored by weight sensors. Items are added to a virtual shopping cart as customers take them off the shelves.Embed from Getty Images
Chayko warns about data privacy in e-commerce, “…data mining and surveillance should be kept in mind. Consumers and companies alike should be aware of the implications of widespread sharing on people’s privacy and safety and of the (in)security of data in online spaces.”
An article in the Washington Post quotes Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University’s law school, saying it’s highly likely that Amazon Go collects more information than any other retailer setting today.
There’s also concern about the effect of cashier-less stores on jobs. Bloomberg reports that Amazon is considering opening up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores in the next three years. The Washington Post points out that being a cashier is America’s second-most common job according to federal data. About 3.5 million Americans are cashiers.
The Chicago Tribune reported that at the Amazon Go in Chicago there are several employees who answer questions, help customers download the app, find their receipt on the app, restock shelves, and check photo IDs of those buying alcohol.
I’m looking forward to visiting Amazon Go. As a tech enthusiast, I’m willing to give up some privacy for the convenience and novelty. And, now that I know there are cameras and sensors tracking my every move, I’ll be sure to be on my best behavior.
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