Does your supermarket see your photos?

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We all know we’re being spied on, but we’re not sure when and to what extent. Can people access your location and your personal data while you walk the streets?

Online shopping may seem to be taking over the world and that it’s all traceable. Although 90% of retail business is still done offline, traditional retailers are worried about the speed and the success of companies which they, only a couple of years back, considered insignificant. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that every single traditional shopping executive is looking for an answer and that answer has to be digital.

Reality is that online portals know something traditional retailers don’t. They can track every single transaction and link it to an individual. The new guys on the block have get a the full profile of their customers, which gives the old guy (with a lot of cash) a clear disadvantage. This, very important building block, is what brought the new guys an unbelievable success.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the data collected and additional producs recommendations, is what made Amazon the company they are today. As the study noted, “Amazon reported that 30 percent of sales were due to its recommendation engine.”

To match that, offline retailers started implementing systems that could follow their customers behaviour. Some of them feel a bit more controversial than others. Here are some popular ways for retailers to check what you’re doing in the shop:


  • Track your movement around the shop: This was previously done through bluetooth and, if you switched your phone off, you we relatively incognito. These days however, wifi connectivity tends to be the preferred method. Most companies that provide these services swear blind that these data collected is not linked to individuals. All the other data is collected separately and analysed as a part of the bigger picture.
  • Camera face recognition, tracking and analysis: Face recognition software is pretty much mainstream these days. This, together with CCTV, means that it’s possible to know what types of people are visiting which space. Variables such as skin type, movement and style, can give a lot of data about the person’s life and occupation.
  • Social media apps and photos say a lot about a person’s location and movement. If you bring up your latest photo metadata you will see that it includes the exact latitude and longitude of where it was taken. This info can then be linked to a profile. It is biding it to a general profile, the retail can get a very good picture of not only who you are, but also where you move and what you take pictures of.





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