Last week, I wrote about how some stores were exploring the idea of placing cameras in store shelves in order to surveil shopping habits. Today, I read that the practice of tracking smartphone wi-fi signals is becoming more prevalent. You might want to switch your phone off while shopping.
This Washington Post article explains that mobile analytics companies are gathering a great deal of information from "watching" shoppers navigate a store. Did they go near the special deals section? Did they even get to the cash register? How much time did they spend in the store? Many, many questions. As with the shelf tracking cameras, these are just more attempts to track behavior and improve marketing. But without an incentive for consumers, it's pretty much a loss to them in terms of privacy.
Do Not Wi Fi Me!
There's hope. A sort of "Do Not Call Registry" for mobile devices identification numbers is being built. Theoretically, one would register their Media Access Control (MAC) address and it would signify that you don't want this info shared while you are in a store. We'll see. In the mean time, turning off wi-fi altogether while shopping means that you won't be able to get real-time price comparison from such apps as Red Laser. That app allows one to "scan" the barcode on their phone and look up prices. More useful for comparing larger items, but I wouldn't be surprised if fruit has a barcode one day.
It also means that the Facebook, Four Square, or other "check-in" site obsessed won't be able to tell their 500 friends that they are at Starbucks. That might not be so bad....
Yesterday, I wrote that I was in need of a new modem and that I'd try out LivingSocial's coupon code search for any deals at Best Buy. After hunting, nothing turned up. But, after using Shopzilla to compare prices, I did find that Amazon did have the same modem for $25 less. Boom! Since I needed the modem right away, I went back to the Best Buy site and saw it had a "Lowest Price Guarantee" blurb next to the price. I just had to make sure it was an "approved" competitor. In this case, Amazon was one of them.
Low prices guaranteed
After reading the fine print, I called up Best Buy and mentioned that I'd seen a lower price on Amazon for the same modem. The rep looked it up and sure enough said that it qualified. He tried to place an order for me, but since I wanted it yesterday, I asked if I could just show the ad at the store. "Sure," he said. So, I printed off the web page, went to Best Buy, found the modem, and showed the cashier the ad. She looked over it carefully, meticulously comparing the specs, brand, etc. etc. "Yep, that works." Score! She immediately took $25 off the price and I left the store a happy customer.
Best Buy is not the only retailer to offer this type of price protection,Walmart, Office Depot, Lowe's, Home Depot and others do, too. Check before you buy. Now, since those are larger retail outlets, your mom and pop store may not be as flexible with haggling. If this fails, you can also try your credit card. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express all have some sort of "low price protection" coverage. You just have to remember to keep looking for the lower price after buying with sites such as Camel Camel Camel (no, I am not joking.)
Let me know if you have ever used a low price guarantee.
This morning, my inbox had an email from LivingSocial promoting a new coupon code searching function. Similar to RetailMeNot, perform a simple search, say for Gap, and then a list of available coupon codes comes up. I am guessing that LivingSocial is looking for another revenue source via referrals, much how many shopping comparison sites work. Here's a screen shot.
LivingSocial Coupon Search
The next time I need to buy something, which will probably be today since my modem is crapping out, I will compare coupons found on this site to see if there are any unique savings opportunities.
I love infographics and believe our short attention-span society will continue to embrace them for the information they pack in bite-size amounts. Today, I browsed this graphic from Visual.ly which depicts how mobile and electronic coupons are really taking over and fueling coupons' increased usage. What I was still surprised at though was how little the redemption rate is, 10%. Print coupons, 1%. For print, I totally get it. It's a still a pain to hunt, clip, sort, and bring in your coupons. For digital? There are few excuses beyond not having ready access to a computer or smartphone that I can see being a barrier. Besides, there are many strategies which I have mentioned before and will show again on how you can "stack" savings using digital coupon codes. They are simply awesome.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.