Controlling (and predicting) everything you buy in a store thanks to Big Data

Each time we can control more precisely not only what we buy, but how long it remains in our hands, when we consider acquiring it or not, and if it finally ends up in the shopping cart or again on the shelf.

The mall NordstromFor example, it has recently started keeping track of its customers through the Wi-Fi signals and MAC addresses of their smartphones when they shop at their stores. Walmart, meanwhile, has managed to deduce trends such as, when the arrival of a tornado is announced, people buy more flashlights and more pop-tarts, very caloric pastries that can be cooked in the toaster.


Most electronic devices, books and other products have a small square of paper with a printed antenna. It is an RFID chip, which can even be sewn into clothing. The Burberry luxury clothing chain, for example, incorporates them to "improve the consumer experience."

They contain antennas to allow them to receive and respond to requests by radiofrequency from an RFID transmitter-receiver. One of the advantages of the use of radiofrequency (instead, for example, of infrared) is that direct vision between transmitter and receiver is not required.

He fundamental purpose of RFID technology is to convey the identity of an object (similar to a unique serial number) using radio waves, but it can also be tracked much more precisely than inventory control. And every time there are more systems to do it, as it abounds in it Thomas P. Keenan in his book Tecnosiniestro:

Two large shopping centers, the Promenade Temecula in California and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond (Vancouver), recently announced that they were going to install a tracking system called FootPath that would allow them to electronically tag their customers as they moved through the stores .

These systems allow to know better the consumption habits of the client. For example, it has been discovered that less than 40% of the public that visits an Apple store then goes to another renter of the mall. Instead, the bulk of these customers seem to return directly home with their new electronic devices.

Even Disneyland follows its customers using bracelets called MagicBands, devices equipped with RFID that allow you to keep track of all the theme park's customers. As he explains Marc Goodman in his book The crimes of the future:

The objective is to use the massive data so that you enjoy (and spend) to the fullest during your stay in the Magic Kingdom. And after Disney, others are likely to come and that these human tracking technologies are also deployed in casinos, resorts and even airports in the future.

Cataloging the clientele and the human being

Keep talking Keenan in Tecnosiniestro:

The bars of several cities have installed cameras that discreetly observe their clientele and try to draw conclusions from their physical features. Armed with the free application for SceneTap smartphones, owners can check the influx of their premises (from "desert" to "crowded"), as well as the average age of parishioners and the percentages of men and women.

In June 2013, a disturbing experiment was carried out in London regarding these buyer tracking systems. The advertising agency Renew London hid sensors in bins that identified the unique signature of all the mobiles that passed by nearby. In this way, with amazing precision, you could know the movement, speed and direction of people, knowing in real time the moments of maximum public influx in the most frequented places in the city of London.

Our privacy will be increasingly exposed in order to know our customs, tastes, preferences and weaknesses. And we will all be willing to do so because we need to carry a smartphone and be connected with others, and with everything around us. Whether this ends up being for better or worse depends on the regulations that must be imposed. Or maybe not. We are still facing a scenario too new to know what will happen.

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