Wi-fi tracking versus Privacy


I’m going to write about my thoughts of wifi-tracking technology in stores. The wifi-tracking technology allows the retail managers to see how many people visit their store. Stores are now able to track mobile devices. These devices constantly are searching for a wifi-connection. While searching for this connection, the devices send MAC-addresses (each MAC-address is linked to a specific customer and has a specific 12-digit code that helps routers to send data to the right recipient) out which are being host by the tracking hardware.

This technology has great benefits as it enables managers to measure customer loyalty. It is even possible to measure their walking routes through navigation functionalities and how long they stop at a certain product. They can also see how many employees they need to schedule. This technology enables managers to make better purchase, marketing and inventory planning decisions. Due to this technology, it is now possible to follow their customers just like how websites can. In the past managers decided how to organize the layout of a store based on their intuition, which didn’t work efficiently. They simply didn’t know how to bring along the customer behavior with the layout of a specific store. Wifi-tracking eliminates this problem. This technology is also being used at retailers and restaurants at airports.

However, this technology doesn’t follow legal privacy regulations. Companies like Dixons, Mycom, iCentre use this technology. The first three companies don’t inform customers that they are being followed. Besides, some unknown companies use this technology in secret. I think that it is not acceptable to follow customers if they are not informed. Even worse, I think that this technology has to be abandoned since the admission to follow customers will create the potential of a world with no privacy in the future. Stores are then even able to measure customer behavior of individuals instead of the mass. This technology creates a threat for companies as they can result in a decrease of customer satisfaction and loyalty which unfortunately will lead to a lower profitability. Thus, wifi-tracking has a negative impact on companies.

Bachmann, J. (2014), ‘To speed up security lines, airports start tracking your smartphone’, http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-06-12/to-speed-up-security-lines-airports-start-tracking-your-smartphone

Fung, B. (2013) ‘How stores use your phone’s Wifi to track your shopping habits’, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/10/19/how-stores-use-your-phones-wifi-to-track-your-shopping-habits/

Henry, A (2013)’How retail stores track you using your smartphone (and how to stop it)’, http://lifehacker.com/how-retail-stores-track-you-using-your-smartphone-and-827512308

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One response to “Wi-fi tracking versus Privacy”

  1. 335595rm says :

    I think this subject is rather controversial. I believe that the first thing to come to our minds when we hear wi-fi tracking is privacy. Although I’m not pleased with being tracked withouth being informed, I can’t oppose to the idea that companies track (potential) customers in THEIR stores. Moreover, let’s take a look at the most prominent mission of wi-fi tracking. Wi-fi tracking’s main goal is to understand customers behaviour. Companies try to adjust their stores to ultimately generate additional revenue (logically), but also to enhance the customers experience.

    I know this will be an ungoing discussion, but try to look at it from the business side as well and take the benefits for us, the customers, in consideration before making an final judgement..

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