Depending on your perspective — as a retail business or as a shopper — there is good/bad news about the latest technological advances being used to track shopping behavior. There is now an incredible amount of in-depth information being gathered (unbeknownst to the consumer) about online shopping demograpics and behavior.
According to the lead story in the Sunday Business section of today’s New York Times, written by Natasha Singer: “Americans are obsessed with their scores. Credit scores, GPAs, SATs, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels — you name it. So here’s a new score to obsess about: the E-score, an online calculation that is assuming an increasingly important, and controversial, role in E-commerce. What’s your E-score? You’ll probably never know. That’s because they are largely invisible to the public. But they are highly valuable to companies that want — or in some cases, don’t want — you as their customer. Online consumer scores are calculated by a handful of startups, as well as a few financial services stalwarts, that specialize in the flourishing field of predictive consumer analytics. It’s true that credit scores have been around for decades. And direct marketing companies have long ranked consumers by their socioeconomic status. But E-scores go further. They can take into account facts like occupation, salary, and home value to spending on luxury goods or pet food, and do it all with algorithms that their creators say accurately predict spending.”
The photo below is the St. Cloud, Minnesota headquarters of eBureau. At that locale, computer software analyzes billions of consumer details each month.
Click the image for Singer’s detailed story.
Photo by Tim Gruber for the New York Times