As labour costs increase, companies are finding innovative ways to replace them with automation. McDonalds has automated cashiers where you can place an order and pay, Amazon has their store where you simply walk in with your Amazon app while it monitors everything in your cart as you walk out of the store and charges your account. No line no hassle. Walmart is toying with a similar idea with their most recent partnership with Microsoft. The idea is certainly appealing for anyone who is not a cashier, stores save on labour and customers are spared the long line ups at the grocery store, but what many consumers will not realize is that labour savings is not the only benefit these businesses will reap. They will get to know everything about you.
It is true many of us already have this type of relationship with certain businesses. We sign up for rewards programs, we follow their Facebook pages and sometimes fill out surveys if we can get rewarded for doing so. This however will take it to a whole new level. As the stores learn about the things you buy they can alert you of sales that might interest you, make recommendations based on similar purchases, or even alert you if your shopping cart does not contain an item you regularly purchase, a friendly reminder in case you forgot.
While the technology may be far from wide adaptation, once in place it would take little time to adopt the proper algorithms that take advantage of this information as this practice is far from new. For those who are already accustomed to online shopping this will be nothing new as online sites like Amazon already track your search history and purchases to make recommendations. Even sending you advertisements on different websites showing you related products.
Of course, many people do not seem to mind this online and services like ad blockers can limit your experience with this type of intrusiveness but it would be interesting to see how we will react once this type of practice affects us in the real world.