Smart Phone ShoppingA survey conducted last month published on Adweek helped cement the fact that customers generally do not want companies tracking them via their own smartphone.

While about 60% of survey takers responded that tracking would be acceptable if there was an opt-in/opt-out consensual form, about a quarter of all participants still responded that companies should not track customers at all.

What is tracking? Today it could mean keeping detailed information on your movements around the store and the time you spent in certain departments; it could mean using your shopping history to suggest future purchases; tracking could also sense close proximity to a retail location and offer a special promotion to a passing-by customer. But in the coming months and years, customer tracking and the information pulled from it will be unprecedented and perhaps beyond imagination.

Because of recent security breaches in large retailers such as Target, it is understandable why customers are hesitant to be tracked. In recent cases, it has been mainly credit card information that was compromised. But what if a store had much more personal data about customers? How far could a hacker or cybercriminal take it if they had access to all your personal information? The potential for identity theft and other crime would be dangerously high.

QR codes offer happy medium

In the case that customers do not want to be tracked, QR codes offer a unique solution.  QR codes, the traditionally black-and-white squares that are scannable with a smartphone, can help both retailers and consumers.

QR codes generally take consumers to web pages that provide additional product, category, or company information. This information is available at the demand of consumers – if the consumer does not want it, they do not need to scan the codes. But, if the customer does need some additional information or assistance, the codes are there to be scanned and consumed.

This can be a large help to retailers, especially those that are relatively short-staffed compared to customer volume. QR codes provide information that can help customers make purchase decisions, particularly when sales staff is not around to assist. Furthermore, the retailers can track the number of scans of each code, gaining information about a variety of items such as product interest or staffing issues.

Consumers shouldn’t worry though – very little personal information is recorded when scanning a QR code, and is often limited to the name of your mobile service provider.

Audible Tags

Even QR codes are evolving – new technology known as the Audible Tag takes codes to a new level. Instead of a regular landing page mixed with textual or video information, Audible Tags focus on providing up to 40 seconds of audio information.

While video is great for many occasions, in this case, audio may be more practical. Rather than take a customer’s eyes off of the product, Audible Tags allow consumers to hear additional information or promotion while keeping the product in their hand or in front of them.

And like other QR codes, Audible Tags do not track the personal information that consumers are so weary to divulge.

What do you think? Is it acceptable for companies to track you through your phone? Feel free to leave comments here or chat with us via social, @antvibes,

Photo Credit: