The do-it-yourself furniture guys are going it alone

​Whilst  Amazon, Target and Walmart continue to insist on 'enriching your shopping experience' by using your personal data with, at best, your  vaguely tacit approval, we take our hats off to the independently minded Swedish furniture makers & retailers, IKEA, for their stance on this practice,

Basically, from now on you will no longer be  hounded by them to purchase every single item in which you have ever  shown an interest online as IKEA has announced a wholesale reform of its  data collection practices that will result in shoppers being able to shop in peace and privacy, in a manner of speaking.

IKEA will  give consumers wide sweeping new controls over the way it collects and  uses data from them across various digital platforms, stating that  consumers do not trust nor understand most companies' intentions with  regard to their data.

IKEA says that in the very near future:

IKEA customers will be able to decide whether the company can use their  on-site browsing history and past purchases to inform targeted ads and  product recommendations on IKEA's app.

IKEA will post messages throughout its website reminding customers to edit their data preferences.

And that by as early as the end of April, data controls will arrive on IKEA's app in several European countries and the U.S.

This initiative is designed to allow customers to decide if the company can use information like their browsing history, previous purchases and product preferences to generate product recommendations in its app and on its website.

We are doing this because we believe it's the right thing to do and  we believe it makes business sense to respect people's data
by Barbara Martin Coppola, chief digital officer at the largest US IKEA franchise operator

Consumers will also be able to use an incognito browsing mode,  tell IKEA how long it can keep their data, and easily delete it from  IKEA's records, according to the company.

Other major  retailers have attempted to provide privacy options but often locate  them in difficult to reach locations on their site or sign-in screens as  well as lost in the screeds of their privacy policies and terms &  conditions...the wastelands of peoples dispair & hope where it is  simply easier to say yes than wade through and lose the will to live  (shop)!

And yet other companies have tried to make privacy a  selling point, especially amongst younger consumers. And could this  actually be the real intent behind IKEA's moves?

This seems like a purpose-based move to try and set IKEA apart  from the pack by appealing to the emotional side of the millennial  consumer equation
by George Manas, President of OMD USA

And the 'opting out of the data collection' opportunity won't affect IKEA in the same way that it would affect the likes of an Amazon, a Target or a Walmart for instance which all have built big businesses selling ads. Ads that are frequently targeted in part using data about  the companies' shoppers, although the companies say they don't share/sell data directly to potential advertisers.

Clearly IKEA has little to lose in terms of bottom-line revenue given that they're not offering an ad-driven business that requires data  to operate
by George Manas, President of OMD USA

IKEA's move may well draw some privacy-conscious shoppers away from the competition.

Meanwhile,  that very competiton including Target, Walmart and Amazon aren't  backing down from using your data to personalize 'your shopping  experience' reports Nat Ives in a January 30th piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Target provides numerous data choices for consumers in a privacy policy  that is about 5,000 words long. When opting out of 'interest-based ads' the user is required to click a link that takes them to another site completely.

When we know more about our guests, we can provide them with  customized offers and make their shopping experience easier and more  convenient, Additionally, we invest significantly in our teams,  technology, training and partnerships to ensure our guests' information  is secure every time they engage with Target. Guests can find more  information in Target's privacy policy, including options to opt out of  having their information shared for marketing purposes.
by a Target spokesperson

More than a little 'reading between the lines' required there, we suspect!

Amazon's privacy policy allows consumers to avoid 'interest-based ads'  altogether by use of 'Ads link' on each page and through their Privacy  Notice page. However, since Amazon now has access to other data via  smart speakers and doorbells (Ring) it can also use all of that data to  make further decisions about how we shop.

Walmart's privacy  policy includes links to opt out of the ad networks it works with to  display personalized ads, a spokesman said.

Our entire business is built on customer trust, and when it comes  to customers' information, our focus is using it in ways to benefit them
by a Walmart spokesperson

And 'using that information in ways to benefit them' also  includes piloting a grocery delivery service which involves it sending  an associate into your home to stock your fridge for you - which sounds  about as intrusive and frankly scary as it gets!

All the  companies also offer California residents a chance to click "Do Not Sell  My Personal Information," per the requirements of the California  Consumer Privacy Act.

For more information on the EU's General  Data Protection Regulation and its implementation, check out this recent piece

Cookie free since 2020?
When, in May 2018, the European Union (EU) introduced the General DataProtection Regulation (GDPR)[] with the express intention of enforcing strict rules regarding the gaining theconsent of internet users for the col…

And our final few chilling words are reserved for Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute

The places we shop track us in stores and online and use those troves of data to get us to spend more money. I think it would be wise if everyone stopped thinking of retailers as retailers and started thinking of them as tech companies

​'It's all meatballs!' as our iconic Scandinavian self assembly furniture making friends might say!

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