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.
by a Target spokesperson
More than a little 'reading between the lines' required there, we suspect!
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 decentralize.today piece
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!