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Smartphone Users Really Don't Want Stores Stalking Them

Privacy concerns hold shoppers back from opting in to mobile in-store tracking

Seriously, smartphone users aren’t fans of in-store tracking. In an April 2014 study by PunchTab, just 27% of US smartphone owners said they would allow mobile in-store tracking in order to receive relevant, real-time information and offers. In comparison, 50% were not open to mobile tracking, and 24% didn’t have strong feelings either way.

Respondents weren’t holding off on allowing in-store tracking due to concerns around messaging itself. Instead, the biggest worry was around privacy, cited by 51%. Meanwhile, just 13% wouldn’t sign up to receive benefits via mobile tracking because of concerns around too many messages, 12% werent interested because of intrustiveness, and 8% were worried about receiving irrelevent messages.

According to respondents, the most acceptable ways for retailers to use in-store tracking were related to—surprise, surprise—price, with nearly nine in 10 citing receiving coupons and special offers as OK reasons. Smartphone users also showed high interest in getting alerts when products they were interested in went on sale. Convenience played a role, too, with shorter checkout times a top draw.

Considering that April 2014 research by CFI Group found that price-related activities were the top reasons for mobile shopping app usage while in brick-and-mortars, if retailers can ease privacy concerns, they stand a good chance at driving higher mobile in-store tracking opt-in rates. Nearly half of respondents used apps in-store to check other retailer prices—an issue that retailers could combat if they knew when and where to serve relevant, real-time info and offers. Fully 45% of respondents said they used apps for coupons and discount offers, and 38% accessed them to manage coupons.

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