Store savings cards are being marketed to shoppers everywhere. There are benefits to having such a card in your possession. There are also concerns that have been raised about these cards.
The most obvious advantage that the store card offers is savings. You can get items at a lesser price compared to shoppers who do not have the card. You are also eligible for special promotions that the store may have. The savings is the most powerful and persuasive advantage that the card offers to its loyal shoppers.
One reason that has been floated for the stores to offer savings cards is to make the stores stock their shelves more efficiently with the products that their customers like. In short, the stores track your purchases.
This is a weak reason some privacy advocates assert. Stores can just as easily track purchases without needing the personal information that store saving cards provide. They can easily find out what items are selling and what items are languishing on the shelves.
Customized coupons at the cash register may change your mind. As the store tracks what you purchase, your preferences can be discovered and thus, have coupons created to suit them.
E-coupons are another reason for some to use loyalty cards. You can sign up, select e-coupons and download your choices to your loyalty card.
Automatic promotions are also available only to store cardholders.
However, are the incentives enough for you to get a card?
Some claim that there are no real savings to the card. The store simply jacks up the price and provides cardholders the discounted price, which should actually have been the standard retail price.
If you have the habit of keeping a unit price book, you will see how some supermarkets do this. This only illustrates how the regular, non-card bearing shopper can be browbeaten by pricing to get a card.
You are giving up your privacy when you use a loyalty card. Every purchase you make with the card is being tracked. Every purchase you make with the card leads to more information being profiled.
The information that a loyalty card can carry can be very valuable indeed to grocery manufacturers and suppliers. Consumers can be targeted with specific coupons, promotions, pricing schemes and products carried.
Essentially, grocery store cards allow your data to be mined. And did you know that information about your shopping habits can be obtained with a subpoena or warrant and used against you in court? Some stores even share their information with other companies. Armed with your information, companies can now either choose to target you as a potential client or refuse to let you become one of their clients.
Most people are aware that their shopping habits are being tracked at some level. However, only a few think about this fact when they are doing their shopping. It seems that privacy and personal information may be traded willingly by some people for a chance to obtain lower prices and better deals.
Expect more data mining, more potentially invasive measures from stores and manufacturers if this trend continues unabated.
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