Best Buy to Combine Web and Store Data

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Jun 04, 2002
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According to a Wall Street Journal report, Best Buy Co. plans to combine the customer data it collects from users of its Web site with the information it gathers from customers in its stores. Changes to the company’s privacy policy allow customers to block the data merger if they “opt-out” on the Web site by July 3. Changes to the policy also state that the electronics retailer may share the information it collects from online customer surveys with third parties.

Privacy advocates have objected to past plans by marketers to combine online and offline data. Two years ago, online-advertising firm DoubleClick Inc. scrapped a similar plan after privacy groups complained to the Federal Trade Commission. Advocates feared that such a database would infringe on consumer privacy by matching names with online behavior.

Also, the “opt out” requirement places the burden upon the customer, according to Stephen Keating, executive director of the Denver-based Privacy Foundation. Instead, companies should allow customers to “opt in” to marketing programs, Mr. Keating says, adding that marketers don’t like to use “opt-in” programs because they get low response rates.

Web portal Yahoo Inc. has been criticized in recent months for requiring its users to opt out of receiving marketing materials. Yahoo announced changes to its privacy policy in March.

Moderator Comment: Should multi-channel retailers integrate offline and online consumer data?

Let’s give Orwell a rest. It is 2002 not 1984.

Consumers that use the online and offline options available
to them at a given retailer do not make a distinction between the properties.
Gap.com is the same as Gap stores if you shop both. They just have different
means of entry. Sharing data between online and offline will serve to benefit
the consumer by giving retailers information to make business decisions. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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