Somebody’s watching you!

Stores in the US, tried tracking customer's movements within their area via smartphone's Wi-Fi signals. But more than 75% customers hate tracking in a shopping mall

In fall 2012, Nordstrom began testing technology that allowed the retailer to track customers’ movements within its store via their smartphones’ Wi-Fi signals. Devices throughout the store would pick up the unique code broadcast by a smartphone and track the phone’s location – and the person carrying it –as it moved throughout the store. Nordstrom hoped the technology would teach them more about their customers’ shopping habits. But in-store signs disclosing the tracking made shoppers wary, and Nordstrom ended the test in May 2013, in part because of excessive negative feedback from consumers.

The reaction to Nordstrom’s test is not unique. Customers hate in-store phone tracking. An OpinionLab study from March found that 77% of shoppers thought in-store tracking was unacceptable, and 81% did not trust stores to keep tracking data secure. Consumer opinions were similar across age-groups.

But retailers remain keen on in-store tracking, in part because they see tracking as a tool to gather more information about their customers so they can better target advertising to them – sci-fi advertising a la Minority Report made real.

Tracking 2.0

And so this year a second wave of somewhat less invasive tracking, that requires consumers to download an app before seeing location-based ads, is being introduced. Foodie magazine Epicurious announced that it is teaming with inMarket to track consumers in supermarkets in order to send them coupons for discounts on recipe ingredients via an app. And Major League Baseball this season is using Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, to test its own phone tracking system to push ads for discounts when fans wander near the team store, among other things. But both Epicurious and MLB’s tracking would require consumers to have installed an app in order for the companies to contact the phones with deals – a kind of soft opt-in.

Yet the technology remains for advertisers to track all smartphones in-store, and it’s quietly being installed in more places. InMarket, which makes in-store Bluetooth beacons, claims to have access to 20 million shoppers already. And many stores don’t make clear whether they’re tracking you. This has Maryland considering a bill that would require stores tracking phones to post signs at all entrances to disclose the practice.

How you are tracked

Here’s how tracking works: All Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled devices have a MAC address, a 12-digit code that distinguishes, say, one iPhone from another iPhone or one laptop from another on the same Wi-Fi Network. When your device is looking for or is connected to a Wi-Fi or a Bluetooth hotspot, it broadcasts its MAC address. A retailer, by keeping track of the MAC addresses that are picked up by in-store hotspots, can see where a device goes in a store, how long it spends in a location — like how long a device is in the shoe section — and whether the same device returns to the same retail location or shows up at a different location for the same retailer.

And while a MAC address contains no personal information, it is possible for a retailer to cross-reference the address and thus put a phone number or email address to a device. So a store could pick up your phone’s Wi-Fi signal, cross-reference it to the email address you used to access the in-store Wi-Fi, and hit you with a marketing email for the shoes you’re looking at just now.

The tracking is not limited to customers who enter the store. Hotspots don’t know to halt tracking at the entrance, so a strong Wi-Fi signal from a department store could be tracking phones that pass on the sidewalk each day, or the laptops of the office workers at a different company upstairs. A store could be gathering information on your device without you ever setting foot inside.

Consumer options

Some companies who provide tracking technology, such as Nomi, allow consumers to opt-out of their tracking by entering their MAC addresses. And Smart Store Privacy, an arm of the Future of Privacy Forum, has an opt-out service in Beta testing that covers a handful of tracking companies. But not all companies offer opt-out services, and not all tracking companies have agreed to pay attention to the opt-out requests. Many stores are not upfront about whether they’re tracking smartphones, meaning many consumers don’t know who or what is watching them. Never mind that it’s hard to opt-out of tracking that you don’t know is happening.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D- New York, asked the FTC last June to require an opt-out opportunity before stores can track shoppers’ in-store movements. The FTC has indicated that it is monitoring the rise of in-store tracking, but has yet to take any action.

So, the best option for consumers who don’t want to be tracked at all is to turn off their phone’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth before entering a store. Or just leave the phone at home. Otherwise, be aware: Someone may be tracking your phone, and they probably want to show you an ad.



Monsoon likely to be just below normal, says IMD

India is likely to experience below-average monsoon rainfall during 2014, if the El Nino weather pattern affects the four-month-long rainy season, says IMD

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), in its first official forecast on Thursday, has said that the Southwest monsoon rainfall this year is likely to be just below normal.


In a statement, the Met Deparment said, "The experimental ensemble forecast based on IMD SFM indicates that the rainfall during the 2014 monsoon season between June to September averaged over the country as a whole is likely to be 88% ± 5% of long period average (LPA)."


The probability of emergence of El Nino phenomenon, the warming sea surface temperatures in the Pacific that can trigger drought in countries including India, during the four month monsoon period are around 60%, IMD added.


"Quantitatively," it said, "the monsoon rainfall during the four month period June-September is likely to be 95% of LPA."


IMD’s forecast comes with an error margin of 5%. LPA is the average of seasonal rainfall over the country as a whole from 1951 to 2000 estimated at 89 cm.


The 5 category probability forecasts for the Seasonal (June to September) rainfall over the country as a whole is given below:

The weather body, however, did not issue any region-wise forecast for the monsoon rains. Normal monsoon is categorised as rainfall between 96 and 104% of the 50 year average.


Lesser than normal precipitation can trigger drought and impact agricultural output thereby resulting in lower economic growth and could spike inflation. A good monsoon is crucial for crops like rice and sugarcane as about two-third of the farm lands are rainfed.


Last week, Pune-based chief Monsoon forecaster of IMD, Shivanand Pai has cautioned that a weak El Nino weather pattern can trigger a drought in India around July. (


El Nino refers to a warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every three to five years that lasts for about 18 months.


India experienced drought conditions in 1997 and 2009 when El Nino weather pattern was observed. Yet, a moderate El Nino in 2002 resulted in one of the worst droughts in India, in the past 100 years!


Pai's caution is supported by the Australian Meteorological Bureau who have stated that there are 70% chance for El Nino to occur, while the US Climate Prediction Centre feels that it has 50% chances. Either way, if El Nino occurs, Indian agriculture output can be in trouble.


The El Nino conditions in the equatorial Pacific continues to be neutral. “However, the sub-surface temperatures in the tropical pacific have warmed to the levels generally observed prior to an El Nino event. Latest forecast from a majority of the models also indicate warming trend in sea surface temperatures over the equatorial Pacific reaching to El Nino level during the southwest monsoon season with a probability of around 60%,” IMD added.


In addition, IMD said it is also carefully monitoring the sea surface conditions over the Pacific and the Indian Oceans that have a strong influence on the monsoon.


Supreme Industries Q3 net profit down 23% to Rs58.34 crore

Supreme Industries' March quarter net profit fell to Rs58.34 crore on higher costs and sluggish industrial demand

Supreme Industries Ltd, a leading plastics player in the country, reported a 23% lower third quarter net profit on sluggish demand and increase in costs.

For the quarter to end-March, Supreme Industries said its consolidated net profit fell 23% to Rs58.34 crore from Rs75.83 crore while its total revenues, including sales, increased 9.54% to Rs1,005.23 crore from Rs917.68 crore, same period last year.

“Continuing slowdown in industrial and material handling product segment coupled with hailstorm and unseasonal rains during February and March in many parts of the country adversely affected overall demand. The company envisages annual growth in product volume around 6% and product turnover between 16% to 18% during the current year over previous year, ” the company said in a regulatory filing.

During the March quarter, Supreme Industries sold 72,339 MT of plastic goods worth Rs957.69 crore, an increase of 9% compared with a year ago period. It achieved 3% volume growth and 9% product value growth during March quarter.

Supreme Industries said it consumed raw material worth Rs709.11 crore, 19.33% higher than  Rs594.25 crore, a year ago period.

“Raw material prices remained at elevated level during the current year. Increase in raw material prices have been absorbed by the respective products albeit with a lag due to sluggish business environment,” the  company in its filing.

Supreme Industries closed Wednesday marginally down at Rs481 on the BSE, while the S&P BSE Sensex ended the day flat at 22,876.

For more stock results, check out this page


We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)