Shopper mining, a scam to avoid

Online shopping is commonplace amongst many who are juggling children, with persons facing mobility challenges or those just trying to conserve time and travel. Contrary to this trend, is the rising number of consumers who don’t trust the internet to make a purchase. Still, adding to their fears are on-line retailers who engage in secret marketing tactics.

What kinds of obscure tactics are online retailers using today? Well, many employ data mining techniques. For example, computer programs are designed to search or mine online text for a host of words that commonly denote opinions or sentiments like “love it” “great “or “bad”, expressing an opinion or phrases such as “a waste of money” or “don’t buy”, expressions of sentiment. Data of this sort is tracked in on-line customer reviews, forums, blogs, social media websites and other documents.

The information gathered might contain an online shoppers previous purchasing history and used to target future customer pricing or may assist retailers who overprice products at launch and then lower prices when there is negative product feedback. Also worth mentioning is that consumer mining programs have been used to combat malicious acts. An example of this is Amazon who recently discovered that a product brand maker paid people to write several positive customer reviews on their website.

Amazon then had the fake customer reviews removed. Consumers should also be aware that those with the financial resources such as reputable businesses, scammers or criminal enterprises can conduct mining searches to access your online personal shopping history, or your vulnerable personal information. As privacy laws vary from one province, state or country, combating privacy violations in shopper mining can be difficult and as a consequence gives way to a dilemma that continues to discourage many from making on-line purchases.

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