business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that Meijer is outfitting the shopping carts in one of its stores, near Kalamazoo, Michigan, with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags that it will use to track how much time people are standing in the various areas of the store.

Meijer says that the technology is being used to find ways to speed up service in various departments, including the front end.

According to the story, “the information will not be used to track customer buying habits or control inventory.” There also are no plans to test the system at other Meijer stores, the company says.
KC's View:
While we understand that there might be some privacy concerns raised by certain elements of the community, we can’t imagine why Meijer would use RFID tags on shopping carts and not track buying habits or use them to control inventory.

It’s absurd.

Then again, that’s the point we’ve gotten to. One privacy advocate tells the AP that he was concerned that Meijer didn’t have a sign up saying that some carts were equipped with RFID, and didn’t offer a choice of carts not having tags. (He apparently used a shopping basket because they don’t have tags.)

Our feeling is that if the supermarket (or any retailer, for that matter) can use technology to help us get through the store and checkouts more efficiently, find out where there might be glitches in the traffic flow, and make sure that the store has the merchandise in-stock that is relevant to our lives…well, that seems like a pretty good deal.

After all, we’re using credit cards and debit cards to pay for almost all our purchases, EZPass when we go on highways, and our passport to cross national borders. So it’s not like we’re wandering around the world anonymous and unnoticed.