Retailers IP Address Tracking - How It Happens and How to Prevent It

Online shopping is one of the best conveniences today thanks to the internet. Instead of the traditional time consuming shopping for food and products, nearly everything is available online and could be purchased even at the comforts of home. Non-contact transactions even in delivery are also available and become the standard observed by many buyers due to the pandemic.

But convenience for online shopping comes with a cost - the loss of anonymity and privacy. Online shoppers and users who are not aware of privacy risks are going to be exposed to intrusive surveillance.

Tracking Shopping Preferences

One of the easiest methods employed by retailers in tracking their customers is on their purchase history and online activity. Those who sign-up for online shopping will naturally have to select items available online and retailers can use this data to learn more about their customers. After purchase, customers should expect recommendations related to the recent sales.

But sales tracking is just one of the tracking methods used by retailers, website activity, items on cart (even before shopping) and other online activities such as liked or shared items can be used by retailers to recommend related items to customers to increase sales. A customers' computer or a mobile phone contain a treasure trove of personal information that can be used by shopping sites to personalize their ads.

(Nearly) Intrusive Tracking

Each computer and mobile device come with an IP address. This simple data is often used to identify each user connected to the network and internet. It's very important information because it acts as an identifier to access the needed services.

Unfortunately, this simple piece of information can be used for tracking as well. Large websites such as Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Facebook or Bing use this information for their other online services. Travel history, search history and more are recorded and could be used for advertising purposes.

But it's not just the biggest online companies that end up using IP address tracking. Even small businesses use this data to track the movement of their customers - not just online but even in-store. According to ABC, retailers have taken full advantage of their ability to track users' movement so that they could update shoppers about the sale of a product based on their location. Aside from IP addresses, the use of Wifi and Bluetooth connections have allowed retailers to track their users.

How to Limit and Prevent Tracking

Fortunately, user privacy has been in the forefront nowadays and there are steps available that could help limit and even prevent tracking. It may require additional steps but those who are serious about privacy have options.

Online shopping and store points apps offer convenience in shopping, earning and monitoring points. But these apps usually ask for customer location in order to "tailor made" their user experience. This is where the notification of sales based on location starts because these apps are allowed access. As much as possible, remove these apps to prevent any form of tracking. In mobile phones, there is an option to prevent these apps from accessing users' location and other personal information.

Using a VPN or a Virtual Private Network is also a very good solution for personal privacy. A VPN could be installed in a computer or a mobile device and they provide security through encryption. When encrypted, the transactions within the device are no longer readable and even the location of the device is masked with a different IP address as chosen by the user.

Online shopping offers convenience to users at a cost of privacy. Before using the application, remove the permission for location access or set-up a VPN to prevent any type of tracking.

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