Whether you’re shopping in brick-and-mortar stores or buying your goods online, one thing is for sure: while you may feel like yet another face in the crowd, to the retailer you’re shopping with, you’re anything but. In fact, long before you even make your way out the door, your favorite store has a wealth of surprising information on you that you might not expect.
From knowing about your work life to having a good idea what you’re like on social media, these 15 things retailers already know about you will shock even the most intrepid shopper. And for a lighter take on retail industry, check out the 30 Hilarious Tweets Every Retail Worker Can Relate To!
While the way you’re dressed may give retail workers some information about your income bracket, that’s not the only way they have your net worth figured out. “A lot of customers don’t realize that the type of credit card they use can tell a retailer a lot about them. For example, an American Express card member may have a higher income and spend more than a Visa user,” says Chris George, co-founder of subscription service Gentleman’s Box. And when you want to maximize your own income, check out the 50 Most Tax-Friendly Cities in America!
Think you have to introduce yourself to the cashier when you’re up at the register? Think again. According to Pablo Serrano Gómez, CMO of Buy Yourself, a software company that focuses on merchant data collection, many retailers already know your name by the time you go to pay. Your in-person payment history, online purchases, email list subscriptions, and online lists with your data that are purchasable by marketers with just a click of a button are all easy ways for your favorite store to find out your name—and a whole lot more. And when you want to know more about the origin of your own name, discover the 30 Best Literature-Inspired Baby Names!
Your Zip Code
Along with your name, retailers often retain information you’ve provided them, whether in person or when you had something shipped to you, like your zip code. Your digital payment information is intrinsically linked to a physical address, so when you hand over that card, retailers may be learning more about where you live than you initially anticipated. Furthermore, if you own property, that information is public record, meaning it can easily be bought and sold by marketers and retailers. And when you’re thinking of moving, this is The Best Way to Buy Real Estate!
Your Phone Number
Have you ever wondered why you keep getting those spam calls? It might be thanks to your favorite retailer. According to Serrano Gómez, your phone number is yet another piece of information your favorite retailer may already have on hand about you before you even set foot in a store. Your customer loyalty card or store credit card are attached to your phone number, meaning that any store you use them in already has a record of how to get ahold of you. If you want to keep some information private, start with the 13 Secrets You Should Always Keep From Your Partner.
Your Email Address
While you might not give out your email address to every person you meet, it’s still getting passed around from retailer to retailer on a pretty regular basis. Not only do stores owned by the same parent company company frequently share customer data (unless they’ve specifically promised not to do so), but also some companies will sell lists of this information to other companies for a profit.
But don’t fret: According to Serrano Gómez, it’s pretty easy to stop new businesses from accessing that information. “At any time, the client can exercise their right and ask to change or delete their information since this information is located in a database,” he says. And when you want to improve your digital game, make sure to avoid the 11 Worst Dating-App Message Mistakes Men Make!
Your Marital Status
Your wedding ring isn’t the only giveaway that you’re in a committed relationship. Your marital status is easily accessed by retailers, who can find that, and other demographic information about you through sales lists and online databases. Marriage licenses are also a matter of public record, meaning it’s easy for retailers and marketers to find out your marital status, often with little more than a few clicks. And when you’re ready to spice up your relationship, start with the 50 Best Marriage Tips of All Time!
Your Living Arrangements
However, it’s not just whether you’ve tied the knot that a retailer can discover about your household arrangement. In fact, according to Serrano Gómez, retailers likely already know how many people are living in your home, whether that includes roommates or family members. Property purchase records are easily looked up online, and using other easily-accessed data about you, including your name and zip code, it’s actually pretty easy for retailers to discover that you’re living in a two-bedroom with a roommate, or in a townhouse with your wife and kids.
You may be able to shave a few years off your age when you’re meeting strangers, but that trick won’t fly with retailers. Your demographic information is logged into databases that many retailers access on a regular basis—and yes, that includes your actual birthdate. Want to start hiding your age better? Cut the 40 Words That Will Instantly Reveal Your True Age from your vocab.
Your Education Level
You don’t have to wear your college sweatshirt into a store for retailers to know about your alma mater. That information is surprisingly easy to discover for retailers, according to Serrano Gómez. Unfortunately for graduates, many schools will sell alumni data to financial institutions and marketers for a profit. And if you go to a school that offers an alumni credit card, you can safely assume that at least some of your information is being bought and sold. Want to boost your brainpower? Start with these 15 Podcasts That Will Make You 15 Percent Smarter.
Your Car Brand
The dealership isn’t the only place that knows what kind of car you drive. According to Serrano Gómez, retailers also have a surprising amount of information about the kind of car you drive, and whether you lease it or own it. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System is a public database that can provide anyone—marketers and retailers included—with information on a car’s title, while with as little as a license plate number, a request for information can be filed about your vehicle. Looking for a new ride of your own? Check out The Best New Cars for 2018!
Your Favorite Color
While few people go around telling others their favorite color after elementary school, your favorite store might actually know that information about you. “Within a ZIP code, a merchant will know the age range and sex of their customers, and favorite colors segmented by kind of customer,” says Serrano Gómez.
Your Clothing Budget
Whether you’re a big spender or a penny pincher when it comes to your wardrobe, make no mistake: your favorite retailer already knows. Serrano Gómez admits that companies do have access to a wealth of information about your spending habits, including how much you’re likely to drop on a suit or new pair of shoes.
Stores often keep records of customers’ spending habits, which is then turned over to marketers or other business consultancies to assess how much a person is likely to spend on specific items in the future. In fact, researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have even established a specific model for predicting customer spending in specific categories based on past purchases.
Your Food Choices
Think you’re the only person who knows about your late night fast food habit? Think again. Not only do retailers have a good idea of how much you’re spending on food on a monthly basis, they also know just where those dollars are going.
Your Electronics Preferences
Are you an Apple fan? An Android devotee? Do you still carry a flip phone on a belt clip? Regardless of your preference, Serrano Gómez says that retailers are likely to collect data on not just your electronics spending, but the particular brands you’re loyal to.
Your Social Media Information
As your parents and teachers likely told you, what goes on the internet is forever, your social media profile included. Retailers often glean information about you from social media, so don’t assume that your preference for early ‘90s rap and The Notebook is between you and your inner circle alone. And when you want to improve your digital presence, cut back on these 20 Social Media Mistakes You’re Making!
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