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Amazon Just Launched a New Way to Make Money

Always known for its data-collecting capabilities, Amazon now wants to give deeper product insights to third-party brands that sell in its physical stores.

The e-commerce giant has launched Store Analytics, a service designed to provide brands with aggregated and anonymized insights about the performance of their products, promotions and ad campaigns across Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh locations.

Amazon collects these data points via two of its recent physical retail technology developments that both use computer vision to capture shopper movements in real time. One is the “Just Walk Out” cashierless checkout technology, a network of ceiling cameras and shelf sensors that tracks shoppers as they walk around the store and pick up items, before automatically charging them when they exit. The other is the Amazon Dash Cart, a shopping cart using cameras and weight sensors to automatically log products placed inside.

Both systems log the purchase using the credit card shoppers already have on file with Amazon.

While Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh will deploy the technology, Amazon Style fashion stores will not feature Store Analytics, according to a company spokesperson.

“Store Analytics does not apply to Amazon Style as those stores do not leverage Just Walk Out technology,” the spokesperson said. The representative did not confirm whether there were plans to implement the Just Walk Out technology in Style stores in the future.

The insights from Just Walk Out and the Dash Cart already can help Amazon improve the shopper experience at the locations by making the store layout easier for shoppers to find their go-to items and discover new ones. Ultimately, this could improve product selection and availability, and also add value through relevant promotions and advertising.

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With Store Analytics, brands in these stores will now have access to details on how their products are discovered, considered and purchased, which can further helping them inform decisions related to merchandising, promotions and ad campaigns. Through the Store Analytics dashboard, brands will be able to view how their products rank and perform in each store.

Additionally, advertisers running in-store campaigns such as digital signage will see associated performance metrics in their campaign reports.

Although Just Walk Out has been implemented in select Whole Foods stores, it appears for now, the data will exclusively be collected from the Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go concepts.

Amazon enables consumer opt-out amid privacy concerns

A company blog post announcing Store Analytics touched on the privacy concerns consumers may have in regards to their shopping data. Store Analytics will only provide aggregated and anonymized data to brands, meaning that in all use cases, data shared with brands is presented as a grouping and does not contain any personal information.

Amazon says it does not share anything that can be linked back to any individual shopper. Instead, the company shares totals, averages and percentages about product, promotion and ad campaign performance. For example, the online marketplace may share the percentage of how often a brand’s product was taken off the shelf and then purchased either during that store visit or later on Amazon.com.

“We never share personal information about shoppers, so the data brands receive will never include details such as their name, individual browsing data or individual session details like the time of day they shopped or the store at which they shopped,” Amazon said in the blog. “Further, no video or images of shoppers will be shared with brands as part of this service.”

Still, Amazon allows shoppers to opt out of the service on the Store Analytics website.

The opt-out option is available under the “submit your preference” section of the site, where users select “do not include my shopping data in Store Analytics,” before hitting the “submit” button. To opt out on a mobile device, consumers can go directly to the Store Analytics website and follow the same steps, or navigate to “Your Account” in the Amazon Shopping app or on Amazon.com on their mobile browser.

Additionally, notice of the opt-out is included on in-store signage and in email receipts from Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S. when shoppers use Just Walk Out technology or Amazon Dash Carts to check out.

Shoppers who opt out can still use Just Walk Out technology and Amazon Dash Carts in Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. But Amazon will not retain or use data for the purpose of Store Analytics or related advertising measurement from any future shopping trips for that shopper’s account.

Data privacy has been a major issue for U.S. Big Tech firms, and Amazon is no stranger to ongoing criticisms and clashes with regulatory authorities over its business practices. In July last year, Luxembourg’s privacy regulator initially fined Amazon $887 million for breaching European GDPR protection laws, but a federal judge later suspended the court order in December.

“We follow Amazon’s long-standing privacy and security policies and approaches. Store Analytics data is stored in a secure zone in the cloud. We always anonymize and aggregate the data before providing it to brands who receive the service,” the company said in the blog. “We know that shoppers care about how their information is used and shared, so we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can make this service useful for brands while continuing to protect shoppers’ privacy. We take privacy seriously, and any sensitive data is treated in accordance with our long-standing policies.”