Amazon’s (AMZN) Prime Day, the annual shopping holiday that’s exclusive to Prime subscribers, has spurred competition from conventional and online retailers.
On Monday, the first day of Amazon’s 48-hour shopping bonanza this year, retailers that bring in more than $1 billion in annual revenues witnessed a 64% increase in their online sales compared with an typical Monday, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s more than a 54% spike last year, claimed Adobe, which quantifies transactions the majority of the internet retailers in the U.S.
Amazon itself is keenly aware of the rivalry, and has even created a specific promotion for U.S. shoppers on Prime Day, where Prime customers can earn $10 of credit if they let Amazon track the websites they visit.
The offer is for new installations of the Amazon Assistant, a comparison-shopping tool that customers can add to their web browsers, it enables the online retail behemoth to retrieve Amazon’s price for products that users find on other sites such as Walmart.com, Target.com and elsewhere.
In order to function properly, the assistant needs access to users’ web activity, including the links and certain page content they view. Amazon explains in the fine print, that the company can use this data to improve its general marketing, products and services, unrelated to the shopping assistant, offering Amazon and other companies that utilize such technology potential insight into how they should tailor marketing and how it could generate an edge over the retail competition.
“This data is often used for training machine learning models to do better ad targeting,” said Bennett Cyphers, a technologist at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “But in the U.S., there aren’t really restrictions on what you can do with this kind of data.”
Although Google has used similar technology for quite some time, Amazon did not mention how it utilizes the data it gathers via the assistant for any unrelated purposes.
The policy also notes that customers can turn off certain features of the assistant, and that Amazon only links browsing data to an individual’s account when the assistant is in active use.
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