An online shoppers understanding of cookies
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If you have access to the internet in the year 2017, chances are that you have done some online shopping, and definitely some online window-shopping.
As a digital window shopper myself, I discovered cookies rather recently. There have been times (more than I care to admit) when I’ve added a pair of shoes to a cart I never checked out. What amazes me is that only a short time after I’ve abandoned a cart, I find those very pair of shoes on the sidebar of my facebook page or on instagram. Its almost as if the shoes have come to haunt me on every social media, like a ghost looking to avenge its untimely death in a bad horror movie.
As an enthusiast of actual cookies and an avid online shopper, I was surprised at first that my computer could track my digital footprints using something as seemingly innocent as a cookie.
Chocolate Chip, Snicker Doodle Or Oatmeal?
In my limited tech understanding, I believe cookies are little digital trackers that keep record of a users browsing habits, the amount of time a user spends on a website and the items they look at. Based on this data, the cookies can ‘suggest recommendations’ as to what product a user might like.
How social media companies’ profit from advertising this data is evident, but who else has access to this data is the bigger concern. Retail websites often ask a user to click a box accepting their cookie policies before they begin browsing, but most shoppers (including me) will pay as much attention to that box as they do to the agree to terms and conditions page of an iOS software update.
Where do I draw the line?
Cookie policies also have a significant impact on retail sales and advertising revenue. After a couple hours of complex research and a jar of actual cookies, I came to the conclusion that the influence of cookies on sales could potentially cost retailers rather than benefit them.
At first impression cookies seem like the over zealous sales person that approaches you as soon as you enter the store and follows you right to the fitting room. Its hard to decide whether or not a shirt looks flattering when there is a sales person on the other side of the fitting room door, asking if you need a different size every five minutes.
Perhaps retailers subscribe to the thinking that if you show a customer an item long enough they will eventually want it. However, when a salesperson consistently tries to sell you an item you’re on the fence about, it is likely that as a shopper you leave the store.
While selling a product, it is more effective for a salesperson to let the customer believe they absolutely need a product and that the idea to purchase it was theirs alone. As technology gets even more sophisticated, perhaps cookies will become a more efficient salesperson, and maybe the only cookies we will have to worry about will be raisin cookies masking as chocolate chip.