How Online Retailers Get You to Spend More

Retail strategies to be aware of in this game of psychological shopping warfare.

Retail strategies to be aware of in this game of psychological shopping warfare.
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While stores probably won't begin tracking our every move with a security camera, it will probably become commonplace for an emailed offer to come to us via our smartphone when we're in the store, Jao says.

Of course, there is a Big Brother quality to how much retailers know about us, even if it's simply a matter of computer algorithms figuring us out, versus a bunch of people in a room looking at our purchases and making judgments on whether we have lousy taste. And data analysts are keenly aware of that perception – which is why retailers need to strive to "be helpful, not creepy," says John Healy, COO of Monetate, a Conshohocken, Penn.-based website optimization and analytics tech provider. (In other words, the company takes a lot of customer behavior data and helps companies make predictions on how online customers will behave.)

[See: 10 Signs You Shop Too Much.]

And Hosanagar, who is also Monetate's chief scientific advisor, adds, probably spot-on: "Stores have a lot to lose if they violate the customers' trust."

Corrected on 07/12/2013: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the company Monetate.