What is Gathering? Shopping apps and sites are now a source of privacy concerns

By avi maxwel / in , , , , , , /

Meet Photo Illustrations
A laptop keyboard and Temu logo displayed on a phone screen are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on March 27, 2023.

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TORONTO (CNN/CTV) — A shopping app that didn’t exist four months ago might be changing the game of e-commerce, however, experts say it’s also raising concerns about data privacy risks.

Garnering conflicting customer reactions throughout Canada and the US, Temu has been making waves on social media platforms over the last two months. The one-stop-shopping service recently became one of North America’s most downloaded free apps on both the App Store and Google Play, thanks in part to its reputation of offering steep discounts on a vast assortment of products, along with opportunities for credit incentives through encouraging sign-up offers.

However, one cybersecurity expert warns that Temu, like any e-commerce app that doesn’t fall under Canadian data protection laws, could present a risk that more shoppers should evaluate.

“Within the last year or so there has been increasing concern about spying from foreign states,” Fred Nerenberg, a senior cybersecurity consultant at a Canadian security firm, told CTVNews. ca over the phone. “But when it comes to people’s data, you are forfeiting your personal information and your browsing habits and your interests to a company that may or may not have ties to foreign governments where that data would be subject to ownership by those foreign states,” he explained.

Temu’s parent company, PDD Holdings, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has subsidiaries primarily registered in China—meaning it could be subject to regulation by Chinese authorities. This is according to a report by the US-China Economics and Security Revision Commission (USCC), which warned that the company’s Chinese ownership raises concerns about cybersecurity, data privacy, and national security concerns.

But how could online shopping present such a digital threat?

“You’re essentially at the mercy of what those companies are doing with your data,” Nerenberg explained, referring to the wide net of data collection these e-commerce services cast. “I think what they choose to do with it is sort of up in the air. It’s under a different jurisdiction.”

Nerenberg said “quite a bit of information about your clientele” can be inferred based solely on browsing habits.

Apps like Temu, he said, can collect metadata that reveals how long customers have looked at certain products and how many times they visited certain pages. This can be used to build data profiles that allow companies to precisely target people with ads that feature products they will be more inclined to purchase.

Nerenberg says the threat could apply to all e-commerce services with international distribution.

According to Forbes, Target once figured out one of its teenage customers was pregnant before her father did, based on her online browsing data.

“These companies could theoretically build those with the same profiles. So it’s no different than the companies here, but how is that information being used by foreign states?”

Temu is an off-shoot

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Amazon Prime Day Leads Biggest Online Shopping Days Ever, Up 6%

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announced the company had its biggest Prime Day event ever, driving consumers to spend online. Prime members purchased more than 375 million items worldwide and saved more than $2.5 billion on millions of deals across Amazon’s extensive product line. “The first day of Prime Day was the largest sales day in Amazon’s history, and Prime members saved more this year than any other Prime Day event,” said Doug Herrington, CEO of Amazon Stores.

On the first day of Prime Day 2023, more deals were offered than on any other Prime Day, with home, fashion, and beauty among the top-selling deal categories. Top selling individual products including Fire TV Stick, LANEIGE
Lip Glowy Balm, Apple AirPods, and Bissell Little Green Portable Deep Cleaner.

Invitations only deals worked well

Amazon used its invite only days ahead of Prime Day to entice its Prime Members to shop early. “It is not as much of a surprise as history repeating itself. Just like we went from Black Friday sales to those sales starting on or before Thanksgiving and going for more than a week through Green Monday, we saw Prime Day become a multi-day affair this year,” said Sarah Engel, President of January Digital. She compared how the invite only deals offered prior to the start of the sale were much like the door-busters of retail’s past. Meanwhile, hundreds of promotions have continued beyond Prime Day so the event, while breaking many records, started early and is ending later.

Online purchasing across US driven by Prime Day promotion

Although Amazon did not disclose the specific revenue generated for its Prime Day event, the highly promoted event drove purchasing online throughout the US market across many retailers. Consumers spent $12.7 billion online in the US over the two day Amazon Prime Day event, setting a new record for online shopping and representing a 6.1% growth year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics.

“You also saw larger retailers take advantage of the Prime Day halo effect to launch mid-summer savings events, many of which last longer than the official 2 days of Prime Day,” said Engel. Some examples include the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale which started its Early Access sale to coincide with Prime Day, Target Circle Week, Best Buy’s Black Friday in July and Walmart Plus Week.

The ecosystem expanded

Amazon included third party sellers on its marketplace to participate in the promotional activities in connection with Prime Day to further the spend in its own ecosystem. “Retailers have realized that the closed ecosystem nature of Amazon shopping does not open up as many opportunities for them as once

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All the Reasons To Start Grocery Shopping on the Stores’ Apps

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For people who are used to grocery shopping the old-fashioned way — with paper coupons in hand instead of a smartphone — the digital age of couponing and shopping apps can feel a bit overwhelming. Now, not only do many grocery stores have their own apps and loyalty programs, but there are dozens of savings apps all claiming to help consumers find the best deals. But do they really?

View Our List: 100 Most Influential Money Experts
Learn: How To Build Your Savings From Scratch

There is definitely money to be saved. GOBankingRates spoke with experts on all the reasons why you should want to start grocery shopping on your stores’ apps.

Stacking Coupons and Coupon Matching

Shopping apps are well worth their time to get up to speed on them, according to Tasia Boland, a frugal living expert who keeps the blog The Frugal Farm Girl. The primary reason behind searching for coupons on store apps and websites is to save users a significant amount of money.

“One of the most effective ways to maximize savings is by stacking coupons and using coupon match-ups, which are when you are stacking a sale price with a coupon. Or you can add an app like Ibotta and Fetch to the stack,” he said.

She recommends using coupon blogs in addition to apps to achieve this stacking effect, such as The Krazy Coupon Lady and Hip2save.

more: 6 Best Items To Buy at Aldi This Summer

Add Manufacturer’s Coupons, Too

Boland said that in addition to the in-app coupons specific to a grocery store, consumers can pair these discounts with any manufacturer coupons. In her neighborhood, the main grocery store is Tops Market. “The Tops store coupons are typically for savings on their own brand, which is a great deal considering that store brand items are less than name brands.”

However, take the membership-only warehouse chain Sam’s Club for example. “They now offer exclusive discounts in the Sam’s app when you use their ‘Scan & Go.’ These savings can be used when items are even on sale. BJ’s Wholesale Club is another one starting to offer exclusive app-only coupons. Again using these extra coupons on top of BJ’s store coupons is a great saving.”

When you are able to stack two coupons on one item, most of the time you are looking at a 50% discount. Combining multiple discounts on a single product allows users to get the best possible price, Boland said. “Many store apps and websites make it easy to identify these opportunities, ensuring that users never miss out on a great deal.”


One of the most obvious advantages to using grocery shopping apps is convenience, said Carlos Barros, Director of Marketing at Epic Now, a cloud-based software provider for electronic point of sale. “Having your phone and handy apps allows you to access information, compare prices and make informed decisions on the go. You can easily check product reviews, ratings, and specifications to ensure

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Klarna CEO on how AI will make online shopping more ’emotional’

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The Scenes

Swedish fintech firm Klarna has evolved from a buy now, pay later venture to an AI-powered payments and e-commerce company. Sebastian Siemiatkowski, co-founder and CEO, is leading the transformation, including talks on partnering with Perplexity, an online search engine enhanced by artificial intelligence. We talked to him about how the hot technology will shake up shopping in an edited conversation below.

The View From Sebastian Siemiatkowski

Q: Klarna has taken the AI ​​revolution seriously with a revamp to TikTok-style content that’s hyper-targeted based on user interests. But another vision of the AI-enabled future is almost the opposite, where people seem to ask large language models what they should buy. Instead of getting an influencer trying to sell them products, the AI ​​lays out the pros and cons of each option and just does the research. How to say Klarna fits in?

A: Both versions you describe are complementary to each other. Our recent Future of Retail report found that 26% of US Gen Zers and Millennials expect the shopping experience to be so customized that AI will eventually do the shopping for them. On the other hand, 85% of consumers still like it speaking with product experts when shopping online.

The future of shopping will include a combination of hyper-personalization based on users’ unique preferences, AI-shopping assistants, and content creators that connect people and products through entertaining experiences.

E-commerce has historically been very transactional and static, and the reality is that people miss the emotional element of shopping at the mall with their friends. Enhancing both the online shopping journey through curated, AI-driven content, while maintaining a meaningful, human touch will be very important. Perplexity is a fantastic company and we’re excited to collaborate with them and others on how we can make these experiences come to life.

Q: How do you see advertising and marketing changing in an AI-driven world? What happens if we’re just chatting with AI bots instead of browsing websites and TikTok?

A: Today in the Western world, 80% of e-commerce is search-driven, whereas in China we are seeing the opposite — 80% of e-commerce is driven by AI-powered recommendation engines, while 20% is through search. Marketers and advertisers benefit immensely when they can more accurately reach their target audience and tailor their content to meet consumer expectations.

One of Klarna’s biggest differentiators is our SKU-level data, which enables us to provide consumers with highly personalized shopping experiences with unmatched depth and detail, and better match them with new brands and offers that are relevant to them. With over 300 billion data points, we see the consumer’s product purchases, images, sizes and colors.

Q: Klarna is diversifying beyond payments and moving into advertising/marketing. But do you see any possibility that AI enables a commerce landscape that actually revolves around fees and commissions, rather than marketing and ads?

A: The creator economy is thriving and I don’t believe the model of affiliate marketing will go away any time soon; if anything it will

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TikTok prepares ‘Project S’ plan to break into online shopping

By avi maxwel / in , , , , , , /

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TikTok is expanding its online retail offerings, with its Chinese parent company selling products through the viral video app as the group seeks to challenge rivals such as Shein and Amazon.

In recent weeks, UK users have begun to see a new shopping feature within the TikTok app called “Trendy Beat”, a section offering items that have proven popular on videos, such as tools to extract ear wax or brush off pet hair from clothing.

All the items advertised are shipped from China, sold by a company registered in Singapore that is owned by TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company ByteDance, according to filings and people familiar with the operations.

The model, similar to how Amazon makes and promotes its own range of best selling items, represents a vast shift from TikTok’s existing shopping marketplace. It currently allows other vendors to sell items through the TikTok Shop, which then takes a small commission.

By contrast, ByteDance would take all the proceeds from sales made through the Trendy Beat feature on TikTok, four people familiar with its operation said.

TikTok said it was currently testing the feature. “We are always exploring new ways to enhance our community’s experience, and we are in the early stages of experimenting with new shopping features,” the company said.

ByteDance is seeking new revenues that can justify its $300bn valuation, which makes it the world’s most highly valued private start-up, ahead of an expected initial public offering in the next two years.

The effort to start selling its own product is known internally as “Project S”, according to six people familiar with internal deliberations. They added ByteDance was building an online retailing unit to challenge groups such as fast-fashion brand Shein and Pinduoduo’s sister app Temu, a site that sells cheap products and features heavily on social media.

Project S is led by Bob Kang, ByteDance’s ecommerce chief, who has recently traveled from Shanghai to co-ordinate the efforts at TikTok’s offices in London, according to two employees. TikTok said Kang was in the UK for a number of reasons and reports to the app’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew.

Project S utilizes TikTok’s knowledge of items that are going viral on the app, allowing ByteDance to acquire or make those items themselves, according to people with the knowledge of the plan. The company then heavily promoted Trendy Beat products over rival sellers on TikTok, the people said.

TikTok said the brand used a network of suppliers to produce items for its Trendy Beat offering.

In order to boost its e-commerce business, ByteDance had recruited employees from Shein, two employees said.

“Bob Kang is obsessed with Temu and replicating his success, and he thinks they can do this by inserting themselves into the supply and sale process,” said another person familiar with the strategy in the UK.

ByteDance has been pushing to expand TikTok’s ecommerce offerings to

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