Grocery Database Leads to Recall Warning

Club Card members closely watched

Grocery stores know what you buy. Should they do more to notify you when you bought something that ends up on a recall list?

Grocery shopper Mary Katherine Reeber thinks so.

"If there is something horrible that I bought and there's a recall, I want to know about it," she said.

Large grocery chains have been collecting shopper's buying habits and storing them in databases since the introduction of the Club Card.

"The world has changed," said San Diego State marketing professor Steven Osinski. "Everybody has a very high awareness of big data as a concept."

But today that data is being used in a very practical way.

Amazon recently sent out an email to its Prime Now customers who purchased a brand of Gold Medal Flour that was on a recall list. The email started with the words: "We have learned of a potential safety issue regarding certain product(s) that our records indicate you purchased through the PrimeNow app."

Amazon PrimeNow is a mobile app that promises grocery deliveries in a few hours. It clearly keeps track of what customers buy and uses that information for recall notification: "We regret any inconvenience this may cause you but trust you will understand that the safety and satisfaction of our customers is our highest priority."

"I would say it is very proactive and very customer driven on looking out for the the well being of the customer," said Osinski.

Ralphs grocery store has reached out to customers by phone to notify them of recall alerts.

"I presume they keep track of things so they know what to stock and what people want," said Mary Katherine Reeber. "If there is something dangerous that I purchased and they know that I've purchased it, they should let me know about it."

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