Everything for sale under one roof, including privacy

Makro-Habib, the hypermarkets that has come to Karachi and soon will be opening up more branches, has an interesting way of keeping track of their customers’ buying habits: to buy anything at one of their outlets, you need to have a special card made for which you must give them a copy of your ID card or your home address/phone number.

I can see how Makro would benefit from this: they would have a shopping history of each and every customer who ever shops there. But at what cost to our privacy? Makro, whose parent company is Dutch, I believe, wouldn’t dare impose such a gross invasion of privacy on their European clients. Keeping track of purchases is itself a dubious tactic from a privacy perspective, but requiring customer to be identifiable by name and address? That’s unbelievable.

24 Comments so far

  1. Feet Maestro (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:05 pm

    This kind of purchase tracking is fairly common at European supermarkets. Of course, the customer doesn’t _have_ to get one of these cards. But using one has certain advantages: discounts, points etc.

  2. mantissa (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:06 pm

    On a similar footing, Costco in the US requires their customers to hold a Costco club card in order to shop at their wholesale retail outlets.I for one, do not remember them ever asking for my social security number while registering. All in all, a gross violation of privacy Marko, that shouldn’t be tolerated.

  3. Hira khan (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

    i woudnt mind dat….

  4. Neena (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:45 pm


    It’s a fairly common practice in the western world. Most don’t need any national Id numbers unless one is planning to cash a personal check. I agree it’s an inavasion of personal privacy but some offer so many discounts that customers tend to overlook it.

    BTW, If one is using credit card then their shopping habbits are already monitered by these businesses.

  5. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

    Actually they do not look at every single record nor they market to individual, they do use data ware houses techniques to see the patterns of buyers. I had a room mate in Chicago whose job was to identify such patterns for big stores. If you buy the milk, most probably you will also buy eggs so put milk and eggs close. When there is a discount then people buy choose pepsi over coke etc.

  6. Kashif (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

    As said earlier, its a common practice in the west. All major (and some minor) stores and marts capture user info to track purchase behaviors, patterns and forecasts. I always wondered why local names such as Imtiaz, D-mart etc haven’t done this yet.

  7. BitterTruth (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

    May I ask which European countries or European super markets follow this strategy of mandatory registration?

  8. Adnan Sheikh (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

    Its common in canada as well, If you want to buy things from Costco you have to have the registration with them. Same with the cash and carry stores in canada, you must be a retailer to buy from cash and carry in canada, and to prove that you have to give them your GST number alloted to you by the givernment. so it is no unusual, but yeah its new in Pakistan so that is why seems wierd to you guys.

  9. Obi Wan Kenobi (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

    And for costco membership, you have to pay som what like 60$ per annum. See positives, at least Makro-Habib is not asking you membership fees :-)

  10. A fully informed idiot (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 10:04 pm

    The registration is not mandatory. You can shop without the ID card but then you are not entitled to the small discount.

    So if you value your privacy, do not register, just shop and pay a little bit more. SIMPLE!!!!

    What is the big deal here? Why do you always have to crib about something so trivial.

    You do have a choice. Go spend your money at Aghas.

  11. Abrar Siddiqui (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    Yes indeed, as many have posted above its very common and its done by all Retailes who offer membership/discount or points card…….. this forms the basis of predicting shoppping patterns, etc!!

  12. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    if they make the registeration mandatory then they would not make a profit in 100 years in pakistan and would be winding up their operation here pretty soon.

    imagine when a salesman asks a female customer about her contact info…he would be hit in the head by her shoe if he is lucky…:)) otherwise he may end up in a hospital.

  13. d0ct0r (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 12:56 am

    the card is not at all mandatory.. i have shopped at Makro number of times without any card..

  14. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 12:59 am

    where is MAKRO located?

  15. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 4:04 am

    I wonder you never thought about privacy while shopping on Amazon? or it’s just you never bought anything online?

  16. verysmart (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

    well you can check out TESCO CLUB CARD, NECTAR CARD, COSTO CARD, WALMART CARD, Marks & Spencer Card, Mobile Top-up Cards….

    The deal is .. the FMCGs and other manufactureres get first hand information about the target customers, what they are buying, when they are buying it, for whom are they buying it, and when are they buying it… This gives the information to the vendor about their target markets, location and timing of product launch and campaign directions to make important decisions like the pricing and what not.. Marketing majors know the 4Ps and 6Ps very well, and the technical proof of they theory being effective is very well established already.

    Plus, if being a customer I am given choices about finding a deal that fits my taste and previous bought deals, it is more of a convinience. For instance lateley I wrote an email to my friend about finding me a suitable appartment in Islamabad using GMAIL, when my friend replied me, I got a listing of property and their respective rental values, alongwith deals on oneway Air Tickets for karachi-Islamabad on the right panel of Gmail page (Google Advertised Pages), I did clicked a few and it gave me a edge in my understanding of the rentals for islamabad apartments.

    You can also read the Tesco case studies (i think on The Harvard Business Review) which details the cost saving that Tesco has been able to achieve by optimizing the supply chains using the data gathered from the Tecso ClubCard loyalty program. The case study also reveals the methodology of transfering these benefits to the customers.

    As far as the legality of the matter is concerned, it is not a MUST to signup for any such card to shop at MAKRO or any other locations.

    I think for a country like Pakistan which has an unregistered economy of over 35%, we must encourage any efforts to have it regularized and documented. Debit Cards, Loyality Cards, and Bank accounts will definitely help in composition of data at the National Credit Information Bureau and help the banks to optimize their risk strategies. This is how free and fair economies work all around the world.

    A CYnic may find one negative after another anyways.

  17. Adnan Mustufa Siddiqui (unregistered) on August 4th, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

    You talk about music,songs,shopping but for many life is not a piece of cake, infact for many around us just a piece of cake is the entire life like this:


  18. Farhat (unregistered) on August 5th, 2007 @ 10:46 am

    CY – am sure whatever they ask WE have choice to decline and deny – as long as we are paying for what we are buying. ?? Isn’t it ???

    Makro is currently at ONLY one location in Karachi, that is SITE, Next to HinoPak

  19. Marium Arif (unregistered) on August 6th, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

    Another Makro outlet will be officially launched this month in Saddar on Mubarak Shaheed road

    Word of advise: The traffic jams on that day will be a nightmare due to security blockades so stay away from the outlet location or the routes connecting to saddar

  20. Saad Durrani (unregistered) on August 8th, 2007 @ 2:23 am

    Do we have to hype every petty issue up? ARY is doing that card thing already. I dont see any harm in giving CNIC number to an organization like Makro-Habib.

  21. richard (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    this is normal in europe – and if you dont like it dont shop at makro1 its that simple.

  22. richard (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    this is normal in europe – and if you dont like it dont shop at makro1 its that simple.

  23. richard (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    this is normal in europe – and if you dont like it dont shop at makro1 its that simple.

  24. richard (unregistered) on August 11th, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    this is normal in europe – and if you dont like it dont shop at makro1 its that simple.

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