created: 2023-05-17T01:24:48 (UTC -07:00)
what: a collection of stories around privacy creeping by physical stores in non-western countries
who: anyone with experience

How Offline Stores get your Personal Data - A Pattern Library — the sourness of study -


How Offline Stores get your Personal Data - A Pattern Library

How Offline Stores get your Personal Data - A Pattern Library

Creative Commons License
How Offline Stores get your Personal Data - A Pattern Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This collaborative project is all about creating a collection of information on how physical stores collect personal data from customers. The examples given in the excerpt show different ways that stores do this and how they convince people to share their information. The main goal of the project is to make people aware of privacy issues and how stores collect their data when they shop offline. By collecting this information, the project wants to help people make informed decisions about whether or not to share their personal information. If you join this project as a collaborator, you would research and collect more examples of how stores collect data from customers. You might observe and study practices in your own area, talk to store owners or customers, and provide your insights on the effects of these practices. Your unique perspective and research would be valuable in expanding our understanding of these practices.

Table of Contents

Nukkad Shop Billing Machine

I had experiences with these at two places. At place A in bangalore which was inside an isolated gated society and was probably one of the few well-stocked places in a kilometer or two. Place B was on a busy road in a locality with many gated societies nearby.

They both would ask for my number for the billing process and I refused at both places. After a few months, Place A refused to serve me without the phone number even if I paid with cash and not a digital payment. Place B started to nudge me toward giving my phone number so that I avail of a 10% discount. But I never had to do it.


Back when I was in Pune, I remember the day Medplus came to Dapodi (circa 2009). From the beginning they offered discounts in exchange for giving your phone number. I remember being surprised that I would be offered a discount if I gave my Mom’s number without them seeing her face. Post the demonetization digital payments boom, Medplus (also Apollo) shifted to another strategy which I found out about in Bangalore. They give no UPI QR or an option for UPI payments which is the usual norm. The only available mode of payment is through Paytm. However, you have to first give your Paytm linked number after which you have to put the money in a wallet and then show them the code from your side which they enter and the money is directly cut.

QR codes based Menus in Restros and Pubs

I saw these in two places in Bangalore where you could access the menu through the QR code on the table. The menu at both places was built on the same portal (I’ll update the name when I find it next). They ask for your phone number. At first, I tried to put in all zeroes. But the next screen said “Please wait while the serving staff tells you the OTP”. Now this caused some doubt - was the OTP based on my phone number or the table. If it is for the table, did I need to give my phone number? Also what is the need for a menu that asks for a phone number to view it? The justification given for QR code menus is contactlessness but the ask for a phone number is piggybacking on the familiarity with online platforms doing this for everything.


I went to Chai Point to order a paratha and the working staff at the counter asked if I wanted a chai. I said no, then they told me if I added a chai to my order I would be able to avail of a 20% discount. I agreed. They said they would have to show me how to do it and took me to a table where there was the familiar QR code menu. The QR code scanned popped out a link which was familiar to me as the whatsapp link. I clicked on it and it took me to the Whatsapp business account for Chai point, with “Hi” typed in the chat box. After I hit send, it gave me another link, which took me to a website where i was asked to enter my name and email(optional). I entered my name and then I was asked for location permission so that I can find this particular store of Chai Point. After finding the store, I have to search and add each item on my order and then add a coupon code to get the 20% discount. The checkout had a payment portal on it as well.