Google changed its privacy policy to reflect Bard AI’s data collecting, and we’re spooked

Google just changed the wording of its privacy policy, and it’s quite an eye-opening adjustment that has been applied to encompass the AI tech the firm is working with.

As TechSpot reports, there’s a section of the privacy policy where Google discusses how it collects information (about you) from publicly accessible sources, and clarifying that, there’s a note that reads: “For example, we may collect information that’s publicly available online or from other public sources to help train Google’s AI models and build products and features, like Google Translate, Bard and Cloud AI capabilities.”

Preivously, that paragraph read that the publicly available info would be used to train “language models” and only mentioned Google Translate.

So, this section has been expanded to make it clear that training is happening with AI models and Bard.

It’s a telling change, and basically points out that anything you post online publicly  may be picked up and used by Google's Bard AI.

Analysis: So what about privacy, plagiarism, and other concerns?

We already knew that Google’s Bard, and indeed Microsoft’s Bing AI for that matter, are essentially giant data hoovers, extracting and crunching online content from all over the web to refine conclusions on every topic under the sun that they might be questioned on.

This change to Google’s privacy policy makes it crystal clear that its AI is operating in this manner, and seeing it in cold, hard, text on the screen, may make some folks step back and question this a bit more.

After all, Google has had Bard out for a while now, so has been working in this manner for some time, and has only just decided to update its policy? That in itself seems pretty sly.

Don’t want stuff you’ve posted online where other people can see it to be used to train Google’s big AI machinery? Well, tough. If it’s out there, it’s fair game, and if you want to argue with Google, good luck with that. Despite the obvious concerns around not just basic privacy issues, but plagiarism (if an AI reply uses content written by others, picked up by Bard’s training) – where do any boundaries lie with the latter? Of course, it’d be impractical (or indeed impossible) to police that anyway.

There are broader issues around accuracy and misinformation when data is scraped from the web in a major-scale fashion, too, of course.

On top of this, there are worries recently expressed by platforms like Reddit and Twitter, with Elon Musk apparently taking a stand against “scraping people’s public Twitter data to build AI models” with those frustrating limitations that have just been brought in (which could be big win for Zuckerberg and Threads, ultimately).

All of this is a huge minefield, really, but the big tech outfits making big strides with their LLM (large language model) data-scraping AIs are simply forging ahead, all eyes on their rivals and the race to establish themselves at the forefront, seemingly with barely a thought about how some of the practical side of this equation will play out.

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Canva thinks you’re doing data visualization wrong

Canva thinks businesses are doing data wrong. And it’s rolling out a tool to fix that. 

The company has announced the launch of interactive data visualizations built right into the graphic design software. These are engaging data maps, charts, graphs that make things seem just that little bit clearer. Most users will have toyed with them on news sites like the BBC. Now, they can add them to their own photos, PDFs, and presentations.

The move follows the acquisition of UK data-viz platform Flourish, as the Aussie firm ramps up its Europe presence.

Data ≠ dull

Data is tricky to present – especially to an audience who may be unfamiliar or unengaged with the topic. An Excel-generated bar graph, faded and static, will struggle in a content-rich world. The death yawn of a thousand sales pitches and PowerPoint slides. The last sigh of a think-piece.

And while the company didn’t put it quite like that, it’s this thinking – that data needs to be like everything else: visual – driving the roll-out. So, there’s no excuse for making data boring. 

Users will already find standard charts and graphs on the platform – we’ve always found them somewhat basic and uninspired. But from today, users can embed Flourish visualizations into their designs. Users get access to native hierarchical treemap and packed circle charts straight from the app, with Canva promising “animated charts, zoom-able maps, explorable diagrams, and more.”

That Flourish is deepening integration into Canva will come as no surprise. It’s not the first by any measure, with the firm counting stock photo sites Pexels and Pixabay amongst its relatively recent acquisitions. Meanwhile, it’s been quietly building out the platform with a free PDF editor, website builder, and AI photo tools. 

Readers may spot a common thread among the acquisitions: they’re all European businesses. Then came the opening of its first European campus in London. It seems the continent is where Canva sees its growth potential, with the company calling it home to some of its “fastest growing and most densely populated markets.” Just don’t tell Adobe Express about Canva’s continental plans.  

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How to use POS system customer data: 9 inspiring ideas that work wonders

Learning how to use POS system customer data means you can exploit a wealth of information about your customers. This can give you an edge on building up relationships and brand loyalty. In that respect, the best point of sale (POS) systems offer businesses so much more than just a fantastic payment experience. 

Many, if not the majority of POS (point of sale) systems on the market today, have sophisticated customer shopping behavior analytics, which are often built in. So what's the best way to use all that amazing POS data?

Pro Tip 💡

Person using a Point of Sale (POS) system card reader

(Image credit: Artur Debat via Getty Images)

Before you delve into customer insight, make sure you understand the basics of how a POS system works so you can choose the right POS system for your business

Monitoring these analytics is the first step in gleaning insights into the the people who walk through your doors or shop with you online. POS system customer data is an endless source of insight that can help you build out a promotional sales calendar, create content about popular products and offer data-backed marketing to your mailing list – but only if you act on it. 

Exploiting your POS data to make new shoppers loyal regulars is the second and most important step. How you use that POS system customer data can cause a spike in sales or deliver free word-of-mouth marketing for your business. 

In this article, we’ll shed light on nine inspired ways to use POS system customer data for insight in your retail business.

1. Serve up relevant product suggestions 

This is one of the low-hanging fruits when it comes to POS data. Knowing what shoppers have purchased before makes it simpler to suggest products they might be interested in. 

If a customer bought items from certain brands or categories in the past, you can use that data to market similar items in the future. Be sure to get their feedback on those suggestions too and involve them in the process. Over time, your product suggestions become increasingly accurate. 

The department store Nordstrom does this really well. The retailer takes note of specific purchases by its customers (e.g., cosmetics, designer products, etc.) and sends tailored product recommendations, based on the buying history of a shopper and their preferences.

Nordstrom POS data

(Image credit: Nordstrom)

When marketing to new customers, you can use the purchase histories of shoppers with a similar profile to make appropriate product recommendations. 

Amazon is a master at this, which is why all of its product pages contain the section “People who viewed this also viewed…” 

Amazon product suggestions based on POS system customer data

(Image credit: Amazon)

Consider doing something similar in your small business marketing initiatives. Pay attention to what people are buying and use that information to create relevant messages and suggestions. 

2. Make timely product recommendations 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator from Pexels

Use your POS system to make timely product recommendations all year round, not just during national holidays.  (Image credit: Pexels)

You can also use POS data to inform the timing of your customer marketing campaigns or promotions. By knowing when a customer bought something, you can make an educated guess on what they’ll buy next or when they would need to replenish their supplies. 

We can see this in action in the supplements store Acupuncture Atlanta. When you purchase a product – e.g., a bottle of vitamins – the store takes note of when you made the purchase and sends an email around the time when the vitamins are about to run out. 

Acupuncture Atlanta using POS system customer data

(Image credit: Acupuncture Atlanta)

If you sell items that need to be refilled, take a leaf out of Acupuncture Atlanta’s playbook and schedule reminders that encourage customers to repurchase your products.  

3. Know your top customer segments 

In addition to shedding light on what people are buying, your POS data also tells you who your best customers are. That data is incredibly valuable, especially if you want to home in on your target market. 

Knowing what types of shoppers are buying from you the most can help you tweak your brand messaging, figure out which retail marketing channels to invest in and decide what types of promotions to offer. 

Let’s say you’re an apparel retailer and you discover that your top customers are women aged between 28 and 35. Armed with that information, you can come up with campaigns and assets that incorporate images and ad copy that these women can relate to.

4. Improve your store’s layout and merchandising 

POS card reader with mini shopping cart

(Image credit: Future)

At a loss for ideas on how to merchandise your store? Turn to your POS data. Identify things like: 

  • Your best sellers
  • Top colors or sizes
  • Items frequently bought together 

Having the data above can inform decisions such as what items to display and how to merchandise your mannequins, windows and so on. 

For example, if you know that customers typically buy a purse with a specific pair of shoes, then you can create a display showcasing those items together. Or, if a particular color is flying off the shelves, then you can put it front and center at your store so customers can see it. 

Whatever the case may be, take the time to go through your sales and customer reports and identify trends that you can use in your in-store merchandising and design decisions. 

5. Come up with effective promotional ideas 

In the same way that POS data helps you merchandise your store, that same information can also give your promotional ideas. Insights into your top categories or products can aid you in determining which items to spotlight in your promo materials. 

In some cases, you can use sales data to drive a sense of urgency. If an item is selling quickly, you can indicate that in your advertising to entice people to purchase right away. 

Some retailers choose to highlight popular items in their marketing when products that were previously sold out become available. 

Have a look at this example from UNTUCKit, which spotlights the fact that the brand's best selling polo shirt is back in stock.

UNTUCKit using POS system customer data

(Image credit: Untuckit)

6. Determine what types of product packages or bundles to sell 

Selling item bundles or packages can be an effective strategy to move your inventory. Many retailers, for example, bundle popular products with slow-moving items to help get the latter out the door. In certain instances, a bundle containing high and low-margin items allows merchants to maximize their profits. 

That said, bundles work best when you know which items go well together. And that’s where your POS data comes in. 

Identify the merchandise that your customers typically buy at the same time, then calculate your pricing and margins to ensure that bundling up those products makes sense from a financial standpoint. 

7. Figure out what to stock up on (and what not to order) 

Hands look over customer spending report with pencial

POS system sales reporting tools allow you to look into customer spending behaviour and use that insight when stocking up.  (Image credit: Matthew Henry via Burst)

Knowing which products are most popular among your shoppers enables you to make smarter inventory decisions. 

If you have a solid handle on what your bestsellers are (and why they’re so popular) you can stock more of those products. Then, put your least popular stock on sale to move it quickly and make space for best-selling items.

You can take things a step further by using POS system customer data to predict trends and determine which items to add to your catalog. On the flip side, it’s also important to know which products are no-sell duds, so you can avoid stocking them in your shop again. 

8. Make decisions on what to put on sale 

Large retail glass window shows the word SALE in capitals

(Image credit: Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

Speaking of duds, you need to keep a close eye on the items that shoppers aren’t buying. The sooner you can figure out what products aren’t resonating, the more time you’ll have to correct course. 

For instance, if a certain dress style or brand isn’t selling, you’ll want to know sooner rather than later so you can put it on sale. That way you can also ensure that the person in charge of purchasing stock doesn’t re-order that particular item. 

9. Improve staff knowledge and customer service 

woman using a pos system in a store

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Thanks to the internet and our smartphones, consumers today are more well-informed than ever. Research by Tulip Retail found that 80% of consumers believe that they’re more knowledgeable than retail associates.

To that end, you can stay competitive by instilling knowledge, skills and confidence in your staff. In doing so, you’ll show customers that your employees are product experts who can guide shoppers in their purchasing decisions. 

You can accomplish that by giving your team access to your POS system customer data. When your staff members know what items are trending and when they’re aware of each shopper’s purchase history, they’ll be in a much better position to assist and impress your customers. 

Bringing it all together 

Your POS system customer data can improve various components of your business. From retail marketing and sales to inventory management, having the right information at your fingertips can truly be a game-changer. 

So, aside from knowing how to use POS systems or how POS systems work, it’s important to know how to extract the right data from your platform. Doing so will enable you to make smarter decisions so you can grow and thrive.

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This new PDF tool might be the best way to keep your confidential data safe

Foxit has announced the release of Smart Redact – an AI-powered tool that can detect and redact sensitive information contained within PDF documents. 

The new tool promises to provide businesses with a more efficient way to stay compliant with global data laws and regulations like GDPR. Now, firms can search and hide sensitive data without having to exit the PDF editor and disrupt the workflow. 

Smart Redact comes as an optional add-on. However, it’s built directly into Foxit PDF Editor – considered one of the best PDF readers for Windows – so unlike other PDF plugins, you won’t need to install it. You just need to switch it on. 

 Smart, sensitive, secure

Privacy-conscious Foxit users are no strangers to redaction. The PDF editor, which we champion as one of the best Adobe Acrobat alternatives, included the option to manually locate and mark text, images, areas, and even whole pages for redaction. 

Now, Foxit claims that Smart Redact “builds upon the redact capability in PDF Editor by expanding the number of automatic sensitive data pattern searches, including those without static patterns, such as person names, organization names, personal roles.”

Alongside the AI tool, user profiles are also now available. Profiles let you set certain types of confidential data that are always to be obscured. That means you won’t have to constantly search and scrub protected information across multiple documents and document types, as Smart Redact will automatically do it for you. 

With cybersecurity front of mind, Smart Redact is TAA compliant and SOC 2 Certified. Data transferred between the software and the Foxit cloud server deploys AES-256 encryption. 

Frank Kettenstock, Foxit CMO, said “By leveraging artificial intelligence, Foxit Smart Redact dramatically improves the productivity of knowledge workers involved in redaction. Users will save time and reduce the potential for errors.”

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