Why Amazon stopped including purchase info in order confirmations

To protect its data edge, Amazon stopped sending order confirmation and shipping details to our inboxes. In a world of augmented reality (AR) glasses, it won’t be so easy to protect a data moat.

September 3, 2020

If you’re a regular Amazon shopper, you’ve probably gotten used to the ‘ping’ of an order confirmation hitting your inbox after you buy something.

But in recent months, you may have noticed that these emails no longer include item details — just your order total and the date of purchase.

Why the sudden change?

According to Adrian Hon, the CEO of game developer Six to Start, Amazon may have removed the purchase details from these emails in an attempt to protect its data.

One industry observer posits that the move could be an effort to prevent third-party services from collecting data from user inboxes.

Amazon (which did not publicly announce this change) presumably wants to keep this valuable information to itself.

The arrival of augmented reality (AR) will make scraping ubiquitous 

This is what Hon calls “worldscraping.” Any perceived data point can be captured by AR glasses and quickly turned into a valuable database.

Here’s an example: MyFitnessPal was able to build a data moat from years of user-submitted food calorie information. Hon tells us that the same database could be put together “100x faster” in an AR world, decimating MyFitnessPal’s data advantage.

This obviously raises a ton of questions: Who owns the data? How can a company protect itself? It’s too soon to tell, but the answer won’t be as easy as modifying an email.

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