Consumer switching costs are a major part of a plethora of industries, from telephones and cellular networks to newspapers and magazine subscriptions to the airlines and travel choices. With a substantial switching costs, companies are often able to assure their customer’s loyalty or perhaps even reduce competition in the industry by providing strict contractual guidelines and locking-in high initial investments. With the perpetual increase of data in industries small and large, switching costs are becoming more and more of a prevalent discussion, especially as customer data collection becomes more readily available. Companies like Swipely allow merchants and small businesses to use their product in order to interact more with their customers and understand their spending and whom exactly the spending is coming from. Many companies already have formed their own sort of customer evaluation system, such as when high-end hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton give rewards to their customers for being a loyal guest, or when large department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue give rewards for spending a certain amount of money after a certain amount of time…influencing their customers to stay loyal and continue shopping at Saks rather than let’s say Bloomingdales. As technology and the ability to evaluate sales with greater detail becomes more and more accessible, it appears that these evaluations may not just be occurring with large businesses like Saks and the Ritz Carlton, but instead with small, local businesses. Stacey Higginbotham, author of Consumers Could Pay Higher Switching Costs in a Data-Driven World, worries that with technological advancements and the influences of a more data-driven world, switching costs will distort the “local goods and services” markets like they never had before. Instead of a customer perhaps not switching from Verizon to AT&T because of the high switching cost, customers may not eat at the new, local Italian eatery because to them a free large pasta and a glass of wine earned through customer loyalty at a already established restaurant perhaps is more valuable to them than trying out a new restaurant down the block. I worry that this is true as well. Often technology does distort the charm of particular industries and it will be disappointing if it does the same with local goods, driving out local businesses even further and perhaps expanding big boxes. As if chain restaurants did not already have the power to drive out small businesses, with growing data and customer rewards, greater competition and higher difficulty to open local restaurants and stores may become a major result. In conclusion, it does seem that this way of judging customer loyalty with the increase in data makes shopping and consuming much less personal and enjoyable when your name is listed for the amount of money you have spent at the establishment. Sometimes I do think technology pushes its limits, I know the amount of money I personally spend at a place is personal to me and I would not want the shopkeeper to evaluate the likelihood of a purchase based on my prior purchases and money available. This “data-driven world” may cause much less diversity in day to day life, locking customers in to fewer and fewer options for day to day consumptions.