Stores like Costco are beloved by loyal, sometimes rabid, fans.
And this week, those fans found another reason to love their favorite bulk grocer — beyond $1.50 hot dog combos and free samples of cut-up taquitos.
In the days following a massive fruit recall, the membership-based warehouse retailer actually called customers to tell them to toss their potentially Listeria-tainted peaches, nectarines, plums and pluots. Grocers typically try to warn customers about recalled food, but Costco and other large retailers have an edge on your corner store: These big chains know exactly which customers to warn.
You can thank the creep of Big Data for that. Large retailers amass tons of information about customer buying habits. Big box giant Target caught flack a few years ago for doing this so well that it actually knew a customer was pregnant before she told anyone the news.
In the case of the tainted stone fruit, all that disturbing data mining came in handy.
After a California fruit packing company announced a possible Listeria contamination in stone fruits sold at several major grocery chains, Costco took just one day to use the data it collects on its members to create a list of all the customers who could have purchased the potentially dangerous fruit. (The full list of affected items can be found here.)