For the past few years, "data" has become such an overused word that we're barely even sure what it means anymore. It mostly come down to "browsing history," which is exactly what online shopping outposts are looking for. Or, at least, say they've been looking for. Every time you shop online, you should be getting a custom experience no one else has, based on your interests, Lauren Sherman writes for The Business of Fashion. At least they're trying.

It's easier than ever to snag a customer's data. It can be done through surveys, cookies (the lame, digital kind), that aforementioned browsing history and any other information a customer is willing to give away. Fashion sites thrive on it, giving you suggestions based on your past purchases or, again, browsing history. Brands are even moving those analytics into real life with things like in-store iPads that remember specific customers and their preferences. I don't know about you, but it all feels a little too 1984 for my tastes. However, there are millions of dollars going into the space to make it better, so we'll see if it pans out. Speaking of which, online women's retail giant and Mr. Porter sugar momma, Net-A-Porter, is working to deliver customized pages based on customer info, which is both a good idea when it comes to shopping and limits the impact of shitty advertising. Knowing that someone in Texas might not like the same thing as, say, someone in New York is a step in the right direction.

I say we get shit in order online first before we try bringing it to stores. I don't need to see ads for the same pair of sneakers I've religiously visited to see if they go on sale. I'm aware of that. Shit, I visit the page three or four times a week. Reminding me is not an effective way of getting me to visit your site and purchase something else. An analyst sums up the current disconnect of what we have versus where we'd like to be pretty well: "A lot of this data already existed in some format and it has existed for years. The best retailers know who their best customers are, how frequently they shop and what they buy...There's a lot of venture capital money being poured into this space, but does that mean there's value to be had? Not necessarily."