So there's this pretty small company that you've probably never heard of. It's called Google, and back in the day, you'd use it to find stuff on the Internet. Google has obviously expanded since then, becoming an all-encompassing Internet giant, and it's finally taking a leap offline with Conversions API.
Conversions API is an advertising project that allows (and helps) businesses build user profiles. For a while now, Google has been paying attention and recording what you search for so that it can target specific advertisements at the right people. That's why if you love classic rock, you might see Internet ads for Jimi Hendrix CDs more often than for florists.
But Conversions API takes things a step further: it will build this profile not just based on what you've searched, but also what you've purchased offline. Google announced the new project on one of its blogs, and it says "We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions ... To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we're announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically."
It will record things like in-store transactions.
Of course, there are a number of safety precautions that go alone with the service to protect your information, but don't surprised if what you buy at the mall starts showing up on the Internet.