The two previous posts in this series have discussed how privacy on the internet is changing and how this will impact the current e-commerce strategy for many retailers. Here, I will explain how a holistic view of data governance can actually benefit retailers, protecting data privacy whilst building consumer trust.

There are many reasons that retailers should care about their customers' data. Not only are data breaches costly, but when 81% of consumers say the potential risks they face from data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, there is a potential for customer acquisition rates to plummet if shoppers don’t feel protected.

Methods of third-party tracking and the fingerprinting of data allow retailers to provide a personalised experience and access to meaningful data insights, which in turn generate revenue and engagement. The insights simultaneously allow for more tailored approaches and features - streamlined checkout processes, targeted promotions, the use of machine learning and AI-driven algorithms to increase customer loyalty. And customers prefer these experiences and value personalisation. Surveys have shown that over 90% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide personalised marketing, and 80% have purchased products they didn’t initially intend to buy after receiving a personalised recommendation.

However, customers also care about their personal data and they are becoming increasingly more concerned about the risk of data breaches and the potentially malicious consequences of tracking. The privacy sandbox approach, highlighted in our previous post, suggests a solution that still allows retailers to gain insights into users' preferences and online behaviour. The key is to balance the quantity of information collected - enough to indicate a user’s preferences but not to identify them.

Cohort-based information and a user’s live content interactions would help to deliver contextual personalisation, specifically relevant to the current session. This is likely to deliver even more targeted and more relevant personalisation when compared to displaying content based on expired desires.

Retailers must retain some customer data to operate successfully, but it’s important to handle this data responsibly. To meet new data privacy regulations, the de-identification of data is paramount but it should be a part of an effective data privacy plan that focuses on digital property remediation and transformation. Data should not only be de-identified but should also not be linked unnecessarily, as this cross-team or cross-business linking is often where identification is made possible.

Given the risks associated with a breach or regulatory violation, it’s critical to ensure that datasets are appropriately tracked. Some data privacy tools can attach “watermarks” — indelible “fingerprints” encoded into the data. Watermarks are especially helpful to quickly identify when and where a data breach occurred - helping to prevent it in future and identify areas of weakness.

Another suggestion is to find alternative routes to data insights and personalisation. Solutions such as BOON’s provide an engaging and useful shopping assistant that provides both the personalised experience that customers enjoy and the undeniably useful data insights that aid e-commerce strategy across multiple teams.

The steps outlined above will help you build a plan to protect the sensitive data you hold and obtain the strongest competitive advantages for your business.

This is the final post in the Privacy Series