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BizReport : Ecommerce : August 03, 2018

Post-GDPR, merchants adapting

Just two months past the GDPR compliance change, some merchants are adapting well and some are regretting the way they approached the compliance deadline. We chatted with an email expert about how merchants, data, and GDPR can get along now.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: We're just over a month out of the GDPR launch - what trends are you seeing from retailers? 

Mike Austin, Co-Founder & CEO, Fresh Relevance: You can split retailers roughly into three camps. Brands that held personal data to the standards of GDPR in the past and selectively re-permissioned only where they needed to didn't face any, or only an insignificant loss, of their newsletter list. Merchants that held larger amounts of email addresses with no record of where and how they were captured or who had bought them from a third party had to re-permission. They are now facing a thinned subscriber base and looking for ways to replenish it. And then there are those retail marketers who were either misinformed or panicked and used unnecessary, drastic measures, such as 'blanket' re-permissioning the entire database, and are now regretting it. 
Kristina: What are some simple fixes for merchants to ensure they are GDPR compliant?

Mike: Retailers should have the mindset of being transparent, helpful and customer-centric when gaining new email sign-ups. Be clear about what you are offering and the benefits. Don't trick people into subscribing, e.g. don't use pre-ticked checkboxes. Be transparent with what you will do with the data and link to the Privacy Policy. And never, ever buy third party data. 

Kristina: Many merchants continue to have questions about just what is allowed post-GDPR - could you speak to the kinds of data that are still allowed to be used in targeting? For example, can merchants use cart abandons to send email reminders to shoppers? Is customer browsing data allowed for targeted purposes? 

Mike: Personalization and timely shopping recovery emails should be part of every online retailer's marketing toolbox as they are powerful ways to drive extra revenue. Merchants still can and should collect data to personalize the web and email experience and send cart and browse abandonment messages. For most companies, these marketing tactics fall under 'legitimate interest,' meaning no consent is needed. The marketing is happening because the shopper actively requested marketing, e.g. by clicking on a link on the website. 

However, GDPR requires transparent data processing, and keeping shoppers informed is a big part of this. So merchants must tell consumers what data is collected and what it will be used for, using clear and plain language.

Let's take a cart abandonment program as an example. Before any abandonment email can be sent, the website must know the shopper's email address. They entered this when creating an account or at the checkout, which is regarded as 'starting negotiations for a sale.' At that point, the shopper was provided with a statement making clear the purposes for which their data can be used, so sending triggered cart and browse abandonment messages is in line with GDPR. 
Kristina: What are your top 3 strategies for merchants to employ post-GDPR?

Mike: 1. It's important for retailers to know that it's not too late for them to take action and avoid substantial fees and litigation. A permission pass campaign is a great first step to get email consent from those contacts where the brand has no record of where and how the email address was captured. However, post-GDPR you are no longer able to email contacts with an unverified status to re-permission them, so brands should use other channels, such as personalized banners and pop-ups on the website, to ask for consent. 

2. If the database took a hit due to GDPR, retail marketers should focus on growing their email list and be capitalizing on every touch point, web form and channel to drive new newsletter sign-ups. Website data capture devices, such as pop-ups, calls-to-action in transactional emails and on social media are all great ways to establish permission for marketing communications.

3. It's also important to keep in mind that this won't be the last EU privacy regulation. On the heels of GDPR comes the ePrivacy regulation which focuses on ensuring individual privacy as it relates to electronic communications. It definitely pays out to always follow best practices. Brands that apply high marketing standards tend to be less affected by new regulations. 

Tags: advertising, customer data tips, ecommerce, email marketing, Fresh Relevance, GDPR compliance tips, mobile marketing

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