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U.S. and EU Retailers Release Industry Approach to New Data Protection Regulations to Meet Customer Expectations

The National Retail Federation and EuroCommerce today released a paper that addresses operational challenges retailers in both the United States and the European Union face as they implement programs to comply with new EU data protection regulations while continuing to meet consumers’ expectations for customer service.

“There are still many questions about how the GDPR applies to critical areas of retail operations,” the paper said. “Retailers must find appropriate methods for GDPR compliance that further their customer relationships and do not frustrate them.”

The 14-page “Retail Approach to Implementing Critical Elements of the GDPR” said retailers want to find “approaches to compliance that will meet the requirements of the GDPR while ensuring that retailers can continue to provide customers with the personalization, omnichannel experiences and seamless retail operations that they expect.”

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GDPR is a unique opportunity to improve customer relationship

 

Retailers and wholesalers have put considerable investment and effort into complying with the GDPR to ensure that shopping, whether online or offline, will respect consumers’ right to privacy. These efforts will not end after today, when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes full effect.

 

All companies, whether large or small, based in the EU, but also, depending on the customers they serve, outside the EU, have a legal obligation to apply a set of complex data protection rules as of today. Retail and wholesale companies have been impacted by this Regulation in almost every area of customer data processing. Companies with storefronts, websites, mobile apps or other digital platforms through which they serve customers face new compliance standards, additional administrative burdens and liability for violations, as well more stringent enforcement and penalties. EuroCommerce issued in 2017 a guide “The new EU Data Protection Rules - A Guide for Retailers” aimed at helping its members in ensuring customers’ privacy. The guide is currently being updated to take into account new insights and guidance from the authorities.

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Retail Approach to Implementing Critical Elements of the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)1 sets out changes to almost every area of customer data processing. Retailers with storefronts, websites, mobile apps or other digital platforms through which they serve customers face new compliance standards, additional administrative burdens and liability for violations, as well more stringent enforcement and penalties.

Since the GDPR is both industry-neutral and channel-neutral, there are no sector-specific rules about the use of customers’ personal data by retailers for various commercial purposes, whether online, on mobile apps, in physical store locations or omni-channel. Customers, however, expect retailers to process personal data responsibly and seamlessly when serving them. To meet these expectations, retailers must find appropriate methods for GDPR compliance that further their customer relationships and do not frustrate them.

With the GDPR taking full effect, there are still many questions about how the GDPR applies to critical areas of retail operations, such as: using customer data for improved service or promotional opportunities, managing customer information databases and loyalty programs, collecting customer consents, and honoring customer rights to erase, or port to a competitor, a customer’s personal data.

Retailers have a long history of nurturing customer relationships and meeting consumer expectations. The purpose of this document is to share this experience with GDPR stakeholders, including data protection authorities (DPAs), to facilitate retail-specific approaches to compliance that will meet the requirements of the GDPR while ensuring that retailers can continue to provide customers with the personalization, omni-channel experiences and seamless retail operations that they expect.

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