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Why the GDPR could be the best thing to happen to your retail business

Earlier this year the new data breach legislation came into effect in Australia requiring that any retailer with turnover of more than $3 million not only hast to report a cyber-attack to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, but potentially inform all affected individuals and make a public apology.

Failure to do so or repeated non-compliance could see civil penalties of up to $1.8 million.

Next month, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect across the European Union, which means that if you’re an international retailer and have establishments in Europe, you may also need to comply with this new legislation. Here’s how to turn it to your advantage.

Greater transparency

GDPR requires organisations to be more transparent about how they process and use customers’ personal data. Demonstrating clearly to customers that privacy is an absolute priority for your business will be essential going forward.

The requirements for GDPR compliance give businesses a chance to strengthen their position on privacy and the handling of personal data. Increased transparency will, in turn, lead to greater trust and increased customer loyalty, and may even encourage customers to share additional, specific data in exchange for better service.

Improved omnichannel experience

Stricter privacy rules provide an excellent opportunity for retailers to break down data silos within their business and improve how they organise and store the customer data they hold. Previously overlooked projects such as these are now receiving board-level attention and investment thanks to GDPR.

With better integration of customer data, it becomes easier to build a complete customer view. This will allow you to significantly improve your communications with customers and provide them with a better service. The ability to see real-time marketing, sales and customer service data, all in one place, and never have to ask the same question twice.

As the number of online and self-service channels grows, live chat, social media and video chat will not only mean extra channels for retailers to manage, but more channels that will need to be integrated to give one, consolidated customer view.

Right to be forgotten

Whilst you as a retailer would prefer that your customers remain loyal to you and only you, you will be familiar with the phrase: ‘if you love somebody, set them free’. In other words, if you really value your customers, do not lock them in or tie them down..

Consumers already have the right to request the deletion of their personal data, but GDPR extends that right to request ‘the right to be forgotten’, which requires organisations to delete their personal data (in certain circumstances) including any data from any other organisation it has passed information about them onto. Out of sight, out of mind, and out of the database. But rest assured, retailers that do this will be rewarded with genuine customer loyalty, thanks to the improved customer service they are able to offer.

So while it would be easy to label GDPR compliance as an annoying, time-consuming and potentially expensive administrative obligation, the truth is it could be a powerful weapon for increasing customer satisfaction. Treat GDPR as a compulsory kick-start to assess the way your retail business handles information and take the opportunity to improve the service you deliver at the same time. Not only will you reduce your risk but you’ll improve customer satisfaction and loyalty – win, win.

By Rod Moynihan, director of Zendesk ANZ.

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