Facebook's Scandal And GDPR Are Creating New Opportunities For Retail

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Have you noticed recently how all the tech giants have quietly updated all of their privacy policies, and small updates have been pushed out to consumers via mobile and desktops? Have you caught yourself wondering why?

Facebook. GDPR. Data Breaches. Oh my. The new era of consumer data protection is upon us.

While the use of data has opened the world to exciting, positive advancements like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and digital, personalized commerce, with the lack of regulation or standards for the use of data, it was just a matter of time before things got real.

Thanks to Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, and endless breaches by Uber and others, consumer data protection is likely a defining theme for 2018 and beyond. GDPR (here’s a good primer for retailers), which went into effect May 25, puts consumers back in control of their personal information – at least in Europe –  but similar changes are likely coming to the U.S. Lawmakers are aligning behind broad privacy regulations which would put Google “on the hot seat next to Zuckerberg”, according to a recent article.

Many retailers and brands – widely known for amassing enormous quantities of consumer data – are befuddled with what to do now. It’s taken years, if not decades, to apply smart analysis and tools to the data they’ve accumulated on consumer preference and behavior. For the most part, retailers and brands are using their data responsibly and producing real consumer value through greater personalization, speed and simplicity. And consumers are responding positively, leading to greater sales.

But the focus on personal data protection has changed expectations for consumers. Many are weighing whether the convenience they enjoy by sharing their data outweighs the risk and reality of its misuse. While all eyes are trained on Facebook and GDPR right now, it is just the tip of the iceberg and the retail industry must be ready to address the changing expectations of consumers.

This doesn’t have to be all bad. Like with most challenges, the industry is being presented with an opportunity – one that can result in even more authentic experiences that strengthen connections with customers.

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