In this week's episode of Retail Right Now, Total Retail's Caitlin Sullivan and Joe Keenan discuss the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including the implications for retailers’ businesses, steps they can take to ensure compliance, and more. Make sure to check out this video, as the regulation goes into effect a week from today (May 25), and fines for noncompliance are severe.

Here are five tips from Russell Marsh, managing director, Accenture Digital, on how retailers can prepare their businesses for GDPR:

  1. Allocate responsibility and be prepared. The danger for U.S. retailers is allowing GDPR compliance to fall through the cracks. Retailers around the globe must consider GDPR compliance as an organizationwide issue that affects everyone from C-level executives to those on the front lines. The executive level should take ownership of the change to ensure every part of the organization collaborates and develops a compliance framework. Employees across the whole company need to be prepared to support these changes.
  2. Drive company culture by sharing a reminder. By this point all employees will have been trained on best practice data processes. However, GDPR will require U.S. retailers to put transparency and data ethics at the center of their corporate culture. To keep GDPR at the forefront for employees, retailers should continue enterprisewide training and create centers of excellence to develop and share best practices.
  3. Reinforce the customer benefits. Through GDPR, consumers have the right to request all the data a company holds on them, as well as advise on whether this data should be deleted or transferred. For some retailers, this poses an opportunity to explore new options in place of legacy technology systems — e.g., single online portals. Consumers have been bombarded by emails about privacy policy updates of late, but the brands that will be successful in obtaining this consent are those that view the GDPR "process" as an opportunity to engage with people. Reminding customers about the benefits of the regulation will help to avoid customer frustration.
  4. Don’t panic, and secure customer consent. With only a week to go, retailers need to trust that their organization is already well on the way to achieving compliance. GDPR ushers in an attitude of “If I give you consent, this is what I will gain.” As such, this will start to drive how consumers think about which brands they’re willing to share their data with. Retailers in the U.S. have an opportunity to build trust through transparency and the responsible use of consumer data.
  5. Remember May 25 isn't an end point; it’s the start of a new way of working. Retailers should start to think now about how they're going to engage differently to develop consumers’ trust about how they're using their data. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future. GDPR isn't just for today’s data, but for the future of data collection as well. Take facial recognition and artificial intelligence (AI), for example. Facial recognition can influence how retailers connect with consumers through social platforms like Instagram or Facebook, while AI offers new ways for retailers to improve the consumer experience. Innovative retailers will incorporate AI as a way of business rather than a one-off tool. Building GDPR into your data innovation process can help to support the future of retail experiences.
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