Digital marketers in retail unprepared for cookieless future

cookieless future - are we prepared?

Retail is one of the least prepared sectors to adapt to the new privacy-first internet, with less than one in four retail marketers doing anything to prepare for the cookieless future. 

Also the majority are not complying with the data privacy laws that are now in place. 

These were some of the key findings from a recent research project that UK-based data company fifty-five commissioned with YouGov of 500 marketers across a cross section of business sectors on how they are adapting to the new privacy-first internet.

Cookieless future

Fifty-five described the findings as a ‘wake up call’ for retailers in ensuring they can continue to remain relevant in the privacy-first internet. 

The survey revealed that marketers in retail reported the most ardent support from their CEO and senior leadership for digital. 

Only 5% reported not getting buy-in from their CEOs versus an average of 8% for other industries. 

However only 23% stated their company had a fully formed strategy or were in the process of developing one. 

Nearly a quarter, 23% reported that their company had not yet started, and 32% stated that there was no intention to do so. This was less than the average for other industries of 24%.

Most worryingly, 82% of retail respondents claim to be aware of UK laws for privacy and compliance with the data laws, and yet when asked whether their customers are able to opt in or out of communications using a consent management tool (CMP), only 47% of retailers surveyed gave a positive response. 

UK law for all websites

UK law now requires all websites to provide customers with these options. It is clear that the majority of senior marketers in retail are unprepared for the new privacy-first internet and the ability to target customers based on previous browsing behaviour.

Additionally recently introduced restrictions on the ability of marketers to capture data on their website and app users’ behaviour led to marketers across all business sectors reporting in the survey that they had experienced a negative impact from these restrictions.

However, retailers reported the highest drop off in numbers within their user-based Analytics reporting.

Among those who had acknowledged the negative impact of the changes, 67% of retailers reported a drop-off in the Analytics reporting, compared with only 33% in respondents in Finance and 50% in IT and telecoms. 

This is explained through the 55% of retail respondents who have not started looking at a strategy for a cookieless future (even though they are aware they need one) or do not intend to develop one.

Richard Wheaton, MD of fifty-five, said: “The results of our research highlight the need for UK retailers to adopt new methods to continue to build meaningful online relationships with consumers. 

“The new rules around digital marketing and consent are certainly complex, varied and changing, so it is perhaps no wonder that confusion arises about what is allowed in terms of targeting customers, now and in the future. 

“However, while retailers have the best buy in from their CEOs for developing a digital strategy they are some of the slowest to take action, with less than 1 in 4 currently doing anything to prepare for the cookieless future. 

“This should be a ‘wake up call’ to retail marketers to take action today to develop an entirely new approach for their online marketing.”