The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018. It’s kind of a big deal as it will affect how online businesses handle their marketing activity. It goes beyond the basic SSL certificate and credit card numbers and oh…the penalties for non-compliance are steep.
In this article, we discuss those all-important questions like what GDPR is, what it says, how it will affect your business and GDPR compliance requirements
What is GDPR?
GDPR is an abbreviation for General Data Protection Regulation. It a new set of regulations adopted by the European Parliament, the council of the European Union and the European Commission. The 88 pages document with over 50,000 words intends to strengthen and harmonize new rules for how all European residents’ data will be handled and managed.
This regulation has replaced the previous 1995 privacy law which is no longer relevant in our present digital age. Its writing is as interesting as a long queue at the post office and we totally understand if you don’t want to read GDPR.
GDPR will definitely redefine what conducting ecommerce in Europe means. It will influence everything geared towards customer engagement, from the engagement tools you employ to how you use them. And truth be told, online store owners and marketers have enough on their table already.
From SEO to Social media campaigns to Social design, name it! Surely you don’t need another to-do. But you’ll be dumb to ignore the importance of GDPR compliance.
Who does GDPR apply to?
Whether your business is located in Europe or miles away from Europe in some island, GDPR applies to any business that offers products or services to consumers in Europe.
As a matter of fact, GDPR compliance is not unique to products or services sold to European customers. The regulations cut across all interactions with customers in Europe! What this means is, your tools of engagements are also affected: Facebook, Google, Shopify, MailChimp and the list goes on and on.
The new GDPR regulations will also affect online marketing businesses that carry out a direct mailing, outbound calls, email marketing, Adwords and any other form of marketing that requires you to hold your customers/visitors personal data.
Whether you are a business with one employee or a company with 10,000, GDPR applies to all companies irrespective of their sizes. While most ecommerce stores have fewer than 10,000 employees understanding what GDPR says about big and small companies is important.
GDPR treats big businesses differently from small ones. For instance, there are sections of the regulations that have specific record-keeping requirements for companies with more than 250 employees.
GDPR has many requirements that apply to everyone regardless of the company size. Let dive in.
GDPR compliance requirements:
Consent is king
Without a doubt, enactment of the new GDPR regulations will ensure higher standards in personal data protection.
GDPR’s primary area of focus is to restore data control back to individual users. This way, customers will have to power to decide who gets their personal data and how they use it. As a business you need to have a clear and concise consent; one that will signal to your customers that they have total control when it comes to consenting to your terms and conditions concerning their data. Having an unambiguous consent method will help build trust, honesty, and engagement which ultimately will boost your reputation and enhance customer satisfaction.
By giving your customers a choice, you not only ensure that your business is GDPR compliant but also helps to strengthen your business reputation.
Don’t have pre-ticked opt-in boxes
The new GDPR rule no longer accepts pre-ticked boxes as a way to gain consent from customers. Your consent must be asserting and users should have an easy option to exercise their right to withdraw consent. Pre-ticked boxes deny your customers the opportunity to give their consent actively.
Only collect data that you need
Since GDPR compliance mainly focuses on protecting users’ personal data, you can minimize your risk of exposure by not collecting irrelevant data from your customers. Ask yourself key questions. Do you need to know what company your customer works for? If you don’t need that information, then GDPR allows you not to even ask for it.
Make everything really clear
Displaying this information will come in handy in ensuring GDPR compliance. If you have any certified or verified processes, let the world know!
Avoid sneaky stuff
If you are a company with fewer than 250 employees, much of the GDPR regulations narrow down to simply not doing sneaky stuff. Avoid the massive fines that come with GDPR non-compliance by simply upholding honesty, transparency and best practices. Ensure your website and data are secure.
GDPR compliance requirements in summary.
How can you best prepare?
You will need to invest time and resources to be compliant. There are a few things that you could focus on without ado.
1. First off, evaluate your business to find out whether GDPR is relevant to you. Chances are it probably is. If your business database has any European citizen irrespective of where they live, you need to ensure GDPR compliance
2. Review your business practices and plot the actual location of all the data you’ve collected. Evaluate the kind of data you collect from your customers and audit how you are storing it
3. Position yourself strategically as a privacy-forward business. Even if you are sceptical about GDPR enforcement, it is absolutely necessary to abide by the regulations. You could start with simple acts like publishing white papers or participating on panels about privacy subjects. Such efforts can augment your brand and gesture to your clients that you take their data protection seriously
4. Engage a data protection officer. This is a pretty new personnel role. A data protection officer will ensure that your business is compliant
5. Under the new GDPR regulations, you are responsible for any third-party breaches. To be on the safe side, beware of your partners. Look at their history with regards to data and privacy. Only work with vendors that are proactive in promoting their privacy activities.
6. Invest in tools that ensure compliance. Tools that focus on Business compliance with GDPR are released daily and the pace is expected to grow even more. From tools that help with packaging up users data in response to their request to those that help with safe record keeping, technology has a wide range of tools for just about any tenet of GDPR.