Transform retail experiences with consent and preferences

The retail industry has its own unique set of opportunities that an effective consent and preferences strategy can unlock. Learn more about how your organization can achieve a competitive advantage

Ashlea Cartee
Senior Product Marketing Manager, OneTrust Consent and Preferences
March 10, 2023

Closeup view of retail customer using tap to pay function with phone

Retailers know the value of personalized offers and communications based on customer preferences more than most. They’re also acquainted with buyers being more aware of data collection practices now than ever before. With governments enacting new privacy and data protection regulations in jurisdictions worldwide, retailers must now balance strict compliance requirements while also delivering a personalized customer experience. 

That’s not all. Apple and Google have both issued new guidelines on data collection, requiring maximum transparency in retailer apps with declarations for third-party trackers and personal data collection policies. To further complicate things, the deprecation of third-party cookies is looming on the horizon. In 2024, third-party cookies are going away for good, which will eliminate tracking, data collection, and ad personalization and targeting. While consumers enjoy the benefits of personalized communications, they are increasingly concerned about how companies use, store, and secure their data. Brands must establish trust and demonstrate a transparent value exchange to convince consumers to share their data.

This evolving world of strict data compliance and protection might seem daunting. But it’s also an opportunity to deliver engaging customer experiences and build trust across the various touchpoints with your brand. From engaging users from their first visit to your website, implementing creative in-store strategies to providing easy post-purchase experiences – adopting a consent and preference management strategy can help you capitalize on that opportunity.

Getting started now is paramount. Taking a wait-and-see approach will only diminish your capacity to market to customers and monetize interactions. 

How can you navigate these challenges to build trust with customers?

Retailers interact with customers across physical and digital properties with numerous data collection points. These include requesting consent and preferences at the first website or in-store visit, tracking nurture activities and post-purchase interactions, and storing purchase data, history, and payment methods.

To effectively manage this data collection, you need to understand how various regulations define consent. One size does not always fit all. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as amended by the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) on January 1, 2023—are the most prominent privacy laws and regulations governing how companies should handle customer data. It’s important to keep track of the applicable regulations for your business and ensure that your processes address any possible nuances that are present.  

Here’s some ways below that your business can generally cover its compliance bases: 

  • Give consumers a clear opportunity to provide their consent, whether it be an opt-in or opt-out form
  • Keep a clear record of consumers’ consent, including how they consented, for what purposes, and when
  • Be transparent about why your company is collecting data, e.g., for personalized recommendations
  • Always include a link to your Privacy Notice in your CMP
  • In addition to informing your customers about the purpose of data collection, share the scope, i.e., what data will be collected
  • Ensure that you set up your cookie banner or CMP correctly to honor consumers’ requests completed through their browser settings, such as using Global Privacy Control (GPC)

While achieving compliance is critical, providing a simple way for customers to navigate consent and preference management processes is also essential. Include a simple explanation of who is processing the data, what data is being processed, and why it’s being processed. This information can be instrumental in helping customers understand the value they will receive, increasing the likelihood of them sharing data.

Harness the value of collected data for preference management-based marketing

Personalized experiences are the future of retail. They require the effective use of collected data to develop customized campaigns that are non-intrusive and valuable for customers. 

Cookie banners are the first step towards this. Most often, when a visitor hits your website for the first time, they are considered “unknown”, meaning they haven’t interacted with the brand before and the brand likely doesn’t have an identifier to validate who the individual is. A cookie banner, also known a consent management platform (CMP), allows an individual to opt-in or out of purposes such as advertising and analytics, while also educating them about how and why their data is being collected.  

Once your CMP is up and running, the next step is to evolve your program to implement a full end-to-end consent and preference management system. What’s the difference? Moving from basic CMP to a modern consent and preference management solutions enables responsible data acquisition and activation. It enables businesses to collect and connect the dots between consent, preferences, and durable identifiers such as email addresses, collected across a range of user journeys. This data is then integrated and activated across your business, leveraging pre-built integrations and connectors to enforce and govern consumer privacy decisions. This allows businesses to focus on driving data-driven innovation while automating the compliance elements of data capture and activation. 

Here are three ways you can meet evolving customer expectations for personalized experiences:

  1. Design a CMP for unknown consumers to opt-in or out of tracking or advertising purposes, and a preference center for identified individuals that promotes engagement by inviting customers to choose communication frequency, indicate product interest, select communication channels, and more.   
  2. Extend initial engagement into brand loyalty by consistently delivering relevant and timely communications about products that interest them. 
  3. Keep track of your data to maintain high levels of engagement by ensuring customers get the most personalized, relevant, and valuable experiences with your brand.

Sharing this data with your marketing tech stack and activating this consented data through first-party data strategies is how consent and preferences can bring the most value to your organization and your organization. 

Design an effective consent and preference strategy for the retail journey 

Developing your consent and preference strategy requires analyzing how consumers interact with your brand throughout their journey and identifying how to deliver the best possible experience. To ensure consistent customer experiences and delivery of personalized marketing campaigns, you must aggregate data collected from websites and in-store visits into a single repository. Here’s a look at how you can engage with customers across four stages of the retail journey: 

  • Initial website visits should provide a seamless, privacy-first experience that offers transparency and assures value in exchange for sharing data. At this point, users are generally “unknown” as it’s their first interaction with your brand – and should clearly have the ability to opt-in or out of their data being used for analytics or targeted advertising. The website should emphasize the purpose of data collection and that you will only use this data to help enhance customer interactions with your brand
  • Initial in-store visits may be the first touchpoint, making this an opportunity to obtain a customer’s purpose-based consent to receive emails or SMS for promotions and special offers. If it follows a website visit, offer the option to opt-in to a loyalty program when they make a purchase. At this point, users are considered “identified”, as they’ve provided information such as their phone number or email address to identify them in your database. 
  • Nurturing relies on the most current preference center data and begins after someone visits a website or physical store or makes a purchase. Update the preference center data for frequency, format, or communications content based on multiple visits to a specific product page, in-store visits, or after a purchase. Notably, allowing subscribers to use the preference center to “opt down” into less frequent communication can reduce total unsubscribes.
  • Post-purchase communications include marketing messages around similar or complementary products, or service-related information about delivery updates and billing. These types of communication do not require consent, as they are considered “legitimate interest.” 

Create personalized touchpoints encouraging customers to interact with the preference center to help build loyalty, lower opt-out rates, and keep customers engaged with your brand for initial sales and product add-ons. Doing this also strengthens compliance with data collection, privacy, and protection regulations, helping avoid penalties and fees. 

How can a consent and preference management system help?

Each stage of the consumer journey requires specific types of communication from retailers. Customers must provide their consent and indicate preferences for what communications they’d like to receive and how. Further, companies need a way to automate and streamline how they comply with data privacy and protection laws. When companies deploy a consent and preference management system, they can expect to see an impressive ROI. In 2022, the estimated ROI for consent and preference management was just over $46 for every $1.21 spent.

 Deploying a consent and preference management system provides retailers with numerous benefits:

  • Build trust and provide mutual value exchange by providing a way for customers to set communication preferences. 
  • Automate communications at each stage of the consumer journey to reduce manual work. 
  • Provide purpose-based transparent data privacy, security, collection, and usage information to build trust and support compliance. 
  • Deliver relevant content, products, services, and offers to various audience segments. 
  • Ensure a uniform experience across multiple channels and devices with defined in-app experiences compliant with Google’s and Apple’s data collection declaration requirements. 
  • Integrate with other marketing platforms to maximize the effectiveness of first-party and zero-party data when building out consumer profiles. 
  • Curate re-marketing efforts with social media channel integrations.

Learn more about OneTrust Consent and Preferences

OneTrust Consent and Preference Management helps companies use customer data to drive personalization, segmentation, and higher-performing campaigns. Real-time dashboards and analytics inform customers how to measure, report, and improve data-driven decision-making.

Learn more about how you can meet compliance requirements while building consumer trust and loyalty in retail with the white paper – Transform retail experiences: Building trust in the age of modern privacy.

You may also like


Consent & Preferences

Compliant omni-channel automation: How to be a responsible marketer?

Join this webinar and learn how to create a compliant privacy-first marketing program that respects customer consent across multiple channels.

October 12, 2023

Learn more


Consent & Preferences

Honoring consent throughout the data lifecycle

Watch our webinar and learn how consent can enrich your data while helping you build a brand your customers can trust.

October 04, 2023

Learn more


Consent & Preferences

Adobe + OneTrust: How to market responsibly with consent-based experiences

Join Adobe and OneTrust as we discuss best practices for deploying consent-based marketing campaigns and privacy-first experiences.

August 29, 2023

Learn more