6 Steps to a Successful Ecommerce Privacy Policy

Online privacy is critical for ecommerce visitors and clients. The regular headlines of security breaches and inappropriate data usage by major companies have customers more vigilant than ever about their privacy protection. Posting a privacy policy statement in your ecommerce website is a considerable means to earn their confidence. But, a successful privacy policy isn’t only a disclosure statement.

An ecommerce privacy policy is the regular practice of collecting, managing, and utilizing data from website visitors. Everything you do — not what you say — is most important. What you state provides the essential transparency and awareness of visitors. Detailed privacy practices are what government agencies and consumer protection groups need when placing and enforcing compliance.

An ecommerce privacy policy is the regular practice of collecting, managing, and utilizing data from website visitors. Everything you do — not what you say — is most important.

Unfortunately, developing a privacy policy isn’t so simple for ecommerce businesses. Regulations vary among nations and among U.S. states. You can quickly spend a whole lot of money and time trying to remain on top of it all. And that is before actually implementing your privacy practices and communicating them to your shoppers.

Here are six steps ecommerce companies can take to make an effective privacy policy which can keep you, your customers, and the regulators happy.

1. Set Clear Ownership

First, identify who’s responsible for your privacy policy. It could be a person or a team. They are responsible for advocating privacy on behalf of website visitors and inside your company. That includes understanding the plethora of regulatory compliance issues, collaborating with marketing and product groups as they roll out new capabilities, and being the very clear point of contact when problems arise.

2. Review Additional Ecommerce Privacy Policies

This is the brainstorming stage. See what and how other reputable online companies communicate in their privacy policy statements. Research which systems and applications collect private data along a customer’s travel on ecommerce websites. Understand procedures for how information is commonly used or with whom information is shared.


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The trick is to use what others do to build your baseline of knowledge. Do not just copy other privacy statements. Taking that shortcut puts you in danger. What you’re actually doing on your website is probably not entirely the same as others. You need your statements to conform to what you are are using and collecting.

3. Audit Your Privacy Practices

Now that you have a baseline, you can dig into your own systems and processes. Identify what sorts of information you collect from visitors when they navigate your website and from clients when they purchase. For example, it is common for online shops to capture:

  • Personally identifiable information like name, email, shipping address;
  • Payments and financial information;
  • User names and passwords;
  • Website analytics and behavioral monitoring, using cookies.

Then you need to map where that info is stored and for how long it’s kept. Sometimes the personal information simply passes through your website but isn’t saved in your own systems, like credit card numbers which are secured by your payment gateway. You still must know that.

And lastly, how is the information used or shared with third parties. By way of instance, email addresses are used in several distinct ways. What email system is used to send triggered messages after a purchase is made? How is that different from sending out your email newsletter or promotions?

4. Write Your Privacy Policy Statement

Composing your privacy policy announcement is the next step. You can definitely start with a different site’s disclosure statement or utilize one of the numerous policy generators located online. You might also need to engage your attorney. However, you want to customize for your own practices. Again, do not just copy somebody else.

It’s also wise to keep your audience in mind. Something as complex and specialized as privacy practices can quickly turn your announcement into pages of legal jargon. Instead, organize your data clearly into short, well-formatted segments that link to additional details. Write in straightforward language which makes your policy simple to understand. Making your statement effortless to read helps build trust.

Furthermore, include email and phone contact information for privacy requests. Preferably that’s a dedicated contact (such as your solitude individual from step 1, above), not the overall support line. Readers of the policy might never use it, but their hope in you goes up significantly when they see a contact that’s responsible for privacy.

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5. Post and Communicate

Make your visitors conscious of your privacy policy. Most sites link to their privacy policy statement in the footer. That typically fulfills your compliance obligations. But visitors can easily overlook that connection, which minimizes the chance to build trust.

Prove that you collect shopper info responsibly right at the point where you ask for personal info. As an instance, add a privacy reminder when you request an email address in your newsletter opt-in type — see the”Privacy Policy” link in the example below, from Gap, the apparel retailer. Additionally, you may regularly reinforce their trust as soon as they’ve shared personal information. Be certain that you link to your privacy policy with every email that you send.

Gap comprises a”Privacy Policy” link right on its email signup form.

6. Maintain and Update

Your internet business and your advertising techniques probably change regularly. Make certain your privacy policy accurately reflects an updated view of your information practices. TRUSTe, the information privacy management provider, says it is important to assess your privacy policies at least annually, even in the event that you think that nothing has changed. That review must involve all teams that manage customer information, such as operations, computer systems, marketing, legal, customer care, and direction.

Whenever you make a material change to your privacy policy, post that upgrade wherever your policy is communicated and send an email notification to your subscriber list. Keep it short, show that you care about privacy, and connect to your updated policy. That notice might not be as exciting as the Black Friday sale. But it doesn’t need to be a stiff, either.