Track and trace: Brits uneasy at online retail snooping

shopping 1UK retailers – especially those operating in the fashion sector – are risking the wrath of their customers by seemingly tracking their every move online and then sharing that information with third-party advertisers.

That is according to the Retail Trust IndexToday – published by Empathy.co – which reveals that the top 10 brands that use the most trackers include JD Sports, Adidas, Clarks, TK Maxx, John Lewis, Selfridges, Wickes, B&Q and Iceland.

Consumers will on average be tracked by ten separate trackers, and half (50%) were used to share information to third parties for advertising. Fashion retail brands were shown to employ the most online trackers, while supermarket brands used the least.

Along with this, Empathy.co’s new consumer research shows that less than one-fifth of UK consumers (19%) trust the UK’s leading retailers. In fact, more than two-thirds (69%) of Brits feel cookies and other online tracking practices are intrusive, with a further 50% of them changing their online shopping habits to avoid retailers from tracking their purchases through cookies.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of UK consumers (60%) know online retailers track their’ online browser history, but this awareness is only furthering consumer distrust, with 50% of consumers believing retail brands are not doing enough to protect their privacy online.

In fact, over two-thirds of consumers (70%) feel their personal data is more secure when they shop in-store. with most consumers (62%) admitting would avoid online tracking activities altogether by shopping in stores, demonstrating the impact of the trust gap that is seen in the retail industry, especially for online retailers.

However, supermarket retail brands including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda ranked as the most trusted retailers with 39%, 33% and 31% of consumers trusting these brands respectively. Along with Morrisons, Co-op, Waterstones, Harrods, B&M and Wilko, they also used the least amount of trackers.

Empathy.co chief executive Angel Maldonado said: “The Retail Trust Index lays bare the extensive use of online trackers in the retail sector. The continued use of such intrusive practices is having a clear and detrimental impact on retail brands’ relationship with consumers online.

“It’s clear that consumers simply don’t trust retailers and as it becomes an increasingly digital industry, a new approach is needed to restore trust before it is irrevocably damaged.”

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