The end of the third-party cookies era. What does it mean to the retail industry?

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Google Chrome the web browser with a global market share of 66% is hitting the brakes in sharing data with third-party cookie issuers. Was the decision determined by the competitive environment or merely by further strengthening companies’ hand in dealing with other advertising platforms remains unclear, though last week Google announced its plans on dropping support of third-party cookies in Chrome by the end of 2020. 

What’s certain is that Google’s decision to phase out support for third-party cookies which are typically used to track users across the web will affect everyone in the digital media and retail industry.

The fact that Google will eventually make the move cookies came unsurprising, given Google’s earlier announcements on privacy in Chrome, including its proposed Privacy sandbox. 

One of the most immediate steps in the two-year transition process will come already in February when Chrome will start limiting insecure cross-site tracking. Under the change, Chrome will start treating cookies that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only and require cookies labeled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS.

Historic precedent

In April 2017, Apple began rolling out intelligent tracking prevention in its Safari web browser. Shortly afterward, Mozilla followed the suite by implemented similar measures in Firefox. Andrew Casale, CEO of Index Exchange, told Adweek this has severely affected publishers in Germany, one of the world’s biggest media markets, where Firefox use is much more widespread than in the U.S.

What does it mean to the retail industry? 

What experts agree on is that identifying audiences online will be significantly more difficult (although not impossible) after 2022 within Google Chrome, which currently accounts for more than half of all installed web browsers, according to W3C. Most probably Google will come up with some proprietary tools to provide additional insights to its customers and facilitate them abandoning competing advertising platforms and shifting their attention to Google itself. The other important step for merchants to take is building their first-party data sets of their own, which by their turn not only match clients’ preferences but have a positive impact on business results.

The recent results of a survey by Signal demonstrate that using first-party data also translates into positive customer experience outcomes:

end of third party cookies

Even though the two-year transition sounds like a long time, few can afford to wait. We suggest starting adopting qualitative tools and techniques to focus on collecting your own first-party data in exchange for meaningful benefits with your customers.   

To make things a little bit easier, here are a couple of tools and modules we recommend using based on our long-term PrestaShop merchant experience. 

  • Product updates notifications module. This module lets customers opt-in to receive the updates they want, so you know that your notifications are going to a highly receptive audience. Moreover, it allows customers to subscribe to product updates notifications and get the newest updates to their emails. 
  • Abandoned cart module. Automatically send up to 5 personalized emails to remind your customers about the contents of their cart. This module helps to turn abandoned carts into sales in up to 4% of the cases. Easily created email templates can target different customer profiles and may be tailored to match your online store’s theme. 
  • Piwik. Piwik provides detailed reports on your website and its visitors, including the search engines and keywords they used, the language they speak, which pages they like, the files they download and so much more. It’s an open-source free alternative to Google Analytics that uses the first-party data set. 
  • Happy birthday simple module. Increase your customers’ loyalty by sending them very special happy birthday greetings. You can send simply loving words, discount vouchers or gifts.

These are just a few actions we recommend to start using to make your website data tracking more efficient. PrestaShop’s addons’ marketplace can offer many more different modules that help to either gather or analyze customers’ first-party data.

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Undoubtedly Google’s latest move indicates the advertising giant is reconsidering its role in the global advertising ecosystem and the company has financial interests in getting this right. On the other hand that by all means should be treated as an opportunity to update your processes and value propositions to create more sustainable, quality relationships with your customers to unlock further business potential.

Perhaps you might need support in getting it done right? Let’s talk!