Aussie online retailers amongst least trusted with personal data privacy

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Despite the boom in online shopping during the pandemic, online retailers remain amongst Australia’s least trusted businesses when it comes to personal data privacy and sharing information, according to a new report from Deloitte.

As privacy awareness grows, comfort with trusting online retailers with personal data in Australia lags at 4.2 out of 10, on par with trust in the general IT industry, according to the 2022 Deloitte Australian Privacy Index – surveying 1,000 Australian consumers over the age of 18. Only real estate agents scored lower, with a trust rating of 4.1 out of 10.

Around three-quarters (74%) of Australian consumers believe the companies they interact with online collect browsing information about their online activities. Half (51%) are uncomfortable with their online activity being tracked, while 82% are unhappy with their location data being shared with other companies.

Their fears are not unfounded, with 83% of brands appearing to conduct online tracking and monitoring activities (as disclosed within their privacy policies). Despite this, only 2% of brands disclose this outside of the privacy policy – such potential data sharing, online tracking or other specific uses of data.

“What is clear is that a disconnect remains between consumer expectations and how brands collect and use personal data,” says Deloitte national privacy and data protection lead partner Daniella Kafouris.

“As a result, there needs to be a better balance between consumers finding personalisation helpful and what could be considered over-reaching.”

Improving personal data privacy trust

Despite their concerns, Australian consumers are growing more comfortable with the concept of sharing personal details in return for improved service or other benefits. Almost half of consumers (43%) are happy to share their personal information, even when aware of how it will be used in terms of personal data privacy.

While 80% of consumers see value in online personalisation, only 30% are happy with their current personalisation experiences. More than 54% of brands offer no tangible incentive to consumers – beyond access to services – in exchange for creating an account and revealing personal details.

Only younger consumers aged 18 to 34 see value in online personalisation, while those aged 35 and over see it, in the absence of transparency, as going too far.

“Working, learning, buying and even entertaining from home and online has significantly shifted the dial in positive and perhaps not-so-positive ways – from consumers benefiting from greater personalisation in their digital experiences, to genuine concerns about how their data is used,” Kafouris says.

“Brands certainly need to take their customers on a transparency journey throughout the customer experience, rather than relying on legal documents like their privacy policy, to build trust before things get ‘creepy’ and ultimately counter-productive and even damaging.”

To improve a business’ privacy perception, Deloitte offers five key recommendations to empower consumers and build trust. Businesses must provide transparent disclosures, use consistent language to describe their activities, set privacy as default, allow consumers to set personalisation preferences, and communicate privacy protections upfront.

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