Wal-Mart and Privacy: How to Communicate with Consumers

Leave it to Wal-Mart to lead the way. From changing how laundry detergent is sold to shocking the business world by endorsing the concept of employer mandates on health-care ,Wal-Mart has been showing some much needed leadership on a wide front of important issues.

Now Wal-Mart is taking the lead on harmonizing privacy policies across their eCommerce and bricks-and-mortar channels. This is nothing short of revolutionary in that by encompassing both the on-line and bricks-and-mortar interactions between the consumer and the retailer consumers will start to have clear and consistent expectations set about how the information exchanged between the consumer and retailer will be used, reused, packaged, and sold.

In a clear example of doing right by their customers, Wal-Mart publicized the new privacy policy both on their website and in their stores; 30 days prior to its effective date and 30 days after. Additionally opted-in consumers will receive an email from Wal-Mart informing them of the new policy. Further integrating the channels, Wal-Mart consumers can use the new Privacy Preference Center to outline how and when they wish to receive communications from Wal-Mart and its affiliated partners.

As big-box and boutique retailers expand their offerings across all channels, they ought to take a long hard look at taking the time and effort to create unified privacy policies that clearly and forthrightly spell out how they will use the information gathered during browsing and transactions to further tailor their offerings to the consumer, providing guidance on channel usability and utility, and clearly spelling out what 3rd parties will have access to this information, why they will have access, and how to opt-out that information sharing, except where prohibited by law (e.g. reporting of accounts and payment history to CCRAs)

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