While around a third of retailers will use pop-ups to request consent for cookies, the vast majority will not make cookie consent compulsory. 

These stats come from a survey of 100 retailers with revenues of £3m p.a. or more, conducted on behalf of Eccomplished.

The figures suggest there is much confusion amongst retailers over how to comply with the e-Privacy Directive, also shown in our previous survey of internet marketers

Third party cookies

One such area of confusion is third-party cookies, as 29% believe the responsibility lies with that third party. 

Third party cookies are an issue, more so since these are likely to be used for ads and targeting, and are therefore the least popular with users. 

Our consumer survey on the cookie law found that cookies used for ads and targeting are the ones that users would be the least likely to consent to:

What kinds of cookies would you be happy to consent to?

According to the ICO, “…it is the person setting the cookie who is responsible for compliance although the website has a part to play”.

In practice, the ownership of cookies on a page can go through a series of commercial and technical relationships. For example, a tag from DoubleClick administered by an agency might then incorporate several third-party tags from media networks that in turn set a whole set of cookies.

The website owner needs to establish some control over what third party tags are used on their site, so that the web user has clear and up to date information. 

Cookie audits

66% of the retailers surveyed are carrying out cookie audits, sllghtly higher than the 54% from our survey carried out in March. 

This is the first basic step towards complying with the cookie law and it is worrying that 34% are yet to do anything to comply. At the very least, a cookie audit does at least enable retailers to claim that they have taken some action. 

In addition, 67% are updating their privacy policies, and the clarity of this information is also key. 

For example, John Lewis has now moved its privacy and cookie policy to a more prominent position on the site, and this links to detailed information about cookies. 

How do retailers intend to gain consent?

According to the survey, there are three broad approaches to asking for visitors’ consent to set cookies, and retailers intend to use a combination of these options:

  • 63% (66% large and 63% of small businesses) plan to ‘take implicit consent’ when users try to access functionality or edit settings.
  • 50% (45% large, 54% small) plan to seek consent via a non-compulsory opt in.
  • 34% (45% large, 39% small) plan to use compulsory pop-ups to drive consent.

Of the experts I spoke to when compiling our guide to the EU cookie law, very few were planning to go for compulsory opt-in mechanisms.

In fact, having to implement an intrusive opt-in solution like a compulsory pop-up is something many e-commerce managers are keen to avoid, as it is likely to increase bounce rates.