Understanding cookies and consent in your eCommerce store

Understanding cookies and consent in your eCommerce store

With so many things to do to turn your online store into a finely tuned Ferrari, we thought we’d clear up some of the basics when it comes to understanding cookies, consent and how they affect your customers. If you’ve always been too shy to put your hand up and ask what a cookie actually is, then this article is for you.

What does a cookie do?

Cookies are a way for a website to store information about you and your visit. In an eCommerce store, they’re used for things like logging in, browsing and storing items in a shopping cart. A cookie can be something like a session token, which is a unique identifier that’s associated with your username for a limited period of time so that a customer can stay logged into your site or have their details saved for a fixed period of time while they fill in a form. 

First party cookies

Cookies that are used for logging in or keeping you logged in are known as first party cookies. First party cookies are often used to personalise the experience so the shop can remember your username, language, and login details. There are other ways of doing this, but cookies are the most common tool.

If you’ve ever visited a website and seen the term essential cookies in the consent banner, these are the cookies the website is usually referring to. First party cookies are seen as necessary cookies for website functionality and Europe’s GDPR policy doesn’t require consent for a website to use them.

Third party cookies

Third-party cookies are created by parties other than the website itself, such as an advertising network that provides adverts for different websites. Their function is to track you across all the sites you visit in order to serve you adverts related to what you’ve been looking up. 

These cookies are one of the main reasons you see products popping up on social media related to things you searched for on Google. Third party cookies collect a customer's personal data, which can then be sold to companies that create targeted ads based on this information. Because these cookies are quite invasive when it comes to privacy, they require explicit consent to use.

Consent banners and GDPR

While a consent banner seems to be all about the cookies and technical requirements for the site, it’s really referring to your privacy. First party and third party cookies use and manage data in different ways. If your shop is using third party cookies, then you’re giving your customers’ personal information to that advertising network. This is why a consent banner is mandatory  and why GDPR was brought in in the first place. 

How customers view their privacy

It’s worth mentioning that the tides are turning when it comes to privacy and it’s not just governments that are attempting to protect our data, but big tech companies too. We’re also noticing that when people have the option to share their personal data or not, they usually don’t. 

When Apple introduced its Ask App Not to Track feature, 96% of US users used the feature to stop the apps on their phones tracking them, and that one change is expected to knock $10 billion off Facebook’s ad revenue in 2022 alone. 

The trend towards privacy is being embraced because it builds trust between a customer and a brand. Just look at how many adverts Apple produced to tell everyone about the new feature in the first place. 

Using a tool like Motive Commerce Search can make sure you build that same trust between you and your own customers. Helping you create a store that provides a great search experience without the need to use your customers' personal data. Now doesn’t that sound like a win-win?