You might have heard about GDPR compliance, but don’t know much about it. But don’t worry, here’s an ultimate guide on GDPR and how to ensure GDPR compliance in your WooCommerce store. We’ll start from the basics so even a beginner can manage WooCommerce GDPR compliance like a pro.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation is a regulatory law for data protection and privacy in the European Union and the European Economic Area. GDPR is an important element of the EU privacy law. It is said to be the toughest security law in the world. The regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR imposes harsh fines on those who violate its privacy and security requirements with penalties reaching tens of millions of euros. 

Why do you need GDPR Compliance?

The main aim of GDPR compliance is to protect the data of your customers and site visitors. So users will feel secure when purchasing from your store. Also, it is mandatory to carry on sales internationally, especially in the EU region. If you don’t strictly comply with GDPR laws, then huge fines will be imposed on your business.

Here are some other benefits of ensuring GDPR compliance in your WooCommerce store.

1. Increased trust and credibility

When your website is listed as GDPR compliant, your store has achieved a high level of data protection. This will increase the trust and credibility of your WooCommerce store. After all, trust is a major investment in any eCommerce business.

2. Better understanding of data flow

GDPR compliance gives a deeper understanding of user data and how it moves within the organization. This will help the sales/marketing team to use them legitimately for marketing purposes. 

3. Better data management

GDPR compliance will also help you manage your user’s data, as it provides a framework for what you can continue to collect and what you cannot.

4. Brand reputation

As you all know, privacy is a key to trust. By gaining GDPR Compliance, organizations not only avoid penalties but can also increase reputation and brand value.

With that being said let’s move to the step-by-step guide on ensuring GDPR compliance.

How to ensure GDPR compliance in your WooCommerce store?

GDPR is not just for business inside the EU region. Even non-EU companies should comply with GDPR if they are dealing with customers from the EU. Here are the major things you should take care of to achieve GDPR compliance.

  • Tell the user who you are 
  • What data do you collect?
  • Why do you collect the data?
  • How long do you hold the data?
  • And which third parties might have access to the user data?
  • Get consent from the users.
  • Allow users to access the data.
  • Allow users to download the data.
  • Allow users to delete the data.
  • Let the users know if there’s any data breach occurred.

These rules must be strictly followed. If you neglect these rules, be ready to pay millions of EUROs as a fine. Even less severe infringements can result in a fine of €10 million.

The following image will show you the 7 principles of GDPR.

Seven Principles of GDPR

Here’s the list of the biggest GDPR fines in 2021. You might be shocked to know that major tech giants like Amazon and Whatsapp have also been fined for violating GDPR. Hope you have understood the seriousness of GDPR compliance. 

Here are the different steps to ensure complete GDPR compliance for your WooCommerce store.

Step 1: Privacy Policy and T&C

Your store has access to various user data including personal information, location details, and payment details. The first step is to have a proper and detailed privacy policy for your WooCommerce store. This privacy policy must have detailed information on who you are? What data do you collect? Why do you collect the data? How long do you hold the data? And which third party might have access to these data?

You can create a different page for the privacy policy page by creating a new page and linking the custom page as the privacy policy page. What WordPress provides is a template, admins can create their own privacy policy as well. Also, it is the responsibility of the admin to ensure that the privacy policy contains all the required information, especially if they are using the template provided by WordPress.

To create a new privacy policy page:

Go to Settings > Privacy in your WordPress dashboard.

Adding new privacy policy

Click Create a new privacy policy page.

Create a new Privacy Policy Page

After updating the privacy policy page, click Publish to save the page.

New Privacy Policy on WordPress store

Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions are legally bound documents but serve different purposes. Privacy Policies are aimed to protect the privacy of your customers whereas Terms & Conditions are aimed to protect your company.

Terms & Conditions are also as important as the privacy policy. You must ensure that you have shared proper Terms & Conditions with your customers to avoid a legal dispute in the future.

To create a new T&C in your WooCommerce store:

Go to Pages > New Page.

Adding new page for Terms and Conditions

Add the Terms and Conditions in the text area.

Creating new Terms and Conditions page

Click Publish to save the page.

Now go to WooCommerce > Settings

WooCommerce > Settings for setting up new Terms and Conditions page

Select the Advanced tab.

In the Page setup option, navigate to the Terms and Conditions 

Search for the Terms and Conditions page. 

Terms and Conditions settings page

Click Save changes.

This will add a Terms and Conditions checkbox to the checkout page.

'I have read and agree terms and conditions' check box on checkout page.

Step 2: User Data Management 

Your WooCommerce site collects user data in many ways. You must ensure that the data is managed properly and you are responsible for protecting your customer data. 

Here are the different ways you collect user data in your store.

  1. When a user registers to your store.
  2. When a user comments on your page.
  3. When a user posts a product review on your store.
  4. When a user fills in contact forms in your store.
  5. When a user opt-in for marketing emails in your store.
  6. Payment information including billing details, card details, etc.

Here are the measures to take for managing users’ data in your store.

User Account erasure

There are 8 rights for the data subjects (your website visitors in this case), among which one is the right to erasure. This means that the customers should be able to request the deletion of their personal data you collected and stored. 

Here are the 8 rights for the data subjects mentioned under GDPR.

Eight User Rights Under GDPR

WooCommerce provides the following options to honor a user/customer’s request to delete their data.

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Settings.
  2. Select the Accounts & Privacy tab from the menu
  3. Enable the Remove personal data from orders on request checkbox.
  4. Also, enable the Remove access to downloads on request checkbox.

This allows users to remove personal data and access to download the data.

Account erasure requests and user account delete settings

Additionally, enable Personal data removal checkbox.

Then you can edit/modify the Privacy policy in user registration and checkout.

Lastly, add the Personal data retention period as per the privacy policy of your company.

Personal data retention policy settings

Click on Save Changes.

User profile data 

When a customer posts a review on your WooCommerce store or comment on your WordPress site, the user will have to enter, Name and email address along with their review or comments without registering an account. So you must ensure that there’s a privacy policy checkbox to let the users know about collecting the data. 

For product reviews:

  1. Go to Wooommerce > Settings > Products.
  2. Enable Reviews can only be left by “verified owners” checkbox.
Enabling reviews only from verified owners.

Verified customers have already opted into your Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions while creating an account. If you want to allow reviews from non-registered users, then add a Privacy Policy checkbox to the product review page.

User Data collected through contact forms and marketing email opt-ins

Your WooCommerce store may have a Contact Us page as well opt-in customers for receiving marketing emails. In both situations, you must get consent from the users to collect their data and use them for marketing purposes. If you are using any plugins make sure that they are GDPR friendly. 

GDPR compliant contact form vs non compliant contact form

Payment data 

Users share their most sensitive data on the checkout page where they add their payment details, debit/credit card details, etc. The best thing you can do here is to not store the payment details. If you don’t need them, don’t store them! Payment providers will store the data on your behalf, but you should ensure that their privacy policy complies with GDPR. Also, it would be better if you link their privacy policy to your privacy policy.

Payment data privacy policy

Step 3: WooCommerce Plugins and API

You might have used a lot of plugins for operating your WooCommerce store efficiently. You should ensure that all the plugins and API (Application Programming Interface) you use in your WooCommerce store are GDPR friendly. 

Usually, plugins do provide this information on their product pages. If this information is not available, contact the plugin vendors to make sure that their plugins are GDPR compliant or have taken the necessary steps.

Step 4: WooCommerce Analytics

Like every other website, you may also have enabled analytics to monitor the web traffic in your store. There are various analytics tools available, but you should check with their GDPR policy, because they are collecting user data on your behalf, so it’s your responsibility to take care of the user data they collect.

Step 5: Notify the customers about data breaches if occurred

Yes, this is very important. If there’s a data breach occurred on your website, you must inform your users within 72 hours. Let them know, about the data breach and what all data were breached. Also let them know, all steps and measures you’ve taken to protect their data.

A data breach may occur in various ways:

  • When the user data is passed to an unauthorized data processor or subcontractor.
  • When the user data is shared with a non-GDPR compliant body
  • When a third party accessed the data without the knowledge of the users. 
  • A hacker illegally breaches the network security and accesses the data.

Wrapping up:

As mentioned in this article, making your WooCommerce store GDPR compliant not only saves you from penalties but also reflects your brand reputation and people’s trust in your brand. You will also be able to better understand the user data managed by your WooCommerce store when you comply with GDPR.

I hope this article helped you in understanding GDPR Compliance and how to make your WooCommerce store GDPR compliant. If you have any doubts, please feel free to comment below. 

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