How To Ethically Collect Ecommerce Data

Collecting eCommerce data is important. It can help to improve your customers’ online experience, boost sales and improve brand image. The important part is to make sure that this data is collected ethically, without infringing any data privacy laws or regulations. It can be overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to collecting data, so this post will take you through some of the ways that it’s possible.

Which Data Is Important?

In order to know which data is important to you and your business, you should consider what your business strategies and goals are. There is no use in simply blindly collecting data without a desired outcome in mind.

For example, if you want to create personalized product recommendations, then you should collect data surrounding previous items bought by this shopper. If you want to send personalized emails, then you should track data points that can help sort them into audience segments.

Of course, you can collect overall data if you are simply looking to improve your online user experience. However this data should be managed and processed in a way that is easy for you to understand and work with afterwards. 

So let’s look at some of the ways it’s possible to gather customer data:

Customer Surveys

Customer surveys are a great way to collect first party, fully consensual data. Customers are aware they are giving away information as they are filling in the survey. You are able to ask a range of questions that relate to the specific queries you are interested in.

For example, if you suspect there may be friction surrounding the checkout process, then you may want to ask survey questions regarding this. If you want to know what trending products hte customers want to see in store, you can ask about this. Or if you want to generally understand how happy they are with the experience, you can ask broad questions.

This data can then be analyzed and used to make improvements, and inform future marketing strategies.

Transactional Data

Transactional data is that which is collected from sales at the point of sale. This kind of data includes:

  • Transaction time
  • Transaction location
  • Product purchased
  • Services used
  • Payment history
  • Payment method

This information can be used to follow trends, success of marketing challenges and overall customer satisfaction. Knowing what customers bought which items, and when, is very useful information. 

The important thing to remember is to not collect any ecommerce data that includes personal information about the customer. The information should be about the transaction itself. This can provide insight without infringing any ethical considerations.

Web Tracking

Web tracking is a classic form of data collection. Understanding how a customer interacts with your website can provide valuable information about how to improve your experience. You can learn how to refine content, layout and purchasing methods.

It is important however, if using web tracking, to let the customers know. This service should be optional, and it should be disclosed before starting. This way shoppers can accept it in advance, with the knowledge that it’s in their best interests.

Opt-In Options

Following on from this ethical data tracking, offering more opt-in options can be a great way of gathering data. Offering additional content or other discounts in exchange for information is the way this works. This kind of content can include newsletters, blogs or discount offers. 

Creating additional content for shoppers who register is a great way of growing a loyal customer database, and also understanding customers on a deeper level. It also remains fully consensual.

Social Media

Social media platforms are a great way to understand your shoppers deeper. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have built in analytics tools and real-time views of customer sentiment. These are built on metrics such as engagement, follows, messages and likes.

Having this ecommerce data available to you is a great way to ethically collect data, as analytics are already available simply through having the platform. Following this, it is the businesses duty to keep this data safe. 


Conversational commerce, and chatbots are the way that AI is helping to move eCommerce online assistance forwards. As long as there is transparency that data is being recorded via the chatbot, this is a great way of collecting data.

Chatbots receive questions, concerns and issues from customers regarding your eCommerce store. These can be recorded so the store knows what areas require attention and improvement. Knowing customer needs and concerns are key in pushing the site forwards. 

Collecting Ecommerce Data Ethically

The key to keeping ecommerce data collection ethical is to stay transparent and consensual. Do not try and hide that you are collecting data, but ask for permission and be clear about your intentions. Since your intentions should be improving the customer experience, there is nothing to hide. Using the data this way, customers will more than likely be happy to comply and share their data with you.