Retailers risk breaking GDPR by using consumer messaging apps

The majority of the UK’s leading retail chains are at risk of a data protection crisis, according to research published by workplace messaging app Yapster.

Over 50% of store managers surveyed for ‘Views From the Salesfloor’ report said they use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or personal text message as their main method of communication with their teams.

At the store level, WhatsApp (39%) was the most popular channel, followed by phone calls (31%), meeting face to face (27%) and email (17%). 7% said they tend to use text messaging and 5% take to Facebook Messenger. Just over one in every 10 (11%) said they have moved to an in-house equivalent.

In contrast, store manager contact with head office is still dominated by standard methods of work communication, particularly email (87%) and phone (56%). However, more than a fifth (21%) are now using WhatsApp and 17% are using in-house platforms including intranets and custom messaging apps.

Employee activity – both intentional and accidental – is already the most common cause of data breaches.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which becomes part of UK law on 25th May, all companies will have an obligation to prove they are aware of what data assets they have, where these are held, and how they are being used.

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Firms found to be in breach of these regulations can be fined as much as 4% of their worldwide turnover for a breach.

Yapster co-founder and CEO, Rob Liddiard, added: “In the retail world there has been so much focus on the impact GDPR will have on the use of customer data that many have not even thought about their internal communications.

“Whether permitted by head office or not, from a regulatory point of view it’s almost impossible to prove you are in total control of your data if your staff are sharing information on channels you cannot oversee.

“The good news is that there is still time to take action and the market is responding with new, secure messaging platforms so that retail teams can still communicate effectively at the store and company levels.”

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