EU Survey of Senior Retailers Reveals UK is Less Prepared for GDPR Compliance than Germany or France – and More Likely to See Data Transfer as a Threat

April, 24, 2018

  • 46 percent of senior retail executives in the UK say their organisation will not be fully compliant with GDPR when the law comes into effect – higher than in Germany and France

  • 71 percent in the UK believe that data transfer poses a ‘significant threat’ to their organisation – higher than in Germany and France

  • Expert warns, however, that the impact of GDPR will be marginal unless there is a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour

LONDON, 25 April 2018 – UK retailers are not only lagging behind Germany and France in the race to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, they are also more likely to view data transfer as a significant threat to their organisation. This is according to an Oliver Wyman survey of 277 senior retail executives in the UK, France and Germany designed to explore the risks and opportunities associated with GDPR, which comes into effect on 25 May.

Almost half (46 percent) of the UK respondents in the survey by the global management consultancy acknowledge that their organisation will not be fully compliant (compared to 32 percent and 39 percent in Germany and France). Seventy-one percent see data transfer requests as a significant threat (compared to 65 percent in Germany and 56 percent in France).

Only 17 percent of executives across all markets view GDPR as purely an opportunity, yet 78 percent report that owning, managing and working with customer data plays an important role in their business, More than a quarter (26%) say it is “fundamental to everything they do as a business.

Duncan Brewer, Retail and Consumer Goods partner at Oliver Wyman, says: “While UK retailers are taking GDPR seriously and investing resources in the lead up to the enactment of the EU regulation, it appears they are claiming to be less prepared and more likely to view the legislation as a threat than those in other European markets. 

“Across Europe our research shows that senior retail executives are very concerned about data deletion and transfer. Yet it would require a fundamental change in consumer behaviour for retailers to be inundated with customer requests as we are seeing little concern for privacy among consumers. Most consumers are likely to continue to offer their data in exchange for improved services and convenience.

“Unless GDPR leads to a significant shift in consciousness around data privacy, retailers will have spent a significant amount of time and effort building offensive and defensive strategies for minimal benefit.”

On average, the survey shows that organisations are devoting 10 employees, including 6 new hires, to GDPR in an effort to ensure compliance. Fifty-six percent of executives say their companies are introducing stronger data security measures to increase customer’s trust and 40 percent are exploring price and service incentives for customers who don’t request that their data is deleted or transferred.

About the research

Oliver Wyman surveyed 277 senior executives within the retail industry in the UK, France and Germany, with an equal spread of respondents across each market.

About Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 50+ cities across nearly 30 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 4,700 professionals around the world who help clients optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.