What popular UK retailers are doing with your data

The way shoppers’ personal data is handled by big online retailers is laid bare in new research.  

All online retailers ask for some level of personal information to be submitted when a customer completes an order through there store, whether it is a full name, delivery address or card payment details. 

However what differs between companies is the amount of information they store once a purchase is complete, how this information is used within the company, and whether this information is shared or sold to third parties at a later date.

To determine which company is best at protecting customer information, UK-based data management company Rightly analysed the data protection policies of 10 major online retailers, including Zara, Boohoo.com and Amazon. 

Findings reveal how retailers store data on everything from clothing sizes to internet search histories, as well as which companies pass on this information to others. 

eBay is the only company that was found to sell data to third parties, while H&M is the only retailer that does not share or sell customer data. 

As online shopping grows in popularity, it is important to be aware of how companies are using our data and if and how they are sharing and selling it. Research by Rightly of ten of the top UK retailers revealed several companies share their customers information with third party companies and one even sells the information for profit. Picture: Stock

As online shopping grows in popularity, it is important to be aware of how companies are using our data and if and how they are sharing and selling it. Research by Rightly of ten of the top UK retailers revealed several companies share their customers information with third party companies and one even sells the information for profit. Picture: Stock

How UK retailers use your data 

Retailer    

 Data stored

Sharing data?   

Selling data?   

Amazon    

Name, email, age, location, Alexa recordings and credit history

eBay   

Any information provided when signing up and community discussions

Name, address, phone number, email, IP address, gender, age, location and interests

ASOS   

Dress size, the styles you like, typical price range, address, order history and search history

Zalando   

Name, email, address, phone number, order numbers, brands and styles they’re interested in. Social media information if used to login

Boohoo   

Name, occupation, gender, email address, location, payment details and orders, web browser and version

Missguided   

IP address, cookie ID, browsing data, email, location, payment details and purchase history

Zara   

Name, language, country, email, payment details, orders and returns, browsing data, tastes and preferences 

Nike   

Name, email, address, gender, hometown, date of birth, purchase history, payment details, weight, height, fitness activity, interests and preferences 

Shein   

Name, address, phone number, email, height, weight, payment details, type of browser, IP address and location

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Amazon

What information do they collect?

Online retail giant Amazon collects some basic information, such as name, email, location and age from its customers. 

It also stores voice recordings from when people speak to their Alexas in their home and information about internet-connected devices linked to the smart speakers.   

Other important information it gathers from users includes credit history from credit bureaus ‘to help prevent and detect fraud and to offer certain credit or financial services to some customers’, delivery and address information, purchase details, search results and links. 

What is automatically collected?

Some information is not instantly saved by the retailer, but some details are automatically stored such as: what you buy and search on Amazon, everything you have downloaded, streamed or viewed and your interactions with Alexa.

Other details include any of the information members put on their profile, reviews they leave, their wish lists and their watch lists.

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

The data collected at Amazon is in fact shared with a variety of different sources, including advertisers, publishers, social media networks, search engines and advertising companies. 

eBay 

What information do they collect?

When you use eBay services, make a new account or provide information through an online form the company retains the information and the data you provide.  

Information from members participating in online community discussions or interacting with others will also be stored. 

Does it collect from other sources?

Compared to the other retailers assessed, eBay was also found to collect information from other sources such as eBay Inc. corporate family members, credit agencies and bureaus as well as data brokers.  

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

Unlike the other companies, eBay was also found to be selling its customers data to third party companies and organisations within the eBay group such as Skype, StubHub and PayPal. 

The organisation claims it does this ‘to provide customer service’ and to its customers with ‘personalized advertising and marketing communications’. 

When approached for comment, an spokesperson for eBay directed Femail to visit their privacy policy on its website. 

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As an ever-expanding business, Amazon is frequently buying and selling new assets and expanding into different areas of retail and technology. 

In these cases, they will give away your data to the new businesses or services.   

However, they do not sell the data they hold to external companies. 

Their privacy policy states: ‘We do not associate your interactions on unaffiliated sites with information which on its own identifies you, such as name or email address’. 

Femail approached Amazon for comment and representative directed us to the privacy policy on its website.

H&M

What information do they collect?

Fashion retailer H&M collects its customers’ name, address, phone number, email, IP address, gender, age, location and interests.

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

But, unlike the others, H&M was the only company to not sell or share any of its customers information. 

The clothing company provides the most amount of protection for its customers by not passing any information on to third parties outside the H&M group – which includes ‘media agencies and technical suppliers for distribution of physical and digital direct marketing’.

H&M did not respond to request for comment. 

ASOS 

What information do they collect? 

Filled with hundreds of thousands of items of clothing and gifting ideas, it is no surprise that ASOS would collection data about your dress size and the styles you like. 

But, as well as this, it also stores your typical price range, address, order history and search history.  

The company also collects information about the social media accounts you link to the site when you sign you. 

Alongside these details it also retains ‘how you might share your likes with your friends and how you might influence others with your style’.

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

ASOS does not sell your data but it does share it with companies they deem an ‘essential part’ of them being able to provide their services. 

Such companies include marketing agencies, advertising partners and website hosts who they say ‘help us run our business’. 

The retailer also shared personal information with affiliate sites which help them ‘reach out to potential new customers or promote our products on their websites’. 

Lastly, they also provide third party organisations with ‘aggregated and anonymised’ information and analytics about their customers – who they claim are unable to be identified through the data. 

ASOS did not respond to a request for comment. 

Boohoo 

What information do they collect?

Online-only retailer Boohoo will store your name, occupation, gender, email address, location, payment details and orders. 

In addition, it will also remember your social media accounts if you log in using that information. 

Also included in the data store is how and when you use the site, what kind of browser type and version you use – for example Google Chrome or Safari – your interests and preferences, everything you search for and ‘other communication data’.

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

Similar to most of the online retailers assessed, Boohoo was found to store your data and share it but did not sell on the information for profit. 

Data is shared with business partners and third party companies to provide ‘marketing and advertising services’.  

Their privacy policy states: ‘We use a range of analytics and targeted advertising tools to display relevant website content on our website and online advertisements on other websites and apps’.

Boohoo did not respond when approached to comment.   

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Zalando

What information do they collect?

As with most online e-commerce sites, Zalando collects customers’ name, email, address, phone number, order numbers, brands and styles they’re interested in.

If they connect with social media – for example signing in using a Facebook account – any public profile information can be stored by the organisation. 

The company also collects your age, gender and region from ‘external advertising partners’. 

Information about the device which you are using to shop with the company is also collected automatically. 

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with?  

Zalando will not sell your data but it will share it with ‘advertising partners’ to create ‘personalised advertising’ for every customer on the company’s services.   

 Google, Facebook, Adobe, Bing, and Econda all use marketing cookies on Zalando for advertising purposes. 

Zalando did not respond when approached to comment. 

Missguided 

What information do they collect?

Fashion company Missguided will retain information about your IP address, cookie ID, browsing data, email, location, payment details, purchase history when you shop with them. 

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

Again, while they do not sell your data on, they do share it a list of other third party sites including Struq, Google and Klarna.  

The company privacy policy says: ‘We will use this information to make the sites and the advertising displayed on it more relevant to your interests. 

‘Please note that third parties including, for example advertising networks, may also use cookies, over which we have no control’.

In other words, the third parties with which your information is shared can also have third parties they share data with.

Missguided did not respond when approached to comment.  

Zara 

What information do they collect?  

High street fashion brand Zara will collect your name, language and country, email, payment details, information on your orders and returns, browsing data, as well as your tastes and preferences. 

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with?  

Data collated when using the Zara site will be shared with advertising and marketing related partners and service provides. 

While they do store your data and share it, they do not sell it on for profit   

In its policy, the company also notes: ‘Some advertising and technology partners may also collect personal data when you use our platform’.

Zara did not respond when approached to comment.   

Nike  

What information do they collect? 

Sports brand Nike collects a large amount of its customers’ personal information including: Name, email, address, gender, hometown, date of birth, purchase history, payment details, weight, height, and body measurements, fitness activity data – through information provided by users – interests and preferences. 

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with? 

Nike will pass on your data for business practices such as advertising but states it does not sell it. 

The information is only given to ‘service providers processing personal data for business purposes on Nike’s behalf’.

Nike did not respond when approached to comment.   

Shein

What information do they collect?  

Shein, which sells shoes and clothes, gathers every customers name, address, phone number, email, height, weight and payment details.

It also automatically stores information about the type of browser and version a customer uses, the computer and connection they browse on, the IP address and whether they accessed the site on their phone and whereabouts in the world. 

Do they share for advertising purposes? Who with?  

The company uses Google Ads, which it refers to as ‘third party advertising partners’ which they may share your personal information with. 

Shein did not respond when approached to comment.   

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