Preparing for a Cookieless Future: Maximising First-Party Data for Your eCommerce Site

27 February 2024

Third-party cookies are crumbling, but don't worry. The future belongs to first-party data. Collect information directly from your customers to personalise their experiences, target your marketing, and build stronger relationships. This shift is an opportunity to create a more customer-centric, privacy-focused marketing strategy.

The digital marketing landscape is rapidly evolving, marked by fundamental changes in how we track website visitors. Third-party cookies, which have long been the backbone of targeted advertising and web analytics, are being phased out. While the concept of a "cookieless future" might sound daunting to marketers, there's no need to panic! This shift marks a tremendous opportunity to build stronger relationships with your customers. The future lies in first-party data – information you collect directly from the people who interact with your website.


The Changing Data Landscape


Let's clarify the terminology:


  • First-party data: This is your most valuable asset. It includes information gathered directly from your website via customer profiles, email subscriptions, surveys, and transaction history. First-party data is inherently reliable, accurate, and fully within your control.
  • Second-party data: This involves acquiring another company's first-party data either through a direct exchange or purchase from a trusted partner. Think of it as strategically collaborating with a like-minded business.
  • Third-party data: This category of data is facing increasingly strict limitations. Purchased from aggregators who compile it across numerous websites, this is where declining consumer trust is driving significant change.


Why the shift? Heightened awareness of data privacy has motivated stricter regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). Additionally, major browsers like Google Chrome are actively restricting how cookies function.


Preparing Your Site for Change


Begin by conducting a thorough audit of how cookies are currently implemented on your eCommerce website. Do you rely heavily on third-party trackers for advertising, site analytics, or specific functionalities? With this inventory in hand, prioritise actions within these critical areas:


First-Party Data Collection


  • Email Marketing: Craft newsletters that are too good to ignore! Offer exclusive content, sneak peeks, or special deals for subscribers.
  • Account Incentives: Encourage account creation by providing benefits like loyalty point accrual, members-only discounts, or wish list options.
  • Interactive Engagement: Enhance customer insights through engaging quizzes, "style finders," or surveys. Remember, these tools also make the shopping experience more enjoyable.
  • Loyalty Programs: Design a loyalty program offering tangible rewards, access to exclusive experiences, or even personalised product bundles. Communicate its benefits transparently to maximise participation.


Use a CDP


Invest in a robust Customer Data Platform (CDP). Find a solution that seamlessly integrates with your eCommerce platform, centralising and making sense of your rich first-party data.


Trust through Transparency


Prioritise clear, direct communication regarding how you'll use customer data. Emphasise the tangible benefits customers gain in exchange for sharing information. User-friendly, legally compliant consent options are non-negotiable.


Alternative Tracking Methods


Server-side tracking and fingerprinting have gained attention as potential ways to circumvent cookie limitations. Here's what you need to know:


  • Server-side Tracking: Data is transmitted directly to your website's server before being relayed to analytics or advertising platforms. This approach aids in bypassing some cookie blockers.
  • Fingerprinting: Creates a unique identifier based on various device attributes (operating system, fonts, etc.). While less susceptible to blocking, fingerprinting carries significant privacy concerns.

Important Note: Prioritise long-term reputation and brand integrity throughout your data strategy. Consider not only the practical implications, but also the ethical considerations and long-term impact on customer trust of each approach. Legal compliance with data protection regulations is also paramount.


Putting Your Data to Work


Now comes the rewarding part! Harnessing first-party data enables you to:


  • Personalise Shopper Journeys: Design tailored product recommendations, targeted content, and an overall sense that each customer enjoys a unique experience.
  • Precision Targeting: Segment your audience strategically based on their demonstrated interests and behaviours, ensuring marketing messages resonate.
  • Customer Retention: Your data illuminates your most valuable customers. Prioritise strategies to cultivate their loyalty through meaningful, targeted attention, personalised offers, and ongoing relationship-building.


What are Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)?


Imagine a central control panel for all the information you have about your customers. That's essentially what a CDP does. It takes data from all sorts of sources – your website, email campaigns, social media, even offline interactions – and puts it all in one place. Every customer gets a detailed profile that combines purchase history, email preferences, the pages they viewed recently... basically, anything relevant to knowing them as an individual.


CPDs worth considering:


  • Klaviyo - More marketing-focused with solid personalisation.
  • Segment - Great for real-time audience engagement.
  • Bluecore - Enterprise-level CPD that offers AI-powered prediction.


What are Personalisation Engines?


Personalisation engines as a way to customise the entire on-site experience. They can suggest useful content, adapt website banners based on interest, or even offer unique promotions, creating a feeling of "this site knows me!". Tailored content and recommendations make shopping easier and more enjoyable for customers. It shows you care and helps them discover more.


Personalisation Engines worth considering:


  • Salesfire - dedicated tools specialising in real-time, on-site personalisation designed to boost conversions.
  • Nosto - Strong Shopify and Magento integrations, focuses on recommendations.
  • PureClarity - AI-powered recommendations and search personalisation.




While initially perceived as disruptive, the shift away from third-party cookies presents an opportunity to strengthen customer relationships. Smart businesses will strategically use first-party data to boost customer loyalty, drive engagement, and create a sustainable business model aligned with the future of privacy-focused marketing.


Need Help?


Let the experts at Absolute Design guide you through the cookieless transition. Contact us to optimise your first-party data collection and unlock new marketing opportunities.



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