DSK decision: No more shipping messages?! - 5 options for online retailers

DSK decision: No more shipping messages?! - 5 options for online retailers
Published on: Jun 15, 2018
Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Munich, May 11, 2018 - The independent data protection authorities of the German federal and state governments (DSK) ruled on March 23 that online retailers may now only transfer their customers' email addresses to postal service providers with their consent. The decision applies from May 25, when the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, and affects all online retailers and mail order companies in Germany.

Customers will have no understanding for lack of communication


"This directive comes at extremely short notice. Most retailers are not at all clear what this means in two weeks. In short, the common shipping notifications from DHL, Hermes and Co. about the whereabouts of parcels may no longer be sent like this without additional consent," explains Tobias Buxhoidt, CEO and co-founder of parcelLab.

A short-term change is not possible for many retailers, so they must either expect warnings or stop shipping communications from May 25. "End consumers will have no sympathy for a lack of shipping communication, as it will permanently worsen the overall shopping experience and will be reflected in many customer inquiries and negative reviews," says Tobias Buxhoidt.

[tooltip color="blue"]According to the DSK, passing on e-mail addresses to postal service providers does not qualify as a legitimate interest under Art. 6 (1) lit. f DSGVO. It is not necessary for the protection of the interests of the online merchants, since they can reasonably be expected to send the tracking and shipping messages to the customers themselves.[/tooltip].

Five possible reactions for online retailers


"In principle, this means for online retailers that from then on they have five possibilities to react to this decision: They could ignore it, simply stop sharing their customers' address data, or build an additional opt-in into the checkout process. However, it would be better to either take over the shipping communication themselves or to control it via a white-label solution," says Buxhoidt.

1. Change nothing and ignore the DSK decision

Online retailers can ignore the DSK's directive. This option is not very advisable, as warning letters are to be expected.

2. no longer pass on customer address data

Should merchants no longer pass on e-mail addresses to postal service providers, there will be no shipping communication to customers. They would have to find the information about their shipments themselves and would no longer receive updates. Merchants would only be able to send the tracking link with the order or shipping confirmation.

However, this entails a greatly increased customer service effort, as many customers will contact the retailer to inquire about their packages. More complaints, bad reviews and an overall worse shopping experience are the consequences.

3. Add an additional opt-in to the checkout process


It would also be possible for online retailers to explicitly ask their customers for their consent in the checkout process.

"An additional opt-in field just before the order is completed is a significant conversion blocker," Tobias Buxhoidt points out. "Potential customers will abort their purchase here, as the decision deters them." Possible consequences: Loss of sales, loss of customers or reduced trust in the retailer.

4. Handle shipping communications yourself


Another option is: retailers access the postal service providers' shipment data themselves and send the shipping messages via their own systems. Amazon is leading the way here and is therefore not affected by the directive. Amazon customers will continue to experience the service of good shipping communication.

The advantage of in-house communication is that retailers control the entire customer experience themselves, even during shipping. They decide what, when and how to communicate, determine the content, choice of words and style of the messages and thus bring their customers back to their own store.

5. Working with a white label solution

If online retailers don't want to or can't handle shipping communication themselves because the effort required for a high-quality solution is too great and they lack the resources, they can send shipping messages via a white-label solution, such as one from parcelLab.

As an order processor, the service provider acts in the background as an extended arm of the retailer, so to speak. The data processing is regulated by means of an order processing contract in accordance with the DSGVO. The white label service provider is bound by instructions vis-à-vis the merchant and is thus not considered a "third party" under the GDPR. The communication takes place on behalf of the merchant.

On behalf of the retailer, the white label provider obtains the track & trace data from the postal service providers, with authentication taking place via the retailer. This data can then be used to track shipments and send a message via the merchant's domain. The order processor itself does not appear in the process. For the customer, it looks as if the retailer is communicating completely on its own.


The memo of the law firm SKW Schwarz Rechtsanwälte explains why the service of parcelLab GmbH is permissible under data protection law: http://bit.ly/2wt0jwV

If you would also like to know how the GDPR affects transaction-based customer communications and what retailers need to watch out for in the future, you can find our latest whitepaper here: https://bit.ly/2IjJV7c

We are also happy to provide you with image material, which you can use freely to illustrate the message - provided you cite parcelLab as the source: https://bit.ly/2G6ys5c


Press contact:

Vanessa Eiletz

PR & Content Manager

+49 (0)1525 75 11 813



About parcelLab:

parcelLab offers online retailers efficient technology and implementation for successful post-purchase communication - as a white label solution and with the look & feel of the company.

The goal is to provide shoppers with interesting information after checkout and especially during the entire shipping process, thus creating an optimal shopping experience. Important delivery events or discrepancies are identified thanks to real-time monitoring of each delivery and sent individualized as an email, SMS, message via Facebook or within the retailer app. In this way, companies can determine and manage the entire customer journey themselves, strengthen customer loyalty and exploit upselling potential by directing customers back to the store via specific messages.

The Munich-based start-up was founded in 2014 by Tobias Buxhoidt, Anton Eder and Julian Krenge. Today, over 25 employees work for more than 300 international retailers in 32 countries and 18 languages.


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