Chief Information Officer, Exertis EMEA
Fulfillment services have become increasingly popular in Europe in recent years as more businesses look to outsource their logistics to companies like Exertis Supply Chain Services and focus on core competencies. However, providing fulfillment services in Europe is not without its challenges, particularly in the context of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The GDPR is a regulation that came into effect in May 2018 and aims to protect the privacy of EU citizens by setting strict rules for the collection, storage, and processing of personal data. The regulation applies to all businesses that process personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the business is located.
Fulfillment service providers like Exertis Supply Chain Services typically handle personal data as part of their operations, which makes them subject to the GDPR. This means that we must ensure that we comply with the regulation’s requirements, which can be complex and costly.
One of the biggest challenges facing fulfillment service providers like Exertis Supply Chain Services is the need to obtain explicit consent from customers for the processing of their personal data. The GDPR requires that consent be freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous. This means that fulfillment service providers must ensure that customers understand what their personal data will be used for and that they have the right to withdraw their consent at any time.
Another challenge is the requirement to ensure that personal data is stored securely within Europe and protected from unauthorized access or transfer abroad. The GDPR sets out strict guidelines for data security, including requirements for encryption, access controls, and regular data backups and large fines have recently been issued against well known cloud based providers for transporting personal data outside of Europe without having adequate controls in place. Exertis must ensure that we have measures in place to protect personal data.
In addition, fulfillment service providers must be prepared to respond quickly to requests from customers for access to, correction of, or deletion of their personal data. The GDPR gives individuals the right to request access to their personal data and to have it corrected or deleted if it is inaccurate or outdated.
Fulfillment service providers are also responsible for ensuring that any third-party service providers they use, such as carriers and payment processors, also comply with the GDPR. Larger fulfillment service providers like Exertis have both the resources to conduct thorough due diligence and to comply with the data residency requirements of the GDPR, however, this can be costly and time consuming for smaller fulfillment specialists.
Importantly, fulfillment service providers must be prepared for the possibility of data breaches and other security incidents. The GDPR requires businesses to report data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.
Companies like Exertis Supply Chain are becoming increasing familiar with the GDPR questions surrounding some of the more commonly known cloud web site providers. Businesses seeking to sell directly online and outsource fulfillment to a specialist service provider need to thread carefully in the choice of web-shop platform.
In conclusion, providing fulfillment services in Europe is complex and challenging, particularly in the context of the GDPR. Businesses outsourcing fulfillment activity and indeed fulfillment service providers like Exertis Supply Chain Services must ensure compliance with the regulation’s requirements for the collection, storage, and processing of personal data. Overall, providing fulfillment services in Europe requires a significant commitment to data privacy and security, but the benefits of outsourcing logistics can make it a little easier, once GDPR knowledgeable and compliant outsource partners are used.