Four Key Ethical Issues Surrounding eCommerce


While more and more people are turning to the web to satisfy various shopping needs, some still approach purchasing products online with a degree of distrust. In many cases, people are crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.

This is understandable, given they are doing business with someone they’ve never seen and counting on words and pictures on a screen to match what they need. With this in mind, online merchants should pay special attention to the four key ethical issues surrounding ecommerce to ensure each and every customer comes away fulfilled.

Here are the four key ethical concerns most customers have.

1) Dishonest Product Listings

Your customers are counting on you to provide exactly what you offer. Showing a premium product and shipping a substandard one violates their trust and confirms online shopping is rife with parasitical individuals who care more about making a buck than ensuring customer satisfaction. Every customer opens that box with a great deal of hope and faith. It’s really nice when a product exceeds their expectations in terms of the way it’s presented and meets the need that led them to make the purchase. Baiting and switching are unethical—period. Do everything you can to make your listings accurate and as detailed as possible.

2) Lax Data Security

Ecommerce entrepreneurs owe it to their customers to protect their financial information. Hackers love to find sites with poor security protocols from which they can harvest card numbers, expiration dates, security codes, passwords, Social Security Numbers and the like. For this reason, when you’re researching how to build an eCommerce website, pay close attention to the security aspect of the platform. High-quality ones like Shopify are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant. They also use HTTPS/SSL encryption for every page (as opposed to just checkout pages). Truly ethical merchants only store customer data they absolutely need to have on hand and they guard it with multiple layers of protection.

3) Questionable Customer Service

When something goes wrong, your customer experiences a wave of anxiety and probably regrets not having purchased from a brick and mortar operation. First of all, when they deal with a physical store, they know they can return the product and get a refund or exchange immediately. With eCommerce, they have to wait for the product to get back to the source. Then they have to wait for you to apply the required remedy and get back to them. When you take a long time to respond to their queries, or your customer service representatives display indifference to their concerns, you dissuade one more individual from remaining an eCommerce consumer. 

4) Receiving Knockoff Goods

Particularly when dealing with high-end luxury items, customers are justifiably concerned about the authenticity of the goods. You have a responsibility to ensure every item you offer is the genuine article. Conduct spot checks from time to time to make sure your suppliers are not letting counterfeit product slip through. If you learn you have inadvertently sold knockoff merchandise, make every effort to set the situation straight as soon as possible. In addition to being the right thing to do, it protects you against legal action.

These are four of the key ethical issues surrounding eCommerce. It’s absolutely critical to put solid mechanisms in place to ensure your customers always come out on the right side of these situations. It’s good for your business, but more than that, it’s the right thing to do.

About Author


Wife, mother, grandma, blogger, all wrapped into one person. Lover of coffee, crime shows as well as humor. Loyalty, honesty and positivity is what attracts me to a person as that is what I try to project to others. Hard working and driven to a fault helps me help others and in turn helps myself in my daily work and life.

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