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The Ethics of eCommerce: Five Tips For Futureproof Online Retail

Today marks the last Tuesday in June – which means it’s time the final post in our Ethical eCommerce series. Over the past few weeks we’ve navigated the stormy waters of current and future trends regarding the ethics of our industry; today we take a step back to see the bigger picture and pinpoint the five key takeaways for savvy online retailers looking to maximise conversion, reputation, brand and more.

man walking past the word good painted on a wall

1. Eco-Conscious Shipping: Act Now

Plastic-free, recyclable packaging that efficiently protects goods in transit, without being excessive, is rapidly becoming the new norm. Consumers are finding it increasingly unacceptable to receive overpackaged, wasteful deliveries, and will actively call out companies who fall short of expectations in this department. The most highly coveted unboxing experiences of the future will be the ones that show true eco-ingenuity. If you want your brand to be associated with innovation in this department, now is the time to act and impress. Before long, this will become something that is very much expected of a company – perceived as the default or bare minimum – so investing in this area now may win you a loyalty boost you would otherwise miss out on.

2. It’s Time To Court The Buycotters

Buycotts (where consumers look to actively increase their spend with a company as a way of rewarding the brand or business for perceived positive behaviours) are on the rise, overtaking the influence of their opposite, the boycotters. There’s a general uptick in the idea of “catching companies being good” and many brands are aligning themselves with a clear mission, charitable cause etc in order to ensure a boost here. Buycotters skew slightly younger (median age of 43 vs. 46 for boycotters) meaning it looks set to become the norm in the future.

3. Comparison Is The Thief Of Conversion

While we all know online shopping comes with many benefits for retailers, customers’ ability to instantly shop around is certainly a double-edged sword. Online comparisons of the future won’t just be about pricing. Increasingly ethical consumers will be looking for brands which actively align with their own values, so your reputation in this respect should be immaculate. Values-led brands are increasingly popular – but are also held up to higher scrutiny. If you’re looking to build a brand on a particular ethical or environmental stance, make sure your actions match up your words at every level of your business; falls from grace in this area can be swift and merciless.

4. Platform Choice Is Key

Data security and privacy are of paramount importance and concern to online shoppers, and this worry is only increasing as big-name retailers are hit with cyber attacks and breaches that hit headlines. Choosing the right eCommerce platform is also of paramount importance when it comes to ensuring you’re building stable, secure sites, and it’s worth doing your due diligence to see how different options stack up in terms of data handling, fraud protection, SSL and admin security. A huge benefit of Shopify Plus in this respect is its fully hosted status; no need to manage your own server and the inherent security considerations attached.

5. Slow Down Resource Loops

Online retail has opened the consumer up to a world of choice and variety. We can buy goods from around the globe at the touch of a button, and reasonably expect affordable shipping and speedy deliveries. Online stores never close their doors, meaning customers can get their shopping fix at any time of day or night. The result is an increased potential for wasteful over-ordering (with the intention of returning goods) and a throwaway culture, especially with regard to the “fast fashion” industry (clothing orders are up, but the lifetime of clothing is decreasing.) Retailers can look to get ahead of the demand curve here, by producing higher quality goods, built to meet the increasingly longing for a return to quality over quantity.

The Future Of Ethical eCommerce

If the creation of this series has taught us one thing, it’s that there’s a real sea change in terms of consumer expectation in this field of modern eCommerce. Retailers are being held to high standards, openly compared and contrasted, with future customer loyalty resting on far more than price matching and delivery speed. These trends appear to be strongest in the consumer segments with the most spending power, younger generations who have disposable income and longer left to spend it. Making considered ethical choices around your eCommerce business has gone beyond lip service and box ticking. The smartest retailers are putting these considerations centre-front of their future strategies; ethical practice is an investment in your business, not a cost.


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