Monday, June 1, 2015

Thinking Allowed: The Internet and Marketing Ethics

The rapid emergence of the Internet has created both unparalleled access to global suppliers, vendors, and customers, while at the same time it has created numerous opportunities for unethical behavior. So while a growing number of consumers are embracing Internet commerce, many remain concerned about protecting their privacy (Nardel & Sahin, 2011; Smith, Dinev, & Xu, 2011). In fact, Consumers-Union (2008) reported that 72% of consumers fear that their Internet activities are being tracked and profiled by companies (as cited in Smith, Dinev, & Xu, 2011). Consumers’ privacy concerns extend beyond simply protecting their own personal information to items such as the use of cookies, which secretly gather information of the consumers’ movement on the site. In order to build a successful and sustainablstrategy, eRetailers must take steps to build customer trust in online shopping while reducing fears pertaining to security, privacy, and perceived risk (Shukla, 2014).

Shukla (2014) concluded that the appearance of the web site had a direct effect on the consumers’ perception of security and trust in the eCommerce vendor. Simply put, a visually appealing and professional appearing web presence mitigates the consumers’ perceived risk and enhances trust. More importantly, the researcher demonstrated that a significant and positive correlation exists between the consumers’ perceived risk and order placement.

However, the number of errors encountered on the eCommerce site can erode consumers’ trust and intention to purchase. Furthermore, the consumers’ intention to purchase has a significant and positive relationship with their satisfaction with the purchasing process. The lower the number of errors experienced and the higher satisfaction with the purchasing process, the higher the consumer trust and the intention to purchase (Shukla, 2014).

Therefore, eCommerce retailers should strive to develop professional, visually appealing websites, which operate error free and provide a high level of consumer satisfaction with the purchasing process. However, even if the eCommerce retailer is successful in providing this type of environment, the consumer will continue to experience some anxiety until the product is delivered (Shukla, 2014).

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Nardal, S., & Sahin, A. (2011). Ethical issues in E-commerce on the basis of online retailing. Journal of Social Sciences, 7(2), 190-198. doi: 10.3844/jssp.2011.190.198

Shukla, P. (2014). The impact of organizational efforts on consumer concerns in an online context. Information & Management, 51(1), 113-119. doi: 10.1016/

Smith, H. J., Dinev, T., & Xu, H. (2011). Information privacy research: An interdisciplinary review. MIS quarterly, 35(4), 989-1016. Retrieved from:

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