The Importance Of Transparency In Modern Ecommerce

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What’s necessary to build and maintain a successful ecommerce strategy and brand has changed quite heavily in the last decade. Standards have gone up, of course: we all expect faster websites, more delivery options, better product photos, more sophisticated customer support, and various other such things. But something else has arisen: a strong need for transparency.

Transparency has become so important, in fact, that a lack of it can completely undermine a business that otherwise brings a lot to the table — while its presence can elevate a mediocre company to something competitive. So what does this kind of transparency involve, and why exactly does it matter so much? Allow us to explain.

Transparency shows decency (which wins empathy)

When we talk about transparency in business, we’re talking about honesty and openness when communicating with target audiences (and the outside world in general). If you want to know what a lack of transparency means, think about every huge corporation you’ve ever seen wilfully obfuscating what it’s doing, fighting hard to spin every narrative it’s involved in.

Every business makes mistakes. It’s an inevitability. And when a given company messes up, it needs to decide how to react. Should it simply lie, claiming that someone else was responsible for the mistake or even that the alleged mistake never even happened? Should it refuse to acknowledge the issue, ultimately waiting for people to forget about it?

Make no mistake: doing something like that can work. That doesn’t mean you should do it, though. When you make a mistake in ecommerce, you should be transparent, accept the blame, and commit to doing better. As part of a broader effort to let people see the heart of your company (very useful in digital marketing, also), this will show your target audience that your business is run by decent people who care about doing the right thing. They’ll empathize with you as a result, and that empathy will lead them to support your store.

Shoppers have choices for almost every type of product

There’s hardly a shortage of online stores out there. While there’s the occasional exception stemming from one company having a practical monopoly in a certain niche, the general rule is that any given product type is available from numerous distinct sellers. And if you think that it’s as simple as choosing the lowest price, you’re wrong: quite often the pricing can be identical (or close enough that it barely matters), along with many other factors.

So let’s say you want to buy a laptop, and you can find the exact model you want for sale at ten different online stores: same price, same delivery options, same warranty terms. Which one do you pick? This is an issue that a lot of modern shoppers run up against. Well, I mentioned that being transparent wins empathy and gets people to support your company, and that edge alone can be enough to tip the scales in your favor.

It’s easier than ever to spot the fakers

As we just touched upon, your customers have access to a wealth of information, and an ocean of choice when it comes to choosing where to spend their money. Remember — transparency goes both ways, so it’s crucial to gain as many positive reviews as possible.

One of the best ways to do this? Make sure your customer service is on point. Offer as many communication channels as possible — email, phone, live messages, the works. And if managing all those inboxes sounds daunting, don’t worry — shared inbox suites like Crisp (a popular Intercom alternative) make it relatively easy, though however you choose to do it, just make sure you do.

Even poor customer reviews can be turned around by following up with a polite, personal response. Exceptional customer service, rooted in transparency, fosters trust and loyalty among consumers — a factor worth its weight in gold where ecommerce is concerned.

Each generation is more invested in corporate ethics

Ever since the internet became a utility in most homes (throughout the developed world, at least), we’ve seen a rapid rise in ethical consumerism. This has been driven by young people who grew up with all the resources of the online world at their disposal and became acutely aware of the problems facing the world as a result — and if you’re not aware of this trend in your audience, it’s a sign that you’re not paying enough attention. Integrating unique fundraising ideas for charity can align your business with these ethical values, showing a commitment to social responsibility. This improves your brand’s reputation and fosters stronger connections with your customers.

The practical consequence of this is that shoppers increasingly want to buy from brands that don’t just offer great products but also operate in ethical ways: using sustainable materials, taking good care of their employees, and contributing to charitable efforts, for instance. So how does transparency enter into this?

Well, no company has all the right answers to the aforementioned problems. How much should you donate to charity? How much can you realistically afford? If you commit to being transparent about your decision-making process — telling your target audience all about your concerns and attempts to be responsible — then you’ll earn a lot of plaudits and set your brand apart as one that genuinely cares about making things better.

Wrapping up, transparency is so important in modern ecommerce because it’s vital to have a strong brand identity and people want their retailers to operate ethically. Your customers can buy from anywhere else if you displease them. Make an effort to open up and show the humanity in your operation: it’ll help significantly in the long run.

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