Trading in the online environment means your website has no boundaries - you can reach people anywhere in the world at any time. Today there is a general expectation that websites will cater to a wide range of personal and diverse needs - from a cultural and language perspective to a disability perspective. Technology is assisting business owners and web developers to deliver on these expectations.
A large number of websites now have a language translation plugin to enable visitors to select the language they want to read. Further, the global standards set by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) for accessibility is providing opportunities for websites to be rich and interactive experiences for those with or without disabilities.
When developing your website to improve appeal from a diversity perspective and accessibility think about a number of areas:
- Do you have alternative text attached to your images?
- Are your images relevant and non-offensive to a global audience?
- Does your web developer have experience in WCAG (web content accessibility guidelines)?
- Have you avoided red and green contrasting blocks to assist people with varying degrees of colour blindness?
- Do the names of products, phrases and language used translate without losing their meaning?
When unsure, speak with a web developer who is experienced in addressing not only the WCAG compliance requirements, but also the needs of multilingual eCommerce platforms.
Being ethical and socially responsible
Consumers today are increasingly demanding of more than just great customer service. Understanding in communicating your business commitment to social and ethical responsibility is now part of the customer's buying decision process. Having a sound social and ethical business culture, and effectively communicating this, can set you apart from your competitors and gain your business new customers.
The big challenge for an online business is how do you communicate social and ethical responsibility efficiently and effectively to customers in an online environment?
This can be achieved through a number of methods:
- Online payment security by using an SSL certificate on any website that collects private or financial data
- Ensuring the website looks professional and displays imagery that matches the expectations and perceptions of potential customers
- On your website, discuss the source of inputs to the construction of your products - be transparent and engaged in sourcing ethical goods
- Align with a charity or local cause by contributing a percentage of sales to benefit the community
- Highlight the use of environmentally friendly practices, particularly packaging.
- Ensuring an ethical supply chain
- Protecting consumer data
- Providing accurate goods and services as advertised online
- Fair and safe employment for employees or contractors
- Eco-friendly or recycled packaging
- Providing a percentage of business profits to local charities
- Green carbon emissions from transportation of goods
Poll - Which of the following do you believe is the most important issue facing online business in terms of ethical and social responsibilities?
© RMIT University 2016