If you are an online retailer and you are wondering why other online retailers make a huge effort for Consumer Protection Week, this article is definitely one you should read!
Consumer Protection Week happens annually and it is set to occur in March this year.
This article will focus on what Consumer Protection Week is all about, and how it can help online retailers sell more effectively.
Consumer Protection Week
Consumer Protection Week is promoted annually by the Federal Trade Commission to shine a light on consumer rights, and raise awareness of what rights consumers have and how they can be enforced. Additionally, it highlights common scams that consumers have fallen victim to and how these can be avoided.
The Federal Trade Commission
publishes lots of information and tips surrounding consumer rights and these are invaluable to retailers and consumers alike. It offers free resources and email updates for consumers interested in hearing about how to better protect themselves from scams, fraud and dodgy traders online.
This information and kind of engagement with consumers is becoming more and more important as sales of online products and services increase exponentially, by comparison to sales from “bricks and mortar” outlets, as shown in this graph published by the ONS (www.ons.gov.uk).
So, with online sales soaring by comparison to bricks and mortar outlet sales, online retailers are under more pressure than ever to differentiate themselves from competitors and build an affective relationship of trust between their brand and consumers.
I have an online retail business – how is Consumer Protection Week relevant to me?
Online retailers who dedicate time and resources to promote Consumer Protection Week are mistaken if they think that this event is all about consumers. Retailers can gain huge advantages from promoting this event, because it is an opportunity to show consumers how your brand takes consumer rights seriously.
What better way to build vital trust between consumers and you as a retailer than by informing consumers of their rights and how they can use the internet to buy products and services safely?
Online retailers who promote Consumer Protection Week can use the event as an opportunity to enhance the trustworthiness of their brand.
Actively participating in Consumer Protection Week shows consumers that your brand takes consumer rights seriously, and there are many ways to participate.
One way for online retailers to participate is by blogging about consumer rights. For example, you could create an informative article discussing consumer rights in general.
Consumers have an array of rights they may not even be aware of and if a retailer highlights these in a blog they are guaranteed an interested and engaged audience – what consumer doesn’t want to hear how to shop online more prudently and safely?
UK consumers may not be aware of the fact that when they buy online the law affords them greater protections, for example a cooling off period of 14 days, within which time they can change their mind and cancel purchases of products or services.
Other rights that may be included in an informative article include the following:
- returns – if a consumer buys a faulty product, they are entitled to return it to a free post address for a full refund.
- UK Trading Standards – if a UK consumer encounters poor customer service, or shoddy business practices, they are entitled to complain to their local Trading Standards office. Often the mere threat of a complaint to Trading Standards is enough to convince a trader to treat a consumer more fairly.
- in most cases of returns within the UK, if a faulty product is complained about within 6 months of purchase, it is the responsibility of the retailer to show the product ISN’T faulty.
Retailers can also blog about tips for consumers to avoid scams and how to make purchases that are prudent, online.
Some helpful tips that can be included in these kinds of blogs include:
- always check reviews placed by other people who have made the same purchase, and be extra suspicious of retailers who don’t have any reviews.
- avoid paying for items using bank transfer, you usually have more rights in a scam situation if you use your credit or debit card. PayPal payments are also protected to a certain degree.
- If you think something advertised may be a scam – google it, as others may have been taken in by the same scam, and blogged about it.
- check out anti-scam websites like https://www.actionfraud.police.uk and www.antifraudnews.com for early warnings on common scams that have been in operation.
- check the spelling and grammar of advertisements – if the spelling and grammar is dodgy, you may be dealing with a scammer. Real retailers will ensure information presented to you is properly checked, and well-presented.
- Always check where items are being posted from, as this can affect the postage costs, for example if an item is being posted from China, you may have import taxes to pay and you may have to wait for several weeks to receive your item. Checking in advance can save a lot of hassle!
- check for endorsements and professional memberships which are often advertised on trader websites. These are a mark of quality and scammers usually ignore them. Many professional membership bodies carry out audits before quality marks are awarded and quality mark recipients will have to demonstrate how they protect consumer rights and levels of customer service.
- consumers should be aware of the organisations that are able to provide them with free and impartial, advice, help and assistance. Good examples are the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Money Advice Service.
Consumer Protection Week networking
Online retailers can also raise awareness of their brand and its trustworthiness by partnering with organisations that are dedicated to consumer rights protection. The act of partnering or forming an association with an organisation associated with Consumer Protection Week creates opportunities for retailers, which are incidental to the primary purpose of the partnership. So, this creates a win-win situation, where consumers get to find out more about their rights and about how to buy safely online and retailers get to boost their brand recognition and their advertising reach.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends that retailers consider running events to promote Consumer Protection Week with police, Trading Standards or consumer watchdog organisations.
If a short-term partnership works out, why not also consider a longer term partnership? Many retailers partner with organisations whose objectives align with their broader strategies, so a construction business may align themselves to a charity like Shelter to raise their profile and increase trust in their brand.
Consumer Protection Week is an opportunity for online retailers to consider how they can achieve excellence in consumer care and service.
By engaging with other retailers who take Consumer Protection Week seriously, online retailers will get to see how other retailers approach customer service.
For example, an online retailer may chose to emulate another retailer whose brand has been augmented by their particular approach to customer service and care.
Consumer Protection Week tends to attract the best retailers in their fields, for whom the building of trust is crucial in maintaining sales in different market segmentations.
Consumer Protection Week – why online retailers should take it seriously
The article has explained how and why Consumer Protection Week is something that online retailers should take seriously.
Some online retailers make the mistake of thinking that Consumer Protection Week is something that only concerns consumers. This is not the case.
For the online retailer, building trust with consumers can be more tricky than for the traditional bricks and mortar outlets. In bricks and mortar outlets consumers get to look at, inspect and see demonstrations of the products they wish to buy. This isn’t possible for the online retailer and as such the job of building trust with consumers can be much more difficult.
Consumer Protection Week can be used as an opportunity for online retailers to show consumers they are serious about providing a high level of customer care and service. This can be achieved by created informative useful content like blogs or videos about how consumers can make savvy, prudent decisions about buying online, or about what their rights are when they have bought online.
Strategies like this can produce long-term boosts to an online retailers brand in terms of building trust between consumers and the brand concerned.
There are lots of other ways for online retailers to capitalise on events like Consumer Protection Week to create win-win situations where consumers are educated about their rights when buying online, and how to shop prudently and avoid scams, while at the same time the brand of the online retailer is augmented. For example, building short or long term partnerships with organisations that help build that crucial relationship of trust between consumers and retailers is another great way to build a relationship of trust between an online retailer and consumers.