At least some degree of a corporate social responsibility presence is becoming compulsory for large brick and mortar retailers, but it is less common in smaller ecommerce companies. The continued growth of social networking and social shopping makes many ecommerce retailers ideal candidates for CSR initiatives.
CSR is an increasingly important consideration among online shoppers who are able to choose from a large variety of vendors. This trend is often dubbed ‘socially responsible consuming’, and ecommerce sites containing content identifying CSR efforts can increase sales by standing out to these shoppers.
Because different shoppers are passionate about different social issues, the Social Annex software suite includes an onsite application that allows individuals to choose which cause they would like to see helped by their purchase. This Share and Donate application, one of Social Annex’s onsite social marketing tools, gives shoppers a chance to choose which organization they would like the retailer to donate too, but that donation is contingent on their consent to share their purchase across their social networks. The shopper’s social network now sees what their friend bought and who they donated to.
A survey by the Boston Consulting group found that 67% of global managers consider “sustainability” a key to competitive success, and a 2003 study by the Institute of Business Ethics found that companies who “display their commitment to ethical practices” outperformed other companies on 3 out of 4 financial metrics and exceeded average profits by 18%.
But be warned, what is a successful CSR strategy for one business may not bear fruit for another. Brands that consumers would not associate with charitable acts may actually confuse their brand image and subtract goodwill by implementing CSR practices. The authors of a recent study found that the appeal of luxury brands widely declined when the brands attempted to connect themselves with social responsibility programs. Consumers experienced “unease” when faced with the disparity of luxury and need. In this instance the CSR tactics were not compatible with the branding.