For years, Amazon.com has been one of the top selling marketplaces around the world, selling everything from books to automotive products. With such a large customer base, they have been the admiration of many small e-commerce companies, who strive to one day be a fourth of what Amazon has become. Despite their success and fame, Amazon seems to have forgotten an important core characteristic that must continue to be a part of a company regardless of their size - Ethics. Ethics is about making choices that, though they may not always seem economically beneficial or good, are ultimately the right choice.
In recent news Anderson Cooper, a reporter from CNN, did a story on the controversy surrounding Amazon.com and books defending pedophilia. As I watched in complete astonishment, I began to see how the lack of ethics can ultimately hurt a company.
On their website, Amazon has vowed to become “Earth's most customer-centric company.” They have done an amazing job branding themselves around customer service; however, the validity of their vow is being questioned. Amazon failed to not only offer a reply to customer complaints about selling these books, but more importantly they did not even remove the book in question. It wasn’t until after CNN’s story went through that something was done about it.
Instead of apologizing to their consumers or the media, the only response Amazon offered was that they do not believe in censorship. They failed to provide sensitivity to victims of pedophiles, and protection for children from such abuse. Their lack of censorship, which as Anderson Cooper pointed out does exist, only portrayed the little interest Amazon has for their customers.
With the holiday’s approaching, and Cyber Monday being one of the most important days for online companies, the news of this issue could not come at a worse time. Many consumers have threatened to boycott Amazon, reposting CNN’s video on their Facebook, and encouraging many to do the same. This, in turn, can ultimately hurt their pocket books, publicity and brand image.
Regardless of the size of a company, ethics must always be a central pillar to the daily business decisions as well as future goals. Let this be an example to all e-commerce companies that every decision and/or product listing reflects the ethics of your company.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?