Retailing and the Internet: a review of ethical issues

Paul Whysall (Paul Whysall is Professor of Retailing at Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK.)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Publication date: 1 December 2000


The Internet has important ethical connotations for retailing. This paper briefly provides examples of retailers’ difficulties in this respect, before considering use of the Internet for ethical scrutiny of retailers by a spectrum of activists and agencies. Positive use of the Internet to publicise retailers’ social responsibility contrasts with questionable exploitation of the Web’s anonymity. The Net not only offers freedom of speech, but also widens opportunities for irresponsible activity, with low barriers to entry. Thus tensions exist between rights and freedoms, on the one hand, and abuses of freedoms, provoking calls for regulation, on the other. Ethical issues relating to e‐commerce are identified, and privacy is highlighted both as central to the ethics of e‐retailing and as a critical factor in its development. While retail interest in the Internet thus far has focused around e‐commerce, impacts on retailer image – both positive and negative – should also be recognised.



Whysall, P. (2000), "Retailing and the Internet: a review of ethical issues", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 28 No. 11, pp. 481-489.

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Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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