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5 reasons why e-commerce sites need content moderation during the holidays

December 13, 2023 | UGC

The post-Thanksgiving period marks the zenith of online shopping each year. But as digital shopping carts fill and sales soar, this heightened activity, unfortunately, attracts a less welcome element of the holiday season: scammers.

In the spirited rush of holiday shopping, customers seek not just bargains but also trust and safety when making their purchases. E-commerce platforms riddled with scams, counterfeit goods, misleading offers or fake reviews of products not only dampen the festive spirit but also drive away potential customers, who seek safer buying experiences. This time of year more than ever, content moderation serves as a vital shield in protecting both brands and their customers in the digital marketplace.

Below are five compelling reasons why every e-commerce site should prioritize content moderation at all times of the year, but especially during the busy holiday season.

1. Online scams increase during the holidays

Across our nearly two decades of moderating content for e-commerce sites, one thing remains constant: we always see an increase in online scams around the holiday shopping period. At this time of year, there’s always a spike in customer traffic, and unfortunately, this attracts cybercriminals looking to exploit the festive rush.

Scammers often entice people with too-good-to-be-true deals and discounts. These can include counterfeit products that mimic popular brands, sold at a fraction of the price. Not only do these fake goods disappoint customers, but they also infringe on intellectual property rights and damage the reputation of legitimate brands.
Phishing scams are another threat during the holiday season. Scammers create fake websites or send out fraudulent emails mimicking legitimate e-commerce platforms. Unsuspecting customers, thinking they are dealing with a trusted site, may end up sharing sensitive information like credit card details, leading to data breaches and financial losses.

In fact, the largest e-commerce site of them all, Amazon, is actively trying to educate its customers to beware such impersonation scams. In a recent newsletter, it warned its users that this time of year often brings a surge in impersonation. The company points out certain hallmarks of deceit, including creating a sense of false urgency and slight misspellings or repeated characters in both the links they want you to visit and the emails sending the message.

“This is where effective content moderation becomes indispensable,” says Alexandra Popken, VP of Trust & Safety at WebPurify. “By vigilantly monitoring and reviewing user-generated content on an online marketplace, content moderators can identify and eliminate scam-related content.”

“Our moderators play a critical role in spotting red flags, such as suspicious links, misleading advertisements, and user complaints about fraudulent activities. Our content moderation teams are trained to swiftly identify and address various forms of scams, protecting both customers and brands from potential threats.”

2. Inappropriate content will quickly damage your brand reputation

An e-commerce brand’s reputation is its most valuable asset, and the holiday season, with its heightened consumer activity, puts a brand’s reputation under the microscope. Content moderation plays a pivotal role in safeguarding this reputation.

The presence of inappropriate or offensive content on an e-commerce platform can have immediate and lasting negative impacts. This can range from vulgar comments in a review section to inappropriate user-generated images for product customization. Such content not only offends your customers but also reflects poorly on your brand. What it tells your genuine customers is there’s a lack of oversight here, and an absence of concern for customer experience.

The speed at which content is moderated is critical in these situations. A rapid response not only mitigates the potential damage but also demonstrates a brand’s commitment to maintaining a respectful and safe online environment.

“Our approach at WebPurify is proactive,” Alex says. “Our AI system can filter out this type of content at scale, within seconds, while our human teams work in tandem to handle the more nuanced cases. Quick action and vigilance are at the heart of preserving a brand’s image.”

What’s more, content moderation isn’t just about removing blatantly harmful content. It also involves understanding the subtler aspects of a brand’s image and ethos. Moderators must be attuned to the nuances of a brand’s voice and values, ensuring that all user-generated content aligns with these principles.

WebPurify works closely with brands to develop a deep understanding of their unique values and target audience. This collaboration ensures that content moderation is not just generic but tailored specifically to each brand’s needs and expectations.

3. Don’t dismiss the negative effects of spam

In e-commerce, providing an enhanced user experience is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity. And content moderation plays a key role in sculpting this experience.
Irrelevant spam comments and off-topic user posts clutter a website, making it difficult for customers to navigate and find what they are looking for. By removing these distractions, content moderation ensures a streamlined and focused shopping experience.

Brands should also consider how much scammy or fake reviews mislead potential buyers. These false reviews can either unfairly elevate a subpar product or unjustly tarnish the reputation of a good one. Content moderators work diligently to verify the authenticity of reviews, ensuring that customers receive honest and reliable feedback.

Content moderation also enhances discoverability and relevance. By ensuring that product descriptions, reviews, and user-generated content are accurate and relevant, content moderators help customers easily find and evaluate products. This not only aids in decision-making but also improves the overall satisfaction of the shopping experience which, in turn, historically means more spending and thus revenue.

“An often overlooked aspect of user experience is the sense of community,” Alex points out. “E-commerce sites are not just transactional spaces; they can also be communities where users share experiences, advice, and feedback. Content moderation fosters a positive and respectful community environment, encouraging more engagement and a stronger connection with your brand.

“WebPurify sees content moderation as a tool to not only protect but also to nurture the community around a brand. A positive community enhances the overall user experience, turning your customers into brand advocates.”

4. Are you in compliance with advertising standards and regulations?

The engine behind the season’s surge in online sales is, for most brands, their biggest ad spend of the year. This increase in marketing efforts, while crucial for driving sales, also brings with it the need for stringent compliance with advertising standards and legal regulations.

Advertising laws and regulations vary across regions. They cover a wide range of aspects, from ensuring the truthfulness of claims made in advertisements to respecting intellectual property rights. Non-compliance can result in legal complications, hefty fines, and damage to a brand’s reputation. Content moderators play a crucial role in reviewing and vetting advertising content to ensure compliance with these varied regulations.

The rise of user-generated content (UGC) in marketing strategies adds another layer of complexity. While UGC can be a powerful tool for authenticity and engagement, it also poses risks. Content moderation ensures that UGC aligns not only with brand values but also with legal standards. This is particularly important in sectors where false claims or misleading information can have serious consequences, such as health and wellness products.

5. E-commerce sites aren’t immune from the spread of misinformation and disinformation

The rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation can have far-reaching consequences, and this is equally true for e-commerce platforms. The flurry of deals and promotions at this time of year means consumers are particularly susceptible to the dissemination of false information.

False information can manifest in many forms on e-commerce sites, from inaccurate product descriptions to misleading offers. False claims about product availability, exaggerated benefits, or incorrect pricing can mislead consumers, leading to frustration and distrust. Content moderators work diligently to verify the accuracy of product-related information, ensuring that what users see on your platform is reliable and truthful.

Again, UGC can unfortunately be a potent engine for misinformation. Customer reviews and Q&A sections are often misused to spread false or biased information, and brands relying on internal teams with limited resources to filter these might quickly get overwhelmed by the scale.

“Our moderation teams at WebPurify are adept at identifying and addressing false information at scale,” Alex says. “We ensure that the content on your platform, whether it’s user-generated or from your brand itself, upholds the highest standards of accuracy and integrity, and aligns with your values.

“At WebPurify, we understand the importance of trust in the digital marketplace. Our comprehensive content moderation services are designed to foster a reliable and transparent shopping environment, crucial for building and maintaining consumer trust, especially during peak shopping seasons.”