Ecommerce: is your content misleading?

eCommerce
Tuesday 9 July 2024 
Elsa Benaiche Elsa Benaiche
3 minutes
Ecommerce: is your content misleading?

Deceptive content is increasingly frequent on eCommerce sites, with 40% of websites1 misleading shoppers.

This content can lead to sanctions and a negative impact on businesses: negative brand image, increased product returns, dissatisfied customers…

Read the definition of misleading content and examples of this content in the eCommerce industry.

Misleading content: definition

Misleading content is any content that « misleads2 » or « spreads confusion2 » among shoppers. This can include images that do not represent the product, incorrect or missing information, or fake reviews.

In the eCommerce industry, this type of fake content is increasingly prevalent. According to the Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control Directorate, the number of breaches3 identified on eCommerce sites is increasing3 and, in 95% of cases3, injunctions to professionals result in compliance upgrades.

Ecommerce sites: examples of misleading content

Product photos

Photos are « the key information element4 » that visitors can use to evaluate a product.

misleading photos

However, if photos are blurry or poor quality (bad lighting, poor visibility of details, colors differing from the reality…), they can mislead shoppers and result in frustration. 50% of shoppers5 are discontented if the product they receive does not match the product they saw online.

Similarly, photos that have been over edited will give a false idea of a product. 69% of shoppers6 are worried about the increasing use of fake photos in eCommerce.

To avoid any confusion around your product page it is important to present photos that honestly depict « the product's appearance »7 and to integrate elements to help the shopper better visualize the product: including a detailed product dimension table, or a size correspondence table, situation scenario photos…

Product descriptions

Product descriptions are another very important element of the purchasing process. They are the last piece of content8 the shopper reads before buying.

The problem is that some descriptions are incomplete and do not inform the shopper sufficiently. 10% of eCommerce websites9 have problematic product descriptions… This lack of information can result in shoppers abandoning their online carts and can send them to a competitor brand.

Some product descriptions exaggerate « the benefits of the product » or include erroneous information such as fake labels or dishonest product origins. The unreliability of information can leave shoppers feeling duped when they receive the product.

To avoid these negative impacts, it is important to write product descriptions containing detailed and reliable information: sizes, materials, main benefits… and providing key elements to enable the shopper to better understand how the product is used and how it can improve their lives.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews are an effective form of social proof and 87% of shoppers10 read reviews before buying a product.

This has resulted in many eCommerce businesses posting fake customer reviews or editing existing reviews to increase their sales. In 2023 170 million customer reviews11 were identified as « misleading » and subsequently deleted.

Fake Customer Reviews

This practice is increasingly worrying to shoppers. 75% of online shoppers6 are suspicious of fake reviews on eCommerce sites and 63%6 of them think that it is the responsibility of website managers to solve the problem.

To combat this practice, « indicators of authenticity » have been created to confirm that reviews have been checked by an independent third party6, and 78% of businesses6 intend to add these indicators to their eCommerce site.

Special offers

False special offers are increasingly frequent12 on eCommerce sites. Very often they are presented « in the same visual style13 » as offers that comply with regulations.

For example, during Black Friday, some businesses « increase the product reference prices14 » and display exaggerated « reductions of up to 80%14 » to make shoppers think they're getting a better price.

To avoid misleading shoppers, the regulations15 now insist that eCommerce sites display the real reference price, before applying the reduction, and then announcing the « new reduced price15 ».

To sum up: there are various types of misleading content including fake reviews, fake reductions, edited photos… and this content is increasingly present on eCommerce websites. This increase is a worry for shoppers and has a significant negative impact on businesses, leading to more cart abandons, product returns, and penalties.

This observation underlines the importance of combatting these practices and of promoting brands that provide shoppers with trustworthy and high-quality content.


1 Globaleyez. (2023, February 28). 40 % of online shops mislead consumer.
2 Sous-section 1 : Pratiques commerciales trompeuses (Articles L121-2 à L121-5). Legifrance.
3 DGCCR. (2023, November 20). Les abus du e-commerce dans la ligne de mire de la DGCCRF. economie.gouv.fr.
4 Illouz, A. (2002, May 2). Photo non conforme : peut-on annuler la vente ? leparisien.fr.
5 Ferguson, S. (2023, November 7). 5 stats that prove ecommerce stores need video. Wyzowl.
6 Comarketing-News. (2024, January 23). Faux avis : c'est aux marques de régler le problème...
7 Nation, E. (2023, January 20). Les packshots : comment améliorer vos fiches produits ? ECN.
8 Kwemo, B. (2023, November 16). Mistakes sabotaging your product descriptions. ConvertMate.
9 baymard.com. (2021, March 9). 10 % of E-Commerce Sites Have Product Descriptions That Are Insufficient for Users' Needs. Baymard Institute.
10 Guta, M. (2020, December 13). 87 % of Consumers Now Read Online Reviews for Local Businesses. Small Business Trends.
11 Caillebotte, É. (2024, February 14). Google traque les faux avis grâce à son nouvel algorithme : ce qu'il faut savoir. BDM.
12 De Chou, M. S. (2023, June 1st). Attention, seules 3,4 % des promotions sur internet sont réelles, alerte UFC Que Choisir. POSITIVR.
13 Da Sois, J. (2023, May 31). L'UFC-Que choisir porte plainte contre huit sites de e-commerce, dont Amazon, pour « fausses promotions » . Le Figaro.
14 Kandoul, E. (2023, November 24). Black Friday : Faux prix et vraies arnaques ? Euronews.
15 Taquet, P., & Taquet, P. (2023, May 23). Commerce en ligne : vraies ou fausses promotions, voici comment les différencier. PhonAndroid.

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