Tibaldo: Online shopping and PH e-commerce

Consumers atbp.

EARLY this year, the Philippines’ first e-commerce roadmap was launched by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) entitled Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap 2016-2020 witnessed by industry stakeholders, officials and representatives from government agencies. This move is meant to accelerate the growth of Philippine e-commerce and improve Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 which will likewise benefit the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

With the advancement of technology and internet connectivity, retailers are now e-tailers as they can transact with manufacturers and suppliers online.

Although the internet is a resource that can be reached for a wide variety of goods and services just by clicking the mouse and keying descriptive words in our computers, we however need to be responsible as a user, e-consumers or online shoppers. The DTI portal share tips and information on what netizens must do before shopping online and transacting business online. Accordingly, it is our lookout and responsibility to ensure that we are protected when we transact in the online environment, be it on the merchant’s own website, an e-marketplace or online mall or a social networking site like the one we often see in our social media accounts.

Secure yourself by using a computer that is not for public use or better use your own computer and laptop.

Ensure that the computer you are using has an updated anti-virus and anti-malware software program, and an enabled personal firewall.

The use of a strong password by combining upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols is recommended upon registration with the online merchant. All transactions must be kept confidential and always log off from the merchant’s site and the internet browser after each use. Once you are done, delete the browsing history in your computer and refrain from clicking links as you may be directed to deceptive sites. Protect your personal information and only fill-up the required data fields and ensure that the web-page is secure. Also, note that the website address should show a closed padlock icon https and not only http.

Check the merchant’s web address or URL for correctness. Make sure that it is the merchant’s real website. Be careful in misspelling the address to avoid being misdirected to a bogus merchant’s website. Pay attention to details as words and names can be misleading. Words like “Shrap” can be perceived as “Sharp” and “Artists Guild” can be substituted to “Arts Guild”.

Always read the privacy policy statement and terms and conditions. No matter how lengthy, these statements are important so that you know how they handle and secure your information and their payment policy. If you are uncomfortable with any of their terms, do not transact with the site.

In the case of online marketplaces/social networking sites, it can be quite difficult to distinguish between a trustworthy merchant from an unscrupulous one (usually using fictitious names) selling non-existent or substandard products or services. There are sites that have, fortunately, taken steps to protect their buyers. Before accepting sellers, these sites first verify the identity of their prospective sellers. They also have a policy for dispute resolution between buyers and sellers.

Trust your instincts and when in doubt, don’t. Do not proceed with your transactions when you have any doubts on the merchant or on any step of the transaction process. Do not be deceived by huge discounts. If a deal or offer looks unbelievable, unreal or too good to be true unless you have validated the deal yourself.

If you are being hurried or pressured into completing the transaction and making the payment, chances are you are not dealing with a responsible and reputable firm. This applies particularly to those merchants/sellers whose only payment option is by cash deposit to the merchants’ bank accounts or mobile wallets.

By doing research, comparing and ask around even through forums and social media chat groups, you can verify if you are dealing with the right firms or persons.

I’ve been comparing prices of products and services including customer service/after sales service, shipping/delivery, payment options and it really pays to have more information as you also get to educate yourself on the processes of e-commerce. Lastly, always remember that as a consumer, whether in the physical or online environments, you must remain vigilant, meticulous and discerning. Consumer complaints may be reported to the DTI Call Center at (02) 751-3330 or to the DTI Regional or Provincial Office nearest you.


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