Singapore Introduces New Guidelines for E-commerce Transactions
- Singapore introduced its first-ever Guidelines for E-commerce Transactions (TR 76) to help businesses develop customer-centric e-commerce policies.
- TR 76 aims to bring greater transparency to the e-commerce industry, which will lead to consumers making more informed purchases.
- TR 76 provides guidelines on the best practices for pre-purchasing activities, purchasing process, and post-purchasing scenarios.
- TR 76 can be purchased from the Singapore Standards eShop.
On June 12, 20202, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Standards Council (SSC) launched the country’s first national standard on Guidelines for E-commerce Transactions (Technical Reference 76 (TR 76).
The guidelines conveyed in TR 76 cover information regarding the entire e-commerce transaction process from pre-purchasing activities to payment procedures to post-payment activities and customer support. Online retailers can use these guidelines as a practical reference to help develop customer-centric e-commerce processes and policies, enabling consumers to make more informed purchases. Such policies will also enhance consumer confidence going forward; an important factor impacting the growth of the e-commerce sector.TR 76 will improve the transparency of one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in Southeast Asia and encourage more small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to expand into online platforms. The sector is expected to reach sales of more than US$10 billion in 2020, fueled by the COVID-19 outbreak.
TR 76 can be purchased from the Singapore Standards eShop.
What are the general guidelines under TR 76?
E-marketplaces should display their legal identity on their website and their contact details. They should also ensure merchants are fulfilling their obligations to their customers as it could impact their reputation as an e-marketplace.
E-marketplaces could establish a monitoring system covering aspects such as the merchant’s transaction history or order processing speed to measure their overall performance. This will help the e-marketplace detect fraudulent behavior or merchants who are not providing the highest quality of service.
Furthermore, e-marketplaces and merchants should develop mechanisms to handle customer enquiries, complaints, and dispute resolution. Websites should state clearly expected turnaround times and working hours for customer support (if applicable). E-marketplaces and online merchants need to comprehensively investigate each complaint and its severity and implications to the business. These complaints, as well as positive feedback, should be tracked and reviewed to improve customer service.
During this process, information regarding the functionality and benefits of the product/service must be correct as well as health and safety concerns and whether there are guarantees or warrantees available.
The product/service advertised should be presented with information and designs that are accurate and reflect the key selling points of the product/service to minimize misrepresentation. Price(s) should be displayed with the applicable currency and product reviews, comparisons and ratings can be used to assist customers in making an informed decision.
The e-marketplace must ensure that the information for the product/service being purchased is listed clearly.
This includes the quantity, description, and applicable taxes such as goods and services tax (GST) or import/export fees where applicable. Other important information should incorporate payment options, delivery options, and refunds and exchange policies. The e-marketplace should provide a variety of electronic payment options that provide convenience, security, and smooth user experience. A secure security strategy should ensure customer data is safe against breaches.
Any processing fees and level of protection related to the payment type needs to be considered when the e-marketplace chooses a payment solution. Once the payment is complete, the customer should be notified, which should include all their billing details.
E-marketplaces working with third-party logistics providers need to ensure they adhere to applicable handling protocols and that delivery times are within the estimated time promised to the customer.
Customers ought to be provided with the information on the delivery status upon request. Additionally, the e-marketplace and the logistics provider should agree on the suitable proof of the delivery method. This could come in various forms such as photo evidence to signatures.
Any refund policies should be clear and should include the conditions for refunds, the timeframe for reimbursements, and the method of payments.
ESG and the Nanyang Polytechnic’s Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (NYP-SIRS) will conduct a webinar on July 2, 2020, to assist businesses in implementing TR 76 in their operations.