First national standard on e-commerce transactions launched in Singapore

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As coronavirus prompts everyone to go online, Singapore launched its first standard on e-commerce transactions formulated to help businesses improve their online retail processes and policies.
It covers e-commerce transactions from pre- to post-purchase activities and will serve as a practical reference for e-retailers and online intermediaries such as e-marketplaces.
“The launch of the new standard – Technical Reference 76 (TR 76) – will help build trust and transparency in online transactions”, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Standards Council said on Friday.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, e-commerce transactions have shot up with online retail sales generating an estimated 17.8% of total retail turnover in April, up from 5.5% in January.
In comparison, online sales accounted for just 5.8% of total retail revenue for the whole of 2019.
Businesses can use the guidelines as a checklist to develop e-commerce policies and communicate clearly to consumers. They include details on what information merchants need to state regarding their products or services, returns and refunds policies, as well as payment and shipping processes.
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“This will make it easier for consumers to make informed choices”, the agencies said.
Nanyang Polytechnic School of Business Management director Esther Ho said the TR 76 standard helps consumers decide if a retailer is trustworthy.
She added that the introduction of TR 76 now is timely as shoppers have no choice but to make many of their purchases online amid the pandemic.
“Coupled with the entrants of many and new retailers on the online platform, it is difficult for the shoppers to identify which are the credible ones,” Ho added.
Mr Lucas Tok, a marketing and retail lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic, said the launch of the standard is “a step forward for the industry as a whole”.
While it may take some time for businesses to adopt these practices, given that some have only just started their digital platforms, the guidelines will help them develop a customer-centric approach, he said.
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