The internet is a rich resource of a wide variety of goods and services, which can easily be purchased with a few clicks of our mouse or by tapping our fingers, wherever we are and whenever we want.
Indeed, freedom to shop online is at our fingertips. However, with freedom comes responsibility.
As smart and savvy e-consumers and online shoppers, it is our lookout and responsibility to ensure that we are protected when we transact in the online environment, be it on: (1) the merchant’s own website; (2) an e-marketplace/ online mall; or (3) a social networking site.
Following are some tips before shopping online and completing your transaction:
Use a computer that is not for public use – preferably your own computer/laptop.
Ensure that the computer you are using has an updated anti-virus and anti-malware software program, and an enabled personal firewall.
Use a strong password (combination of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols) upon registration with the online merchant. Keep it confidential.
Log off from the merchant’s site and the internet browser after each use.
Delete the browsing history in your computer once the purchase is done.
Keep a documentation of your online purchases through print copies/screenshots for reference until receipt of your product.
2.Transact with a reputable website/merchant/seller.
Use trusted websites rather than using search engines for shopping.
Determine the legitimacy/authenticity of the website. Look for:
A trust mark or a seal (similar to a seal of “good housekeeping”) issued by a trust mark body.
The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) starting with "https" instead of "http" on the page where you will be doing your credit card transaction. This indicates that the page is using a secure sockets layer (SSL) and is backed by a web server certificate.
A valid (not expired) web server certificate that is, preferably, not self-signed (which are easy to procure) but issued by a Certificate Authority. Do this by clicking on the padlock beside the URL or at the bottom of the browser.
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.
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.
3.Trust your instincts. When in doubt, don’t.
Do not proceed with your transaction when:
You have any doubts on the merchant or on any step of the transaction process (e.g., payment, delivery).
A deal/offer looks unbelievable, unreal or too good to be true – unless you have validated the deal/offer. Do not be deceived by huge discounts.
You are hurried or pressured into completing the transaction and making the payment. This applies particularly to those merchants/sellers whose only payment option is by cash deposit to the merchants’ bank accounts or mobile wallets.
4. Do your research: do comparison shopping and ask around
Visit several websites and do comparison shopping not only of the products and services, but the prices, customer service/after sales service, shipping/delivery, payment options, etc.
Ask friends and family who have actual experiences with the merchant.
Check online resources; read consumer reviews/reports/comments/blogs but do not base your decision solely on what you read; be perceptive.
5. Read and understand the fine print.
Check that the following information and policies are posted on the merchant’s website:
Customer Service/After Sales Service
Terms and Conditions
Dispute Resolution/Complaints Handling
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)/Help
Ask yourself if they are to your liking/satisfaction and meet your needs/ requirements/expectations.
6. Validate promotional tie-ups.
Contact the establishment directly and verify the validity of the tie-up/offer with the website (e.g., group buying sites).
7.Ensure that online payment is secure and reliable.
Check that the shipping information page and payment information page are secure (i.e., the website address should show a closed padlock icon; https and not only http).
Verify the existence of a reliable payment facility.
For redirection of the payment page, the merchant’s website should clearly indicate that the payment page will be redirected to the payment gateway’s or payment provider’s website, which should also be secure.
Monitor your credit card, debit card and checking accounts online on a regular basis. Check your statements (electronic/paper) to validate transactions.
8. Proceed with your transaction if you feel confident, safe and secure.
Online shopping need not be a struggle, it should be enjoyed – as long you feel confident, safe and secure. There is much to explore on the internet.
Always remember: caveat emptor – buyer beware! 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.
Makati City --- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched the Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap 2016-2020, as well as the e-commerce.gov.ph website last 2 February 2. Over 150 industry stakeholders and officials/representatives from government agencies participated in the event.
The roadmap is the Philippines’ first on e-commerce, and the DTI expects renewed and reinvigorated collaboration between the government and the private sector to fully accelerate the growth of Philippine e-commerce – one that is globally competitive and integrated.
The roadmap’s main objective is to contribute 25% to the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 (from 10% in 2015 based on estimates made by iMetrics Asia Pacific Corporation). The country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which make up 99.6% of Philippine enterprises, will largely benefit from this initiative. By participating and engaging in e-commerce programs and projects, Philippine MSMEs can become globally competitive.
Keynoting the event were Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. and Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship Chairman Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV; with trade undersecretaries Prudencio M. Reyes, Jr. and Nora K. Terrado opening and closing the event.
Director Maria Lourdes A. Yaptinchay of the DTI’s Sector Planning Bureau/E-Commerce Office introduced the roadmap AVP, and presented the next steps that need to be done until 2020.
DigitalFilipino.com site owner and Philippine e-commerce advocate Janette C. Toral moderated the panel discussion, which guested BSP Deputy Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr., DOST-Information and Communications Technology Office Deputy Executive Director Monchito B. Ibrahim, Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines President Bjorn Pardo, and Director Yaptinchay.
The PECR 2016-2020 presents the Philippines’ strategic plans, policies, and other support measures to harness the benefits of e-commerce for the country. Its action plan is based on key areas highlighted in the APEC Digital Prosperity Checklist.
It is intended to be a living document that will be continuously updated through regular stakeholder consultations to draw up strategies befitting current and timely issues and concerns. Ultimately, through this roadmap, more home-grown Philippine enterprises can directly access the global market or be integrated in global value chain, enabling further access to larger foreign markets.
DTI lauds the success of the first ever Pinoy Cyber Sale (PCS) held last November 27 to 30, where over 20 e-commerce leaders and players participated to provide a full online shopping experience to the public. Participating merchants’ PCS offers were available on www.pinoycybersale.com and on their respective websites.
Majority of the PCS participants were from the retail, travel, and services industries, most of whom reported significant upturns in profit and web traffic. These were fueled by the product/service discounts, as well as massive product promotions offered by these e-commerce players during the period.
E-Commerce advocate Janette Toral revealed that, “While the event garnered weighty increases from a business standpoint, there is much opportunity to fully maximize the advantages of the concept/event through advanced preparation and extensive promotion.” Lazada’s Mila Jimenez emphasized that, “sustaining communication across platforms must also be highlighted.”
With the apparent success of the PCS, the group is set to make this an annual event every November and take advantage of every Juan and Juana’s inclination and ability to shop. Preparatory activities for the PCS 2016 will be held in March and communications strategies will be devised to ensure sustainability.
The country is expected to fully accelerate on infusing e-commerce as a tool in globalizing SMEs, which aligns with DTI’s and APEC’s thrust of integrating SMEs into global value chains. “The tremendous growth of digital, specifically through mobile devices, is creating new opportunities for the Philippines: from customers, to e-commerce companies, to traditional brands,” Zalora’s Tolian Gjika cited.
The Pinoy Cyber Sale was launched in partnership with DTI, Dragonpay, Hellopay, and the Digital Commerce Association of the Philippines (DCOM), and co-presented by Globe Telecom. Merchants included Lazada, Zalora, Foodpanda, Ensogo, Shopee, Goods, Xend Business Solutions, Shopinas, Weemall, AVA.ph, Reloved, Island Rose, Azalea Residences, Best Western Antel, Ellana Minerals, Mimaropa Ventures, One Network E-Commerce, Shopback, and Takatack. With the success of the first run of the Pinoy Cyber Sale, it is poised to become an annual online shopping event in the Philippines, akin to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the U.S. and MY Cyber Sale in Malaysia, among others.
DTI has released the final draft of the Philippine E-Commerce Roadmap (PECR) 2016-2020 before the New Year holiday, last December 29, 2015.
Former Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo has been pushing for the roadmap as “E-Commerce has been gaining ground the world over.”
"The growing importance of e-commerce in the global economy can be seen in regional and global fora where new free trade agreements have included a chapter solely dedicated to e-commerce," Domingo furthered.
The PECR aims to lay down the country's strategic plans, policies, and industry support measures to optimize the opportunities e-commerce brings.
Newly-installed Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. underscored the roadmap’s importance as an integral piece in catalyzing growth and globalization, especially for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). He said, “Platforms like Alibaba have opened up markets to hundreds of millions of MSMEs in China contributing to alleviation of poverty by creating jobs to the economy. We should follow that track in the Philippines”
“Through the Internet, they are able to find customers and they’re able to export and they don’t have to deal with customs. This kind of e-commerce platform is what we have to promote. That will be a big boost to our MSMEs,” the trade chief remarked.
Based on recent estimates, the Philippines has 44.2 million internet users, while the rest of ASEAN has 143.1 million internet users.
This is a huge potential market for e-commerce, which can be leveraged by the country’s over 937,000 MSMEs to tap the global marketplace and further business growth.
E-commerce, as a tool in globalizing MSMEs, aligns with DTI’s and APEC’s thrust of integrating MSMEs into the global value chain and in providing them direct access to the global market. It is a key component of the APEC Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs.
Senator Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV fully supports the e-commerce initiative as he noted that "inclusive growth will be made much easier if our e-commerce basics and our e-commerce elements are there to be able to push it forward."
"We understand how important e-commerce is to our country and how important it is to achieve where we want to be five to ten years from now," Aquino has mentioned in discussions.
The PECR is a collaboration of government, partner agencies, private sector, academe, and other stakeholders. It has undergone a series of face-to-face consultations in Metro Manila and in key cities across the country. Online consultations have also been conducted along the way to further fine-tune the roadmap, resulting to further improvements leading up to the final draft.