As more online businesses emerge amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, the demand for guidelines on online transactions also increases. The DTI takes seriously the drafting of policies to ensure that online retailers have the capabilities to facilitate online transactions and buyers or consumers to purchase in a safe and secure manner.
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) issued a Philippine National Standard (PNS) 2155:2020: Guidelines for e-commerce transactions. The standard encourages organizations to create more consumer-friendly operations and customer-centric processes. It covers the entire e-commerce transaction process such as browsing, purchasing, payment, delivery, product tracking, and returns - as well as best customer support practices.
Online retailers/e-marketplaces can use PNS 2155 as guide to develop e-commerce processes and policies, and convey clear and comprehensive information and processes to consumers for easy access. PNS 2155 serves as a practical reference and spans all key processes of e-commerce transactions. These ranges from pre-purchase activities of browsing and selection, to purchasing and payment procedures, and post-purchase activities which include fulfilment, delivery, tracking of products, and returns, refunds, and exchange.
BPS Director Neil Catajay emphasizes that the guidelines will further help online businesses develop customer-centric business policies and processes, to enhance consumer confidence and trust. He underscores that established confidence and trust is a key driver for the growth of the e-industry.
PNS 2155:2020 specifies the best practices for pre-purchasing activities, purchasing process, and post-purchasing activities.
Information on the functionality and benefits of a product/service must be correct as well as health and safety concerns and whether there are guarantees or warrantees available. The product/service marketed 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 that can be used to assist customers in making an informed decision.
The online retailers/e-marketplaces must ensure that the information of the product/service being purchased is listed clearly. This includes the quantity, description, and applicable taxes where applicable. Other important information includes payment options, delivery options, refunds and exchange policies. The online retailers/e-marketplaces should provide a variety of electronic payment options that provide convenience, security, and smooth user experience. A security strategy should ensure customer data is safe against breaches. Once the payment is complete, the customer should be notified, which should include all their billing details.
Online retailers/e-marketplaces working with third-party logistics providers need to ensure that they adhere to applicable handling protocols and that delivery times are within the estimated time promised to the customer. Customers are ought to be provided with the information on the delivery status. Additionally, online retailers/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. Online retailers/e-marketplaces should develop mechanisms to handle customer enquiries, complaints, and dispute resolution.
“The standard encourages greater clarity, transparency, accountability, responsiveness and accessibility in online transactions, thereby improving consumer confidence and trust to transact online and reduce conflicts and disputes”, Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo underscored.
Singapore’s Technical Reference on Guidelines for electronic commerce transactions (TR 76) served as reference for PNS 2155 with permission granted by Enterprise Singapore.
The DTI-BPS is the National Standards Body of the Philippines. It is the Philippines’ member to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
- PNS 2155:2020: Guidelines for e-commerce transactions