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Singapore launches first national standard on guidelines for e-commerce transactions

ENTERPRISE Singapore (ESG) and the Singapore Standards Council (SSC) on Friday launched the Republic's first national standard on guidelines for e-commerce transactions.

Online retailers and intermediaries like online marketplaces can use the new Technical Reference 76 (TR 76) guidelines as a checklist to develop e-commerce processes and policies, and convey clear and comprehensive information to consumers, ESG and SSC said in a joint release.

A TR is a provisional standard developed to address urgent industry demand, and issued for industry trials for a period of time. 

TR 76 covers the entire e-commerce transaction process - including browsing, purchasing, payment, delivery, product tracking, and returns - as well as best customer support practices.

Examples of these guidelines include displaying the organisation, transaction, and product and service details on e-commerce platforms, and ensuring that information - such as the product availability, warranty period, payment modes, delivery options, and fees or taxes - is listed clearly on items placed in the shopping cart of online marketplaces and retailer sites.

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Other examples include having online marketplaces and retailers put up information on terms and conditions, frequently asked questions, and mechanisms used to handle general enquiries, complaints, and transaction disputes.

TR 76 was developed by a working group on e-commerce appointed by ESG and SSC.

The group comprises representatives from the Consumers Association of Singapore, Singapore Retailers Association (SRA), e-commerce sites Carousell and Shopee, and payment and logistics service providers, among others.

The new standard complements government efforts to bolster the presence of small and medium enterprises in the e-commerce market amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

SRA executive director Rose Tong said the association expects online retail to make up a larger share of retail sales with the prolonged outbreak.

"As more retail companies venture into online platforms, TR 76 will support businesses in implementing e-commerce effectively and efficiently," she added.

ESG director-general for quality and excellence Choy Sauw Kook said the guidelines will help businesses develop policies and processes that enhance consumer confidence and trust.

These are "key considerations which will drive the growth of the e-industry", she added.

TR 76 can be purchased from the Singapore Standards eShop. To support enterprises' efforts in combating Covid-19 and boost economic recovery, the public can view TR 76 for free for a limited time on ESG's website.

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