ISLAMABAD: As there is no defined regulatory structure for e-commerce companies, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has decided to develop e-commerce policy guidelines to prevent abuse and deceptive marketing practices in the sector.
With Covid-19 pandemic having accelerated digital marketing across the world, Pakistan, too, has witnessed a surge in online businesses.
To ensure that consumers are just as safe when shopping online as they are when they shop otherwise, the CCP has approached 35 major online platforms in Pakistan, seeking information on the principal aspects governing their online activities and transactions.
CCP Chairperson Rahat Kaunain Hassan recently held a commission meeting where it was noted online business despite operating beyond provincial and national boundaries had no clearly defined regulatory framework for e-commerce.
Asks online stores to give information related to aspects governing their activities and transactions
“Given the growth of e-commerce players in Pakistan, the CCP encourages the business in this sector to share the required information and take part in the consultative policy formulation process,” she said.
The competition commission has asked e-commerce companies for certain information regarding business operations, product specifications and verification process, product safety warnings, warranties, disclosures and disclaimers, essential terms and conditions of online business in the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase stages, payment modalities and security of payment systems, delivery mechanism and the return policy.
The CCP has also asked the e-commerce companies regarding the consequences of delays in delivery and the dispute resolution mechanism in case the buyers were not satisfied.
Since the e-commerce business falls under the domain of several regulatory agencies, including cyber security, the CCP has further asked the companies about cyber walls for “personal data protection and privacy safeguards” by the digital platforms.
The CCP has sought details from the companies about sharing and usage of personal data of customers for marketing purposes, and “how the payment systems were secured”.
The commission wants businesses to explain what personal data protection and privacy safeguards are in place and whether information on products and services is presented in a transparent, accurate, easily accessible, and visible manner to help consumers make informed choices.
The CCP target is to strengthen consumers’ trust in the expanding electronic market place by providing the guiding principles for e-commerce business for preventing fraud, unfair trade practices and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.
“These companies must provide truthful, accurate and complete information to consumers, and avoid deceptive, misleading or unfair claims, omissions or practices,” said CCP spokesman while talking to Dawn.
The letter seeking details has been forwarded to 11 top online multi-category sellers and the online stores including Daraz.pk, Shopanga.pk, Goto.com.pk, Alibaba.com, Amazon.com and ARY SAHULAT BAZAR, besides five top online fashion and textile stores and eight online vehicle and immoveable property trade platforms.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2021