Vietnam’s ‘Black Friday’ sees frenzied online shopping, but more regulation required

HANOI: “I have just bought a new washing machine online at a good price,” a customer named Trung said on Friday.

As many as 2,000 e-commerce are involved in Vietnam’s second online shopping bonanza on Friday, which is Vietnam’s version of “Black Friday”. More than 63,500 promotional products have been updated on the official website for the day of shopping frenzy.

“Now I can stay at home and buy things just by clicking my mouse,” Tram, another customer said. Online shopping has become more popular with Vietnamese customers in recent years. “There are plenty of choices. It is so convenient,” shopper Phan Nguyen said excitedly.

This is the second time an online shopping day has been held in Vietnam. The first online shopping day was held on Dec. 5, 2014 with more than 10 million visits on its official website and had total sales of 7.5 million US dollars.

According to Tran Huu Linh, head of the Vietnam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency (VECITA), which falls under Vietnam’ s Ministry of Industry and Trade,the activity is among the efforts to accelerate consumer demand and online purchases so as to boost the development of e-commerce in Vietnam.

Customers can find products from clothes, cosmetics, digital equipment,tourist services and household appliances. This year, foodstuffs and fresh food are also available for sale on the page.

The activity in 2015 is expected to see total trading revenue reach 25 million US dollars, more than three times higher than last year, according to VECITA.

During the Online Friday event this year, eight banks and credit organizations are offering cash-back services for online transactions, while express delivery firms also committed to cutting delivery costs by half to support online purchasers.

However, besides products with good prices, customers were not satisfied with many items posted on the site with “fake promotions. ”

Many customers have complained that they had to spend more money for a product purchased online compared to that at shopping malls.

According to VECITA, this year, it has paid more attention to helping customers in choosing good products with proper promotion by launching a price comparison tool to check for the average market price of the product. However, the move seems to have fallen short as the price comparison tool is not available for all products, while the price of many items on the site is higher than the market price after comparisons are made.

“My sister bought a promoted fridge on ‘Black Friday’. She even got a further discount for paying via banking card. But later we found that the price was still higher than market price at stores, ” a netizen said of her unpleasant experience of online shopping on Friday.

A reader named Cong Thanh also commented online that many net stores hiked their original prices, then marked up high discount rates to lure customers. The reader also warned customers to check carefully before purchasing.

For example, on Friday morning, an Apple cellphone product was discounted 52 percent from its original price of over 33 million Vietnamese dong (about 1,500 US dollars) to around 16 million Vietnamese dong (about 730 US dollars).

In fact, the product is being sold at nearly 19 million Vietnamese dong (over 870 US dollars) at an authorized distributor of Apple products in Vietnam. According to regulations on promotion in Vietnam, the maximum discount for a product may not exceed 50 percent of the product’s listing price before the promotion period. It can be seen that the promotion rate of the Apple product on the site violated the regulation. The product, probably labelled with a fake original price and misleadingly discounted, was later found removed from the site.

Tran Huu Linh, head of VECITA, said earlier in November that current legal frameworks and infrastructure do not meet rising demand for e-commerce growth. In order to boost online consumers’ and businesses’confidence, VECITA has been improving legal frameworks for e-payments and logistics services, as well as developing corresponding application solutions.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is also collecting suggestions for a draft plan for e-commerce development by 2020. It aims to get approximately 60 percent of businesses onto the internet, regularly updating information to introduce and sell products, with 80 percent of businesses taking orders online.

The draft plan also encourages enterprises and individuals to start e-commerce businesses and form online transaction centers. Statistics by VECITA showed that in 2014, total sales of Vietnam’s e-commerce sector reached 2.97 billion US dollars, accounting for 2.12 percent of the country’s retail sale revenue.

According to initial statistics by the organizer, as of 4 p.m local time on Friday, the official site has seen nearly 5 million visits.

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