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MENAFN - Arab News - 04/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia needs laws to regulate e-commerce so customers of online "shops" that are fraudulent could claim and retrieve their money, said information technology expert Yazeed Al-Taweel.

He said implementing regulations to govern e-commerce and online transactions should involve several government and banks, to guarantee refunds for customers in case of fraud. However, customers have a responsibility to make sure a website is official and legitimate. They should avoid dealing with those that seem suspicious.

Saudi Arabia has the second-largest market for e-commerce in the GCC region. Sales reached 520 million (SR 1,950 million) in the Saudi online market. About 39 percent of Saudi adult Internet users " 21 percent of the population " purchase products and services online.

Al-Taweel said e-commerce would become the main shopping method in the future, given its low prices, product variety and low time consumption. Supporting and developing it in the Kingdom is important, as it would give traders a better chance to compete globally and export Saudi products, he said.

Verifying the quality of a product in an online outlet can be done via two ways. The first is to purchase a low-priced item and then, after receiving it, purchase items are more expensive. The second way is to inquire about the site with people who had experience with it, he said.

The website mothoq.com (trusted) gives out guarantees on sites it had examined. Guaranteed sites would bear the Mothoq logo on their landing page: a green heart with a check mark in the middle.

To earn the logo, the online shop's owner would have to explain their customer policy and services it provides, including how the product is delivered, rules of returns and refunds and technical support. However, most Mothoq-guaranteed sites have no return and refund policies. The few that do would charge the customer for it. Mothoq only verifies the credibility of online shops, but not commercial accounts on social networking sites.

Mazen Al-Darrab of Ittejar.com, an e-commerce-specialized website, said he supported having laws for e-commerce, even though "conventional commerce regulations should apply to e-commerce as well," he said. Issues related to e-commerce have not yet developed into major problems, he added.

Al-Darrab thinks e-commerce did not limit and is not replacing conventional commerce. "It is only a new channel that leads to products and services that reach a larger proportion of customers and shoppers." He called on traders not to consider e-commerce as a competitor, but rather open an online branch of their businesses that will be open 24 hours for 7 days a week.


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