Lan Anh, an accountant living in District 3, HCM City, is over-worked as the Lunar Year draws to a close. Illustrative image (Source: Vietnamnet)
Illustrative image (Source: Vietnamnet)
She has plenty of reports to finish and very little time to spare for shopping, even for the most traditional, must-have food items for Tet (Lunar New Year), the most important festival celebrated in the country.
For professionals like her, online shopping is a boon. Ordering and paying have become easy and convenient, although problems of quality and authenticity have also surfaced.
Many consumers have said that the hectic year-end schedule keeps them so busy that they can’t go shopping, but the development of e-commerce and e-payment is helping them avoid going to stores or supermarkets by themselves. Now, without leaving their office or home, they can place orders online and wait for goods to be delivered at home.
“To prepare for the New Year, I have ordered some traditional dishes from the central region, like pickled scallion, salted figs and papaya shrimp sauce,” Lan Anh said.
With Vietnam boasting a large Internet community and a young, digital-savvy population, the domestic e-commerce market is buzzing with activity ahead of the upcoming festival.
Xuan Hoa, a resident in HCM City’s Binh Thanh district, said he had purchased some products via Facebook after seeing many sellers advertise their goods on the social network.
“I bought green grapefruit and banh chung cake for the upcoming holiday. Thanks to Facebook, I can shop and complete my work at the same time as all the transactions are conducted online. I just wait for the bills and goods brought to my house,” Hoa said.
As the nation pushes its way to modernisation and deeper international integration, online shopping is set to become a habit for many. This is facilitated by several factors including diversified services and products, fast transaction speeds, quick payment and attractive promotions.
Many large e-supermarkets and social networking sites have announced that they have carefully prepared to ship a large quantity of goods to serve a huge, growing demand, apart from launching various promotions to attract more buyers.
Hotdeal.vn, one of Vietnam’s largest e-commerce sites, has launched special shopping programmes for the holiday, providing customers with a wide range of selection of tasty and delicious Tet dishes from common foods to specialities like natural dried dates, pasteurised pennywort powder and hand-made meat pies.
At e-commerce site adayroi.vn, customers can choose diverse food products, from confectionery, snacks, dried food, beverage and soft drinks to vegetables, fruits as well as provisions like rice, sugar and groceries.
A representative of an e-commerce business said that with much lower overheads than traditional shopping channels, online shopping centres are able to offer multiple promotions and discounts.
Some popular sites like sendo.vn, lazada.vn, chodientu.vn, hotdeal.vn, tiki.vn and zalora.vn are offering discounts up to 50 percent on all types of products, especially those related to fashion and beauty, like shoes, handbags, watches and eyeglasses.
With foodstuff is most in demand for this holiday, these items are advertised widely on the Internet with many discount programmes. Although the percentage discounts are not high compared to other consumer goods, people can still buy some items like confectionary, soft drinks and noodles for discounts of up to 39 percent.
Meanwhile, big supermarket chains in the country, are only accepting delivery orders by phone, while a prominent wholesaler allows only registered business owners to make online purchases.
While online buying has grown significantly, consumers aren’t completely convinced of the benefits because the platform presents a number of risks and problems for users. Many e-commerce businesses have exploited legal loopholes in e-commerce transactions to swindle customers.
Thanh Ha, a resident of HCM City’s Tan Phu district, said a very attractive spicy dried chicken has appeared on the e-market this year. After researching social networks, she chose a seller who seemed trustworthy and ordered a small amount to taste the product first.
After checking and liking the dish, she ordered a larger amount to present to her relatives as Tet gifts. However, the second order turned out to be of bad quality. Ha still had to pay for the goods as it was the very last days of the year and the return process required many complicated steps, she said.
Several websites are selling what they claim Nike and Adidas brand sports shoes for around 350,000 VND, much lower than the official prices listed on the brands’ original websites. A pair of Converse brand shoes is being advertised online for just 100,000- 200,000 VND, while the price of a pair on the official website is between 1 and 2 million VND.
Lawyer Nguyen Van Vien, Chairman of the Intellectual Property Association of HCM City, said punishing violations relating to counterfeit goods would be easier if the affected brand belongs to Vietnamese firms as they can confirm whether the goods are authentic or not.
It is difficult to get confirmation of pirated products from overseas brand owners, Vien said, adding that the Government and relevant agencies have to tighten management of online goods. The unprofessional and disreputable behaviour of some e-commerce businesses have badly affected the reputation of authentic companies, he said.
Nguyen Thanh Hung, Chairman of the Vietnam E-commerce Association (VECOM), also said that as the country’s e-commerce sector developed rapidly, legal issues were posing a big challenge.
He said Vietnam still did not have specific guidelines on the operation of the e-commerce market, thus there is no basis to determine the operational model and management direction for this potential growing market.