Qual­ity, safety should be buzz­words for on­line firms, says Sun­ing chief

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - ByWANG ZHUO­QIONG wangzhuo­qiong@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

E-com­merce firms in China will have to en­sure the safety and qual­ity of the prod­ucts that are trans­acted through their plat­forms, ac­cord­ing to a pro­posal floated by a lead­ing in­dus­try of­fi­cial.

Zhang Jin­dong, chair­man of elec­tron­ics re­tailer Sun­ing Com­merce Group and a mem­ber of theNa­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, the top ad­vi­sory body, said his pro­posal aims to safe­guard con­sumer rights and cre­ate a ro­bust e-com­merce sys­tem de­void of wrong­do­ings, coun­ter­feits and poor qual­ity prod­ucts.

On­line re­tail sales climbed to 2.79 tril­lion yuan ($450 bil­lion) in 2014, rep­re­sent­ing a year-on-year growth of 49.7 per­cent. Though the seg­ment ac­counted for 10 per­cent of the to­tal con­sump­tion in China, it was bogged down by coun­ter­feit prod­ucts and copy­right in­fringe­ments.

Zhang said that it is im­por­tant for on­line re­tail­ers to keep com­plete, ac­cu­rate data and fur­nish ev­i­dence as and when re­quired, es­pe­cially while work­ing with leg­is­la­tors and con­sumers. On­line re­tail­ers should also be accountable for the re­pair, re­turn or other as­so­ci­ated prob­lems per­tain­ing to prod­ucts sold through their plat­forms.

Zhang’s pro­posal finds close par­al­lels with the re­cent gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions for the e-com­merce sec­tor. The State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for In­dus­try and Com­merce re­leased an en­hanced con­sumer pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tion on Tues­day gov­ern­ing e-com­merce pur­chases.

Un­der the new reg­u­la­tion, cus­tomers can re­turn opened goods they bought on­line within seven days and get full re­funds with­out pro­vid­ing any rea­son for the re­turn. The rule is slated to come into ef­fect on March 15.

Zhang’s pro­posal also sug­gests that do­mes­tic lead­ing com­pa­nies should ex­plore cross-bor­der trade mod­els in bonded ar­eas.

“Cross-bor­der e-com­merce at bonded zones will be an im­por­tant way to bal­ance im­ports and ex­ports. It will also help nar­row trade sur­plus and stim­u­late do­mes­tic con­sump­tion. In ad­di­tion, it will pro­vide the best global com­modi­ties at the best prices for Chi­nese con­sumers,” he said.

Last year, Sun­ing ex­panded its re­tail hori­zons by be­com­ing a full-fledged e-com­merce plat­form. Sun­ing posted earn­ings of 946 mil­lion yuan in the fourth quar­ter of 2014, rep­re­sent­ing a year-on-year growth of 17 per­cent. “In the In­ter­net era, those who stay are the win­ners,” he said.

Zhang said Sun­ing’s growth can also be at­trib­uted to the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of what was tra­di­tion­ally ahome­ap­pli­ance port­fo­lio. The com­pany added a su­per­mar­ket and baby and ma­ter­nity prod­ucts to its port­fo­lio in the sec­ond half of 2014, and man­aged to at­tract con­sumers with lower-priced and bulkier toi­let pa­per and in­fant milk for­mula.

Zhang said this year the com­pany plans to set up 50 “cloud” stores to ex­pand its on­line-and-off­line pres­ence, even as it con­tin­ues to up­date its phys­i­cal store pres­ence. It will also tar­get third- and fourth-tier cities and has chalked plans to open 1,500 new ser­vice sta­tions to meet de­mands from the smaller cities.

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