Lack of trust is most likely to keep consumers and merchants off e-commerce platforms in the country, said Azhar Bin Adnan, chief marketing officer of Vietnam for leading US based CMC Telecom.
The lifeblood of the Internet is trust, and when that is damaged, the consequences for the digital economy are nearly irreparable, Mr Adnan told reporters at a recent press conference announcing Vietnam Online Marketing Forum 2017.
The Forum, set to transpire in Hanoi on August 17, will address this and other pressing issues more in depth as well as the difficulties with getting merchants to employ e-commerce in their sales and marketing efforts.
Notably, the survey conducted by the Vietnam E-Commerce Association, showed that most merchants have never attempted to use e-commerce over issues related to lack of trust, Mr Adnan noted.
This is a major concern for government policymakers who would like to see e-commerce take off and become the norm for the retail sector.
With around 35-40 million regular smartphone users in the country, there is great latent potential for e-commerce, added Mr Adnan, but to date, most users are disengaged and just listen to music or look at photos on their smartphones.
They don’t use their smartphones to make retail purchases because of either trust related issues or the fact that they either don’t have a credit card or simply lack an understanding of alternative digital payment options such as eWallet.
Do Huu Hung, CEO of Interspace Vietnam Co, in turn noted at the presser that the survey revealed an increasing number of smartphone users are shopping online— even though they prefer to physically go to a brick and mortar store to consummate the purchase.
This suggests, noted Mr Hung, that merchants have a golden opportunity to capture a larger share of their customers’ online spending by taking steps to reduce fraud and enhance security in their digital channels.
Other ways for which merchants could increase their online sales is by offering additional incentives to consumers, added Mr Hung.
Most consumers said they would be more likely to purchase an item online if there was an offer of free delivery. Similarly, more than 50% of consumers said discounts available only for online purchases would incentivize them to purchase online instead of in-store.
Likewise, the ability to earn exclusive rewards for online purchases would prompt them to do the same.
The survey, he said, confirmed the importance of having adequate consumer protection and data protection in place, and this is the number one area that Vietnamese merchants lag.
More investment in capacity-building is therefore urgently needed.
The bottom line, concluded Mr Hung, is that both Vietnamese consumers and merchants simply do not trust the Internet.
The findings of the survey highlight the importance of the government and business community acting proactively to build stronger online trust by addressing users’ concerns and utilizing advanced technologies such as encryption to secure communications.