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Authorities, firms target Singles Day abuses

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce held a meeting on Monday with 15 e-commerce companies led by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, JD.com Inc and Amazon China to reinforce its request for regulated promotion during the big sales.

It is very likely that problems of price cheating, false advertising, unfair competition, selling fake and inferior commodities will surface during this period. So the administration has required companies to strengthen their management to maintain an orderly online market.

The National Development and Reform Commission has released a new regulation concerning price offenses regarding e-commerce. Under the measure, e-commerce platforms must assist an investigation when a consumer files a complaint about prices. If the complaint is not dealt with by a due date, the platform will have to face a maximum fine of 100,000 yuan ($14,750).

To help consumers be more prepared for the annual battle for bargains, Jack Chuang, partner of the global market consultancy OCC Strategy Consultants Greater China, gave three pieces of advice.

First, consumers should plan ahead. They should check their closets before browsing online. Since many are easily tempted by deals and sometimes buy unnecessarily, if consumers reminded themselves what was hanging in their closet, it will be helpful to at least have a rough idea what they wanted to buy before searching the deals online.

Second, shop in familiar store. “Nov 11 might not be a good time to try new stores given a kind of irrational mindset that takes over. To avoid fraud, an unsatisfied shopping experience, and other problems, it might be safer to shop in those stores you are familiar with, which you know you can trust,” he said.

Last but not least, check price, and don’t take the claimed discount as what it is, it might be just a pricing trick. Some stores may raise their original price so that they can offer deep discount. “It might be smarter if consumers compare prices across stores, or even compare with historical prices if possible, to see whether it is a real deal,” he added.

As the Singles Day shopping spree has come to its eighth year in a row, consumers are more prudent than ever.

According to global market consulting firm Nielsen, quality of goods has become a main factor in determining which e-commerce company the consumer will choose, apart from sales and discounts.

Yin Rong, a public relations manager at a Shanghai-based multinational manufacturing company, said that she had no plans for this year’s shopping carnival yet. She stayed up late for the big sales three years ago, but did not find the discount as big as it was claimed to be.

“I guess only the most prudent consumers, who have the spare time to browse from one store to another and compare prices carefully, can get the real bargains,” she said.