The year end is the best time to shop as there are heaps of good deals during the 11.11 and 12.12 sales. Lazada and Shopee are two of the biggest eCommerce platforms in Malaysia, where you can get significant discounts especially during flash sales.
While there are existing measures to protect buyers, some unscrupulous sellers have set up fake online stores to prey on unsuspecting victims. You might have heard about people getting non-genuine products. What’s even more disturbing is that some buyers don’t even realise that they have received a counterfeit item.
Before you checkout from a store, here are several things that you need to know for a safer online shopping experience.
Lowest price might not necessarily be the best
Naturally, most buyers will look out for listings with the lowest price. While you can typically expect to pay less online compared to retail stores, sometimes the price difference is just ridiculous.
You’ve probably heard the saying “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is” and this also applies to online shopping. There are a number of fake stores that sells non-genuine products.
For example, if a new phone retails for RM3,000, it is impossible for dealer to sell it for less than RM500 and that’s a sign of a potential scam. At first glance, it may look genuine as the store uses official product photos with complete product names and description.
From our experience, there are legit discounts of a couple of hundred ringgit for new items. Occasionally, some brands may offer big discounts up to 50% off for older smartphone models but with very limited stock.
Before buying a product, we recommend doing your research from the official store to find out the actual retail prices. When it comes to phones, some sellers might sell imported units which could be a few hundred ringgit cheaper. These could be genuine products from other countries but you won’t enjoy the same local warranty and support as Malaysian units. You can check the item’s warranty details to see if it is covered under “Local Manufacturer Warranty”.
Check store details and reviews
Another thing to look out for is the store’s reputation. Is it an established store with good ratings and reviews? Most of the fake stores are usually newly created with hardly any reviews or ratings. Although there are genuine sellers that recently set up shop on Lazada and Shopee, it is always good to check the reviews, Q&A section and the store details.
In most cases, previous buyers would leave a comment with photos and videos of the actual product. This is where you can see if the product is indeed genuine and you can easily spot a fake if it looks different from the real deal.
For better assurance, it is recommended to buy from established sellers on the platform that are at least 1 year old with substantial number reviews. Do note that store reviews are not entirely full proof as some sellers can find a way to manipulate the system by leaving themselves positive reviews while increasing their “sold” count.
Chat with sellers
If you are in doubt, you can always contact the seller to get more information about the product. Most reputable sellers we’ve encountered are very helpful and they response rather quickly. On top of that, you can also check the Q&A section if it’s available on the platform. If the seller replies that the product is an OEM version or other reasons that doesn’t assure you that it’s 100% original, that’s an indication that it’s not genuine.
Buy from official or preferred brand stores
If you don’t want to take any chances, the best option is to buy only from trusted and endorsed stores on the respective eCommerce platforms. On Lazada, it is labeled as LazMall while on Shopee, it’s called Shopee Mall.
According to Lazada, LazMall is a branded destination that’s created as a one-stop destination for consumers who demand the assurance of purchasing 100% authentic branded products. Lazada offers up to 5 times return for purchases found to be non-authentic on LazMall. On top of that, they also offer 15 days hassle-free return policy and Guaranteed Delivery service.
Meanwhile, Shopee says every product on its Shopee Mall is 100% authentic allowing users to shop with peace of mind from their favourite brands. It offers one-stop access to quality products from over 1,200 brands and retailers. In addition, they also offer 2x money back guarantee for all Shopee Mall purchases if the products are not authentic.
In addition to Shopee Mall, Shopee also has the “Preferred” label which is used to promote reputable and trustworthy sellers with proven track record on the platform. This is only given to sellers that demonstrated a good history of shopper reviews and quality products. You can identity a preferred seller with a clear “Preferred Seller” tag in orange on the Shopee platform.
Additional measures to prevent fraud listings
According to Lazada, they have invested greatly in protecting the integrity of the Lazada marketplace for consumers, brands and sellers. They have a robust system of checks and controls with stringent policies and measures in place to curb fraudulent and illicit trading of goods on their platform.
Lazada says they have a ‘notice, investigate and take down’ approach with clear policies in place and developed communications channels for both
buyers and sellers to report any bad behaviour. Lazada’s IPR (intellectual property right) protection program has integrated Alibaba’s IPP Platform, a portal where brands can register and submit takedown requests.
With these processes in place, Lazada says it will remove counterfeit items as soon as they become aware of them and they will suspend or ban sellers that violate the law. It also added that it works closely with local authorities to make sure necessary actions are taken against uncooperative sellers and they remain committed to ensure that Lazada continues to be a safe and reliable eCommerce platform.
Lazada highly encourages its customers that come across any counterfeit, illegal or fraudulent listings to report to them so that they can investigate and take necessary action as swiftly as possible. If a customer receives a counterfeit item, they can initiate a return by clicking on “Return/Refund” in the “Order Details” page and select “Counterfeit” as the reason for return. This action will alert Lazada Customer Support and their team will launch an investigation on the matter.
On Shopee, they prohibit the sale of any prohibited items on their platform guided by local policies, regulations and restrictions set by government agencies and regulatory bodies. To prevent listings of illegal and prohibited products, Shopee has a database of blacklisted keywords and it is constantly updated to ensure they stay ahead of new and emerging trends.
According to Shopee, listings that contained specific keywords will be immediately redirected to their team for review before it is displayed to their users. However, in some isolated cases, a fraudulent listing gets through the system and this is where users are urged to report these sellers and listing for further action. Users can report by using the “Report this Product” feature.
In addition, Shopee is also offering a Shopee Guarantee Policy that covers all transactions made on Shopee Platform. This allows Shopee to withhold payments to sellers in escrow until buyers confirm that goods received are genuine, and in good quality and condition before the money is released to sellers.
According to Shopee, by holding the money in escrow, sellers are also incentivised to ship the products in good condition as soon as possible and buyers will need not worry about fraud or not being able to get their money back should there be a problem with their purchase.
It added that the refund process can be as quick as 15 minutes upon approval if the payment is made via ShopeePay. Shopee also warns that all transactions must take place on their platform in order to be protected by their Shopee Guarantee Policy.
If customers receive a counterfeit product from a Shopee seller, they can seek for refund directly in the app by following the instructions in the “My Purchases” section. If there’s a dispute between seller and buyer, the case will be brought to Shopee’s attention to reach an agreeable solution for both parties.
We recently talked about fake online stores in our Let’s Talk About segment. You can watch our video below or listen on your favourite podcast app.