U.K. Online Shoppers Find Reassurance That the Internet is Safe

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As the number of U.K. online shoppers continues to grow, so do the number of consumers who fear becoming a victim of e-fraud. Safer Shopping this week launches a scheme that will make it easier for consumers to see which sites they can trust.

The number of U.K. consumers taking advantage of the low prices, choice and convenience of online shopping continues to grow at an incredible rate, but so does the confusion felt by those who fear becoming the victims of “rogue traders.” The Safer Shopping scheme (http://www.safershopping.org) launched this week aims to calm those fears by offering e-commerce Web sites that comply with its code of practice the opportunity to display a “Safer Shopping Approved” logo.

Web sites wishing to display the “Safer Shopping Approved” seal must undergo an inspection that checks various aspects of their stores including credit card security, contact methods, and their policy on the return of goods. Only when the site fully complies with the code of practice are they allowed to display the accreditation logo.

Safer Shopping plans to run a “zero-tolerance” system whereby all member sites are regularly monitored to ensure that they continue to comply with the requirements of the scheme. Fail to do so, and they will no longer be authorized to display the logo. If a consumer clicks on a “Safer Shopping Approved” logo, they are shown a certificate on the Safer Shopping Web site that confirms that the seal is indeed authentic.

Shoppers are further reassured by the fact that should something go wrong when shopping with an approved retailer that the Safer Shopping team will step in free of charge and act as an unbiased mediator to try and help solve the problem.

Such an idea isn’t new. The consumer organization “Which? Webtrader” scheme was incredibly successful during the three and a half years that it operated before closing its doors at the beginning of 2003. With 2,700 approved retailers, the presence of the “Which? Webtrader” logo on Web sites became something that the British public looked for and expected. Several replacement schemes have appeared over the last two and a half years, but many feel that none are as widely recognized by online shoppers as their predecessor.

According to the team running the scheme, they plan to target marketing towards consumers rather than e-commerce retailers, thus increasing public awareness. The Safer Shopping website delivers information to online shoppers in a clear and easy to understand way and the early response from both consumers and retailers alike has been very positive.

The Safer Shopping scheme launches on July 1, and more information can be found at http://www.safershopping.org.

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Ali Prior