To tap the potential of online trade, stricter penalties should be imposed on websites that engage in fraud, a government source was quoted as saying in the Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newpaper.

In recent years, improved legal regulations for online trade have helped reduce online trade fraud, but fraudulent practices continue, mostly due to the poor management of several agencies, according to the source.

"The online shopping model would develop strongly in Vietnam if authorised agencies impose drastic measures against fraudulent prices," Tran Thanh Hung, an owner of one e-commerce website, said.

By 2015, at least 40-45 percent of the country will be using the internet, and turnover from online retail will reach more than 4billion USD, according to forecasts from the E-commerce Association of Vietnam.

In addition, average per capita income in the country could reach 820 USD by that time, and with a young population and increasingly high incomes, more money would be spent on non-essential goods.

The number of internet users is expected to rise to 37 million by 2016 from 30 million in 2011, according to Business Monitor International (BMI).

Meanwhile, the rapid development of high-speed internet services will offer ready access to online shopping services.

However, analysts have said that only 5 percent of Vietnamese consumers now taking part in e-commerce are satisfied with the service.

Consumers have cited concerns about poor delivery services and complicated procedures, he said.

They have also said that product quality was so lower than what had been advertised online, and prices were as high as similar items sold offline.

Nguyen Ngoc Dung, deputy general secretary of the HCM City E-commerce Association, said that nearly 1,500 websites of organisations and individuals nationwide had been informed of Decree No 52/ND-CP, which requires online businesses to register with the Ministry of Trade and Industry at its website.

However, only 1,100 websites in HCM City have been registered, much lower than the figure of 140,000 operating in the city, Dung said.

The city has yet to punish organisations and individuals for failing to register their websites, he said, adding that the city was focusing on disseminating the regulations.

A representative of the city's Department of Trade and Industry said the agency had organised many conferences and training courses to educate businesspeople about the decree. Meanwhile, the department is reviewing a list of e-commerce-related websites in the city and reminding the owners to register them.-VNA