Following the government’s move to lift restrictions on eCommerce, allowing e-tailers to sell everything except alcohol and cigarettes, South Africans are no longer limited in terms of the products that they would like to buy online, with immediate effect. Photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Following the government’s move to lift restrictions on eCommerce, allowing e-tailers to sell everything except alcohol and cigarettes, South Africans are no longer limited in terms of the products that they would like to buy online, with immediate effect. Photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Lifting eCommerce restrictions will breathe some life back into a broken economy

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published May 18, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – Following the government’s move to lift restrictions on eCommerce, allowing e-tailers to sell everything except alcohol and cigarettes, South Africans are no longer limited in terms of the products that they would like to buy online, with immediate effect.

E-tailer Loot.co.za, along with several other eCommerce platforms, had called for the government to widen the definition of essential goods and services, driven by the spike in demand for online shopping since the start of the lockdown.

Loot.co.za’s chief executive, Greg le Roux, welcomed the government’s move and said all Loot’s delivery partners were essential service providers and had implemented contactless delivery mechanisms to ensure smooth and safe delivery. He said all delivery partners adhered to the Covid-19 safety guidelines through the use of hand sanitisers, masks and gloves.

“We have been inundated with requests for non-essential goods as defined by the Gazette, however, which are deemed very essential by our consumers. The demand for laptops, schoolbooks, stationery, etc, illustrates the need for the list of the essential items to be expanded so that South Africans can continue to live as normal as possible during the extended lockdown period.

“We are looking at increases in volumes that are as high as Black Friday. Which means that more and more South Africans are now looking at Ecommerce to provide a safe solution to their retail requirements,” said le Roux.

Laurian Venter, director at OneDayOnly.co.za said that the news of regulations being lifted was music to not only e-tailers’ ears but also the industries that eCommerce supported. 

“Ecommerce has a much wider reach than one often thinks, in that it always supports three industries: small and medium (and sometimes large) businesses that do not sell directly to the end-user or supply any retailer; a sub-section of the transport industry through courier companies; and many small companies that have lost their physical shops as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

“By opening up unrestricted eCommerce trading, with very clear safety guidelines for sanitation and contact, of course, salaries will now be able to be paid and countless more families can be provided for. We can now breathe some life back into a broken economy amidst these most uncertain of economic times.”

If global FinTech trends are anything to go by, South African consumers should be preparing themselves for a lot of financial management innovation, and new money-saving options.

There are more than 12 000 FinTech companies operating across the world, and Goldman Sachs estimates the global FinTech market to be worth $4.7 trillion (over R86 trillion).

Chief executive and founder of Solvency Mutoda Mahamba said with so much innovation taking place globally, one might think that South Africa was lagging. But while the media profile of local FinTechs has been low, the sector has been very active.

“There has been a lot of FinTech activity within the industry for a while, and consumers are increasingly being offered a wide range of innovative products – as well as new ways of thinking about the money they spend on insurance,” said Mahamba. “Sometimes FinTech brands are consumer-facing, but often they are buried within the financial services value chain. While consumers may not have noticed their presence, they may already be using and enjoying FinTech services.”

Internationally, FinTech brands have revolutionised cross-continental travel by giving consumers easy-to-use options that slash exchange rate fees and transaction costs. Similarly, new banks have changed the banking sector with fast, dynamic digital offerings and low-cost internet banking.

“These brands are just the tip of the consumer iceberg. FinTechs are changing how financial services work everywhere, from EFT payment methods when you’re shopping online to concepts like insurance that rewards good driver-behaviour,” said Mahamba.

As this innovation becomes more visible and familiar, consumers are more likely to actively seek out best-in-class brands and experiences.

BUSINESS REPORT

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