It was odd that the ban on e-commerce was maintained under the level 4 restrictions, said Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Picture: Philippe Wojazer/REUTERS
It was odd that the ban on e-commerce was maintained under the level 4 restrictions, said Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Picture: Philippe Wojazer/REUTERS

Cape Chamber of Commerce: Level 4 prohibition of e-commerce ‘strange’

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published May 14, 2020

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Cape Town - It was odd that the ban on e-commerce was maintained under the level 4 restrictions, said Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

President Geoff Jacobs said even more strange was the reported reason for the continued ban, that selling goods on the internet would be unfair competition for spaza shops and other micro-businesses.

“Isn’t ordering goods, to be delivered to your home, only different in degree from collecting your daily bread from the bakery yourself?

“Are we not all being encouraged to work from home if we can, using the internet and choosing one of the increasing array of clever programmes to do so?”

Whatever the logic behind the ban, “it is clearly something we are not being told about, so the official silence virtually begs for public speculation”.

“The fact staring everyone in the face during these lockdown times is that digital marketing and sales are the way of the future, and already, in the medical and dental sectors, it’s the norm in manufacturing as well,” he said.

Jacobs said the ban on e-commerce was absurd as the possibility that spaza shop owners, and their customers, had cellphones had been ignored.

He said entrepreneurs, never being short of ideas, were sure to be taking orders by phone, with the goods being collected during the hours when exercise was permitted. “Is that not also a form of digital marketing? Lift the ban. It does not make sense.”

On Monday, premier Alan Winde said businesses, both large and small, had been harnessing technological advances to offer options that did not require people to go into a shop to buy what they needed.

“E-commerce could play a role in limiting infections in shops and shopping malls while still allowing businesses to operate. It is important e-commerce deliveries are conducted in such a way that they limit contact and risk for both the driver and for the package recipient.”

OneDayOnly.co.za director, Laurian Venter said by disallowing unfettered e-commerce, the risk of irreversibly damaging businesses that could not survive without unrestricted online sales skyrocketed.

The courier industry had been adversely affected, and a substantial portion of all couriered goods was directly related to e-commerce.

“The limits on e-commerce came in the wake of South Africa’s unceremonious degrading to junk status, thereby consciously throttling the one industry that can stimulate an otherwise stagnant economy,” Venter said.

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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