SA Trade and Industry Sector Relies on E-Commerce

By:Precious M. Lesupi

The Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, has gazetted directions that provide for a wide range of goods to be available to South Africans through e-Commerce platforms. This follows the announcement by President Ramaphosa that e-Commerce would be expanded beyond what has been announced already.

Subject to all applicable laws, all goods will be available for purchase through e-Commerce platforms excluding the sale of liquor and tobacco, which are still prohibited during Alert Level 4. These products will be reconsidered in the future when the Regulations permit their sale.

According to the sector, these directions enable the sale of products through e-commerce platforms and delivery systems that are currently not available at retail outlets, including household appliances, electronic goods, furniture, books, music, gym products, the full range of clothing and footwear products, household utensils and others.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) key focus regarding the e-Commerce directions is on the health, safety, and other protocols that need to be followed by retailers, delivery personnel and customers.

“We strongly believe in the value of e-Commerce as a critical enabler to opening the economy through contactless transactions. This can reduce the movement of consumers, and the density of shoppers in retail spaces. Further it can accelerate innovation, support local manufacturing and increase access by the informal market and poorer South Africans,” said Patel.

The directions outline the importance of hygienic workplace conditions, social distancing, the wearing of masks, regular monitoring of workers’ health and the need for sanitisation, among other health protocols.

To limit the social and economic hardship caused by the pandemic on local industries and enable consumer choice to support local producers, the directions encourage retailers to give prominence to goods manufactured in South Africa.

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