Ecommerce: pan-African 'trust mark' to be launched

Cape Town – Due to the importance of establishing trust in digital trade in Africa, Ecommerce Forum Africa (EFA) plans to launch what it calls a pan-African ecommerce "trust mark".

This is because the EFA finds the issue of trust is still an impediment to the accelerated growth and adoption of digital trade on the continent. The challenge of trust was in fact the impetus for establishing the EFA, its chair Dylan Piatti announced at the DHL eCommerce Money Africa conference in Cape Town on Thursday.

The EFA wants to help create more trust in ecommerce, because it regards digital trade as essential for economic growth and development on the continent.

The aim of the "trust mark" is to establish the best potential ecommerce partners, because the EFA regards partnerships as very important in the sector.

Piatti, the senior chief of staff: consumer, retail and manufacturing at Deloitte, said the EFA is already talking to a number of African countries about establishing a "pan-African ecommerce trust mark". Legal experts are on board to help with the process.

Shift in mindset

In his presentation Piatti said a shift in mindset is needed about the way the world is viewed. Three paradigms form the basis of how ecommerce is impacting trade. These are transformation and disruption, value, and leadership, in his view.

“When one talks about ecommerce in Africa, many people still claim it will take their jobs away. For me, however, technology can be used to complement existing aspects to make it better for all," said Piatti.

“There is an intersection taking place between different worlds and different eco-systems are coming together.”

In his view, more leadership is needed in Africa regarding ecommerce – both on national as well as individual level.

“In Africa there is a need for a greater ability to accept that there are certain things we simply don’t know. Leadership on the ecommerce field is, therefore, both a massive challenge as well as a great opportunity,” he said.

“It relates to how decisions are being made, not only in businesses and organisations, but also about how families are accepting and embracing change in the way they make decisions.”

Despite ecommerce still being relatively small as a proportion of retail revenue in SA, in his view, the time is right for the ecommerce sector in the country to “think and sell differently”.

Consumers are "evolving dynamically" in what they are looking for and the consumer must be placed at the centre of the ecommerce process.

Ecommerce enables producers to go directly to consumers, for instance. This leads to sellers risking falling out of the game or having to change their entire business models. They, therefore, need the ability to think and act differently.
That is why the aim of the EFA is to drive the sustainable growth and development of ecommerce in Africa. It is driving a pan-African collaborative approach as well as engaging on an international level.

Skills development, especially among the youth, is regarded by the EFA as very important as well as looking at ecommerce payments and regulation regarding tax and legal aspects. Furthermore, research is regarded as very important as well as looking at disruptions in logistics brought about by digital trade.

The EFA furthermore wants to work with the relevant authorities in SA to set up an ecommerce dispute process. It would like to get some kind of governance structure and code of conduct established that will help with creating trust in the ecommerce environment, according to Piatti.

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