E-commerce is gradually leading the marketing world into the digital age and it has also been greatly fast-forwarded especially with the current pandemic status on countries that are causing a blight on economies and making the use of its innumerable opportunities even more profound.
Mr. Daniel Sarpong, the Head of digital strategy at Tonaton said,
“One thing e-commerce industries are doing to leverage is that they are ensuring the adequate supply of essentials and other necessary products that businesses, individuals, and households need, so it’s not just about having products or services on their online space and also having relevant things that people need now. It’s not just about having an e-commerce business, but entails what companies are doing to ensure the relevant things that businesses need, they have it on their sites now and they’re advertising it very well across a wide online spectrum”.
With current goings-on its presumably safe to assert that the spike in online purchases is nothing but a fluke, an immediate necessity, which will arguably mean ‘nothing’ to people once this virulent wind blows over. Sharing his sentiments on the issue, Mr. Sarpong explains that,
“The increase in patronage and activity is not going to reduce post-COVID-19, it will reduce to a level but not significantly. The reason it will reduce a little is that currently a lot of people are still on lockdown and working from home and a lot of these people are trying to buy online… Post-COVID-19 a lot of online meetings are going to be the new normal, a lot of employers will allow their staff to work from home because there is the realization that a lot of work activities can be done at home and online… people are building a lifestyle with online purchases, businesses and delivery”.
Some businesses believe in close contact, interaction and working space to feel functional in their workplaces. The conventional way of doing business is their safe place and e-commerce is relatively seen as the villain invading their safe bubble, and while some are gradually towing on the digital lane others are still sitting on the fence to watch the “it’s a wrap” ending. Mr. Sarpong envisaged,
“Europe has already taken the lead, but some parts of Africa are on the brink of a tech takeover and so brick and mortar companies have started going online, finding out different ways to grow their online market, social media engagements, etc. Although some don’t really care, those who do, don’t know what and how to do it, and most businesses are actually not ready to even though it's clear that they must move online. Some are still stuck on what they wanted to do and they won’t see the effects now, but in a few years they will start going out of business”.
According to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, global e-commerce reached $25 trillion in 2015 with the highest growth being observed in developing regions, especially in Asia. Various factors may slow or even derail the development of the digital economy with effects differing between countries and stakeholders depending on their levels of development and capabilities to adapt. In view of this, the success of e-commerce largely depends on government willingness to also cushion the digital sectors. Our expert was of the view that
“This is the time government must also know that businesses must be comprehensively educated as there are a lot of options to transact online. Also, policies in ensuring high connectivity in the regions to necessitate its implementation are important, and they should seek to maximize potential benefits and opportunities and cope with relevant challenges and costs”.
For any new phenomenon, sustainability is one crucial element and its growth largely depends on a government’s reception and cooperation with the agents, by creating an amiable environment for it to bud. Mr. Sarpong quipped,
“I believe Ghana is ready for the overhaul in the digital age as the internet penetration in the country has increased over the years, it has been due to the efforts of the public and some private enterprises. A lot of companies are going online, doing delivery and most of the youth and startups are doing something online, either they’re developing an app, website, or online buying from platforms, so I reckon the future is bright for our digital space”.
The internet space can go south with the proliferation of cybercrimes and abuse by ‘predators’ who can pry on the vulnerability of the unsuspecting user of these websites and apps. To this, he said,
“Unscrupulous people are always looking for an advantage to abuse users, so a concerted effort from the government, the general public and stakeholders must be accelerated by proper regulations of online activities in order to curb such nefarious activities".