By Itohan Abara-Laserian
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says there is the need for stakeholders in the e-Commerce space to adhere strictly to standards to grow the sector.
The organisation made the call when it met with the stakeholders at a forum in Lagos, tagged “The Role of Standards and Quality Regulation in Electronic Commerce’’.
The organisation said that it had become imperative for stakeholders to provide solutions that would ensure safe and secure transactions, assurance of quality, consumer protection and boost the sector.
The Director General, SON, Mr Osita Aboloma, said that imbibing standards in e-Commerce would go a long way to facilitate trade, promote global competitiveness, economic growth and development.
He said the need to promote awareness on standards and quality regulations in the sector was to ensure a safe and secure online platforms for sales of goods and services.
It will also enhance trade within Nigeria and across borders that will ultimately increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation, he noted.
The SON boss, represented by the Director, Corporate Affairs, Dr Paul Angya, said e-Commerce was a business that is on the rise, hence, it was apt and crucial for the standardisation and regulation of the quality of products and services traded through the cyberspace.
According to him, the promotion of awareness on standards and quality regulation has become necessary as the drive for digitalised market places increase and the pressure on the standards community mounts.
“This requires that all stakeholders reckon fully with the realities of the competitive and fast-paced global economy,’’ he said in a statement.
“Having identified that the roles played by stakeholders in this sector is key to the growth and development of the nation, the participants and this forum have been carefully selected.
“From consumers to consumer groups, telecommunications companies, banks, airlines, regulatory bodies, advertising practitioners, embassies and trade charters and online marketers and dealers are expected to chart a way forward for e-Commerce in Nigeria.’’
Aboloma said that with the increasing volumes of consumer complaints being received on the quality of products and services sold online, it has become necessary to have a robust regulatory framework to drive e-commerce.
“For instance, products like mobile phones, electrical and electronic devices cannot be physically viewed and tested before purchase online, while the claims on what they can do have been found in many cases to be inaccurate or sometimes outrightly false.
“It is expected that decisions reached at this forum today, will foster positive change that will ensure improved customer satisfaction and consumer protection.
“That will ultimately guarantee the safety and security of online sales and marketing as well as ensure that only quality goods and services are provided for the consumers,’’ he said.
He urged the participants to take optimum advantage of the forum to discuss pertinent issues with online marketers and the regulatory bodies to attract more investors into the sector.
An official of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Mr Babatunde Irukera, said e-commerce was the way of the future, noting that technology was disrupting the traditional ways of commerce and trade.
Irukera noted that as consumers were becoming more sophisticated, so also is the role of consumer protecting authorities all over the world to ensure that they were as dynamic as the sophistication of consumers.
“What we believe at CPC is that any e commerce platform must capture the responsibilities of providing consumers good quality for money spent.
“This is why the question of returns, refunds and warranties are very important to us.
“We are in the process of writing new regulations with respect to returns, refunds and warranties while paying rapt attention to e-Commerce with respect to that.
“We must find a way to promote e-Commerce, while at the same time, promote the interest and safety of the consumer,’’ he said.
On his part, the Director, Product Certification Directorate, SON, Tersoo Orngudwen, said standards were global, and noted that Nigeria must embrace standards as it was done everywhere.
He said the forum was aimed at making e-Commerce seamless, while taking cognisance of standards.
The president, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Shola Ajulo, said that Nigeria had caught up with e-Commerce businesses and also possess the skill required to ensure protection not just for physical markets, but for the online markets.
“I hope today, the consumers, regulators and service providers come up with agreements that will go a long way to protect the consumers and the online markets.
“We want to address things like warranties, refunds, returns, misleading adverts, because on-line marketers are taken undue advantage of so many consumers are being taken advantage of,’’ she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the awareness event on digital marketing was attended by operators and relevant stakeholders in business, commerce, trade, investment, communications and other relevant sectors of the nation’s economy. (NAN)