Following concerns about consumer online dissatisfaction, and also the degrading trust for online business, Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Dr. Kobby Mensah, has indicated that it has become necessary to regulate the online market.
While some argued that the space is huge and will be impossible to regulate, he says having a robust policy will make it possible.
“We need to have public sector intervention; we need some government agencies responsible for policing the online market in order that we can actually expand. We are talking about technology here; we need to invest in systems which can be robust enough… and you’ve got to ensure people are buying things that are wholesome so they receive exactly what’s expected; but that actually calls for regulations. It needs a strong regulatory system to police the online market.
“Currently, I don’t think we have a very strong regulatory system. We have the data protection agency that actually looks at how people’s data are being used, but we haven’t really had that conversation of who governs the online market.
“In the UK and elsewhere, you have policies like the seven days return policy – whereby when you buy something online and you think it’s not wholesome or not according to what you expected, the customer has every right to return it within seven days. And these systems came into being because there was a regulator,” he said
He made these remarks at the maiden edition of the Brand-CON Africa event, organised by B&FT in Accra themed ‘Celebrating Versatility and Innovation in the Midst of a Pandemic’ and focused on conversations about brands, branding and marketing.
Dr. Mensah intimated that regulation will further move most business transactions online, and is capable of solving unemployment challenges in the country. He also said without regulation, the country could be losing on tax revenue.
“If we have a strong regulatory framework, we will be able to capture how many people are doing online businesses. For now, I think quite a lot of online businesses are smallholder businesses, very micro level. They are providing huge employment. Now, how do we push people into the tax net? It’s about a regulatory framework – not to come up with any herculean tax that could burden or discourage them, though,” he said.
He also advised businesses, especially those operating online, to make a conscious effort to secure the trust of consumers; a situation that could reflect on sales and profitability.
“For me, the starting point is that companies themselves should take responsibility to ensure trust is very crucial to their business and to their profitability, and do what’s right,” he said.
Dr. Mensah further stated that it is imperative for brands to intentionally invest in themselves to assume the right image they desire.
“There have been changes in consumer behaviour, hence brands must adjust to scale up. In order for brands to stay relevant and adjust to consumer behaviour, they must continue to monitor consumers and crucially invest – taking swift actions to stay relevant,” he said.