It seems that authorities are making head or tail of understanding why eCommerce is not showing any positive signs of growth in the island. In this perspective, the ICTA (Information and Communication Technologies Authority) has recently published a public consultation exercise on the 26th of February 2014.
According to this national regulatory authority for the ICT sector and the postal services, Mauritians might be more willing to purchase and carry out payment transactions without any fear on local e-commerce web sites displaying the “Trust Seal” awarded by the local authorities on the following criteria, I quote :
- The e-Commerce service provider
- is reliable and trustworthy;
- its conditions of sale are clear and available on its website;
- respects all applicable laws of Mauritius;
- will advise the customer if ‘cookies’ are required for the processing of data.
- A dispute resolution procedure is in place if anything does go wrong during the transaction;
- The information provided by the customer to the trader will not be used for spamming
Bref, if you used eBay, you probably understood that they are trying to implement a similar customer protection and the trusted sellers concept. And if you are new to this type of shopping or you need more details on eBay and online shopping in general, you can always have a look at my series of articles.
Now, if you really want more details, you can have a look at their 25-pages document.
They are doing it the wrong way…
Several years back (in 2007 more exactly), I wrote an article on e-commerce within Mauritius. My blogger-friend Ashesh also wrote another article in 2010 to share his views on the matter but 7 years later, it is a shame that there hasn’t been any improvement in the sector.
Since the ICTA is only at the public consultancy phase for this “Trust Seal” project, they are inviting the public to submit their views and comments on this proposed idea of providing the necessary framework regarding the “Trust Seal”. And this post is all about my beliefs about the situation of e-commerce in Mauritius, its future and what is really needed to give it any chance to prosper.
I will go point-wise :
- Despite having spent thousands of rupees shopping online, I’m personally not interested at all to do any shopping online with local stores. Why? Is there any reason I should opt for online shopping while travelling across the island takes 1 hour maximum? When purchasing in Mauritius, I will definitely prefer to go to the shop itself and choose carefully what I’m looking for.
- Things are completely different as compared to shopping in world-wide stores on the net. Again from personal experience, I purchase from these stores (eBay, Amazon or other shops) because most often, they offer the product at a very competitive price which none of the local shops here can even dream of. And the products are immediately available for sale following their official launch, unlike those products which take several months to appear in the local stores.
- Purchasing online on worldwide stores is hassle free and very secure. In most cases, Paypal, one of the most used online payment methods, is widely accepted. What about Mauritius? Mauritian Paypal accounts cannot even receive money! Hence, there’s no legal framework and support to allow local merchants to offer the Paypal option in our country. They are all restricted to the SBM and MCB gateways! And some people think that we are living in a cyber island. Authorities should instead concentrate on collaborating with Paypal to see how they can help to add Mauritius to the list of countries in which sellers can open accounts without any problems! This will not only open a whole world of opportunities in terms of e-commerce but it will also allow people to work with foreign companies and get paid.
- And now, why will a company invest in a costly modern and effective e-commerce web site while it has several stores around the island? We all know that Mauritians have become shopping-malls-addict and thousands of Mauritian families prefer going for a stroll in the malls on weekends to spend some good time altogether. Do you believe those people will leave those malls and prefer to sit in front of their computer, tablet or smartphone to buy the same thing? Local stores around the island will definitely not be interested in spending money in a web site which will require regular maintenance and possibly one or several employees to keep it up-to-date and provide online support.
I say it loud and clear : Trust seals will definitely not boost online shopping in Mauritius. It will just be a ghost framework to which merchants will need to abide too and consequently, a probable source of revenue for the government and additional legal hassles for both customers and sellers. Instead of helping local stores to create an online identity easily and facilitate the paper-works, the authorities are only worsening things, i.e, lengthening the procedures of being “recognized” and making the inexistant local online market more competitive.
You can now share your own point of view and hopefully, the concerned authorities and persons in charge might read this post!