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Apply standards to drive digital marketing, SON urges operators

Apply standards to drive digital marketing, SON urges operators

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Anna Okon

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria has urged stakeholders in the e-commerce space to adhere strictly to standards in order to ensure safe and secure transactions, assurance of quality and consumer protection.

The Director-General, SON, Osita Aboloma, stated this during a stakeholders’ forum in Lagos tagged ‘The role of standards and quality regulation in electronic commerce’.

The SON boss, who was represented by the Director, Corporate Affairs, SON, Dr. Paul Angya, noted that imbibing standards in e-commerce would go a long way in facilitating trade, promoting global competitiveness, economic growth and development.

According to him, e-commerce is a business on the rise, adding that it is crucial for the standardisation and regulation of the quality of products and services being traded through the cyberspace.

Ensuring safe and secure online platforms for sale of goods and services to enhance trade within Nigeria and across borders would ultimately increase the Gross Domestic Product of the nation, he noted.

Aboloma added that the promotion of awareness on standards and quality regulation in the e-commerce sector had become necessary as the drive for digitalised market places increased and the pressure on the standards community mounted.

He stressed that with the increasing volume of consumer complaints being received on the quality of products and services sold online, it had become necessary to have a robust regulatory framework in place to drive the e-commerce sector.

“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 outright false,” he said.

On his part, the Director-General, Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera, said that e-commerce was the way of the future, pointing out that technology was disrupting traditional commerce and trade.

He noted that as consumers were becoming more sophisticated, so also was the role of consumer protecting authorities all over the world to ensure that they were as dynamic as the sophistication of consumers.

He said, “What we believe at the CPC is that e-commerce platforms must capture the responsibilities of availing consumers with good quality for money spent.

“This is why the issues 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 promoting the interest and safety of the consumer.”

He said the challenge facing the e-commerce space was the nature of its ‘borderlessness’, stressing that there were jurisdictional issues on whether some of the online marketers were providing goods and services within the jurisdiction of the CPC.

The Director, Product Certification Directorate, SON, Tersoo Orngudwen, said that standards were global and that Nigeria must embrace standards as done everywhere in the world.

The President, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, Shola, Ajulo, said the forum was a welcome development, noting  that Nigeria had caught up with the e-commerce business and possessed  the skill required to ensure protection not just for physical markets, but the online markets.

“We want to address things such as warranties, refunds, returns, misleading adverts, because online marketers are taken undue advantage of. I am hoping that we would be able to have some checks and balances to make sure that the online market is safe,” she said.

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