Many South African tech retailers and ecommerce stores were forced to shut their doors because of strict lockdown regulations which prohibit the sale of most products.
The decision by the government to prevent online stores from selling non-essential goods drew particularly sharp criticism.
Takealot CEO Kim Reid said ecommerce companies are an asset in the fight against coronavirus which the government should consider using.
He said that online stores which are allowed to sell essential items – like Takealot – should also be able to sell non-essential items.
Reid stated that ecommerce allows people to buy goods in an almost completely contactless way.
His view is shared by many other logistics and ecommerce businesses which asked Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel to allow online shopping and delivery to continue.
These businesses argue that allowing all goods to be transported domestically by professional courier companies will allow many businesses to continue operating.
They add that these sectors provide a valuable service to society while not adding undue risk to the further spread of COVID-19.
Tech retailers continue to operate
On Friday, the government published new regulations which listed Information and Communication Technology devices for education purposes as essential goods.
These ICT devices which can now be sold include desktops, laptops, modems, and other related devices.
This is good news for tech retailers and online shops, many of which have already started to operate by selling other essential goods.
Takealot has opened a specific section of essential products which allowed it to continue selling items to the public.
Takealot has, to date, focused on baby care, pet essentials, pantry basics, hair care, sanitizers, and first aid products.
Esquire has followed Takealot’s example and is selling essential and personal protection items such as face masks, face shields, hand sanitizers, and gloves.
Wootware re-opened its online store in early April and was able to deliver computer hardware in South Africa.
“We’ve been issued an operating permit by government and will continue processing and dispatching orders during the shutdown period,” the Wootware website states.
Evetech told its clients that they will be operational from Monday 20 April for all essential equipment and services. The full message is given below.