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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that government will lift the state of disaster once other measures to manage the Covid-19 response are finalised, is a signal to South African retailers that it’s time to invest in growth and renewal again. Those that move fast will be able to get a competitive edge in the next normal. 

“The President’s announcement in his State of the Nation Address on 10 February 2022 indicates that we are moving into the next phase of the pandemic,” says Timo Hansen, Head of Credit at Capital Connect. “Though it seems unlikely that we’ll revert completely to the old normal, we can expect to see compelling growth opportunities for retailers in this new stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Hansen notes that consumers and their behaviours have shifted during the pandemic, meaning that it can’t simply be business as usual. To maximise their opportunities as people start to go back to the office and move around more, retailers will need to refresh their channel, merchandising and pricing strategies.
Hansen highlights some of these refreshing opportunities that can ensure retail businesses thrive this year:

  • Omni-channel shopping: While online shopping has grown dramatically over the past two and a half years, it is the combination of online and bricks-and-mortar trade that gives the best results. Retailers that offer customers a choice of shopping options and deliver consistent experiences at each touchpoint will be the big winners this year. Home deliveries, click-and-collect and ecommerce are all great growth opportunities in a changing market.

  • Food and coffee facilities: Give consumers more reason to visit and linger by offering coffee and meals in store. Retailers could offer take-aways or create a space where browsers can sit to use a Wi-Fi network. It’s a simple, yet effective way to attract customers during periods of load shedding.

  • Bulk buying: Now is a great time to buy stock in bulk at discounted rates. Retailers could either offer discounts to price sensitive customers to drive volumes or sell goods at bigger margins to increase profits.

  • Store revamps: With shoppers getting out and about again, now is an ideal time for retailers to give their store a make-over to attract more foot-traffic and grow revenue. Retail stores may even see a spike of more than 10% in turnover following a renovation.

  • Destination shopping: To attract the online shopper to their physical stores, retailers need to offer experiences that can’t be replicated in digital channels. They should capitalise on all the senses – see, smell, taste, touch, feel. Offer DIY workshops, demos, and the opportunity to get hands-on with the product. Hardware stores for example can offer in-store workshops to show customers how to lay laminate flooring, or a soft toy shop can offer a ‘stuff your favourite toy’ workshop to lure more shoppers.

Hansen says, “When we talk to retailers about growth, we hear two misconceptions: one, that they don’t need funding because they are cash flow positive, and two, that funding is impossible to access within 24 hours.

Yet it’s worth stressing that quick access to funding can ideally be utilised to capitalise on businesses opportunities as and when they present themselves, not just keeping the doors open.

“And when it comes to accessing business funding, innovative fintech lenders, like Capital Connect, offers easy access to growth capital with flexible and attractive terms. Retailers can access short term, unsecured capital of up to R5 million* in 24 hours to ensure that they don’t lose out on business opportunities. They simply log into an app to Click & Borrow and the funds will appear in their bank account by the next day, or the same day.

“The loan can be repaid in small daily instalments, making it an affordable way for retailers to access opportunity capital. In these times, with today’s Next Normal, each day offers fresh opportunities to grow a retail business and move it to the next level. Business funding is available – it’s up to each retailer to think about how to grow, boost its retail business and outsmart its competition.”