South African retailers have faced numerous challenges over the past three years, including the pandemic, disrupted supply chains, high inflation and the power crisis. But forward-thinking retailers are finding opportunities to grow their businesses by adapting to new trends and helping their customers weather the storm.
“There are always ways for innovative small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to outsmart their competition and grow their businesses,” says Steven Heilbron, CEO of Capital Connect, a fintech company that offers fast and flexible business funding to South African retailers. “They’re leveraging fast access to funding to jump on exciting business opportunities whenever they present themselves, without having to jump through hoops.”
South African SMEs are showing remarkable grit, adds Heilbron, with one recent survey showing that 74% of SMEs have grown over the past year and nine in ten are confident that they will survive the next five years.
Heilbron outlines five ways that retailers could use quick access to unsecured opportunity capital to outwit the competition and increase their profits.
Thinking out of the ‘box’
We all know the expression but are we actually considering different ways of doing things? If you’re looking for a way to quickly grow your business, why not consider deploying a containerised coffee shop, takeaway or store in a high traffic area? With price points in the tens of thousands of rand, shipping container shops are a quick and affordable way to grow your presence or diversify your offering. The approval process is generally quick and you have flexibility to relocate when you want to.
Fuelling productivity during load shedding
If you have floor space to spare in your store, consider putting workstations, plug points and high speed internet in place to attract remote and mobile workers. Some fuel stations are, for example, creating workstations to encourage people to meet and work in their shops. It’s a great way to attract footfall and spending customers who need a place to be productive during load shedding or in between their meeting commutes.
Provide free in-store WiFi to enhance the shopping experience for shoppers, especially Generation Z customers. Let them check online reviews or social media while shopping. You can also collect customer data (with their permission) to send them promos and special offers as well as use the Wi-Fi sign-in page to showcase your deals and products.
Install self-service checkout systems or equip sales associates with mobile point of sale systems to facilitate faster, more efficient checkout experiences. It can help to reduce queues at the point of sale and allow your staff to focus on other aspects of the customer experience.
In a world where consumers expect service on-demand, delivery time is becoming a key differentiator. Same-day delivery for groceries and many other products isn’t good enough, many customers expect delivery within an hour or less. Purchasing your own delivery vehicle or scooter lets you meet this need, without relying on a third-party logistics partner.
Tech-powered upselling and cross-selling
Ecommerce stores have mastered using recommendations to get their customers to increase their basket sizes. But affordable digital tech such as interactive displays can enable you to achieve the same in your physical store. For example, a liquor store could install an interactive display that gives customers recommendations for wines that match the meal they are preparing, their mood and their tastes.
Reengineering for a new world
Dion Chang, founder of Flux Trends says: “Leading retailers are reengineering their businesses to meet the needs of customers whose behaviours have shifted firstly because of COVID-19 and second because of load shedding. They are finding opportunities to diversify and grow their business in response to consumer trends, such as the shift to hybrid working models, the demand for omni-channel customer experiences, an expectation of personalised service on-demand, and a need to manage spending carefully in a down economy.”
Heilbron says: “With consumer spending and confidence at low levels, retailers need to be smart and agile to grow. Fast access to unsecured business funding is the key to seizing opportunities as they arise. Fintech providers are making it easier for retailers to access the funds they need to move the needle. With Capital Connect, you can apply for a loan of up to R5 million opportunity capital from our app and the funds will be in your bank account within 24 hours, or less.”