SAfm – Black Friday the Next Normal for SA retailers

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Published on Moneyweb - 2 November 2021
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JSE- and Nasdaq-listed Net1 UEPS Technologies has agreed to buy South African fintech company Connect Group for R3.7 billion in a blockbuster deal that it has described as “transformational” for its business.

In a statement, Net1 described Connect Group as a “profitable, high-growth and leading South African fintech” and said the acquisition will help it to become “South Africa’s leading fintech platform”.

Heritage Day and a long weekend is just about here, bringing with it, exciting trading opportunities for retailers. As always, managing cash will be a priority, given that it remains a cost-effective trading tool and the preferred payment method for many consumers, says Mark Templemore-Walters, operations director at Cash Connect, South Africa’s leading provider of automated cash management and payment solutions for retailers.

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The recent riots and looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal highlight just how vulnerable our retail sector is to crime.  At Cash Connect, we are aware that criminals are constantly finding new ways to get their hands on valuable goods and cash. 

Mark Templemore-Walters, operations director at Cash Connect, says that managing cash is a core part of a retail business. Cash is a cost-effective trading tool and the preferred payment method for many consumers, with 50 per cent of transactions in South Africa done in cash. In fact, the impact of cash crime on the SA economy is 5 times less than digital and card fraud. In a country with about 11 million unbanked citizens, cash payments enable financial inclusion.

CAPITAL Connect, a member of the Connect Group, has won the Retail Business Funder of the Year title in the 2021 Wealth & Finance FinTech Awards. This title was awarded to Capital Connect in recognition of the innovative business finance solutions it provides to the South African retail sector since its launch in 2018.

Nearly every small and medium-sized retailer in South Africa knows what it’s like to miss out on a special bulk pricing promotion from a supplier or lose the chance to stock up because it cannot access the financing it needs to grab the opportunity. Indeed, a 2020 PWC survey found that 22% of business owners ranked access to funding as their largest challenge.

At its heart, the retail industry is all about the efficient management of time and money. It’s about offering customers choice in payment method  while securely managing the cash that flows into the retail store. It’s about quick access to working capital necessary to pursue trading opportunities as they arise. And it’s about finding new ways to improve profit margin and increase revenues.

According to Steven Heilbron, CEO of the Connect Group, retailers have a key role to play in rebuilding the economy in the wake of the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to succeed in these difficult operating condition, small and medium sized retailers need to improve efficiencies, streamline cash flow and exploit new revenue streams.

Given that cash is here to stay, every responsible merchant needs to find ways to safeguard the cash on their premises. With smart, intelligent, and automated cash management, retail stores can trade with a greater sense of security.  

Despite the progressive drive towards all things digital, particularly in the financial space, cash is still king in South Africa. This is underpinned by findings in a 2019 report released by the Payments Association of SA stating that more than 50% of consumer transactions were completed with notes and coins.

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Following rumours that the President would introduce a fourth ban on alcohol sales over Easter, liquor traders should be relieved that there will only be a brief pause on alcohol sales for offsite consumption over the long weekend. In fact, many bottle store owners will benefit from brisk trade as people stock up ahead of the weekend, says Steven Heilbron, the CEO of the Connect Group.

The brief pause on alcohol sales will leave taverns, pubs, restaurants and other venues for onsite consumption unaffected, while bottle store owners will be able to enjoy strong sales leading to Easter and still get to enjoy a long weekend with their families.

The Easter weekend and upcoming school and public holidays are an important trading season for retailers, but they also often see crimes against retail businesses soar as criminals target commodities like premium liquor brands, cigarettes, jewellery and electronics. 

“With the exception of 2020, when there was a hard national lockdown in place, we have seen armed robberies and other business crimes spike over the Easter period in recent years,” says Mark Templemore-Walters, Operations Director for Cash Connect.