How Retailers can Survive a COVID-disrupted festive season

More than 22 million South African shoppers are clicking “add to cart” at least once a month

“With the Bureau of Market Research forecasting that South African retailers will generate close to R130 billion in sales over the festive season, this peak trading period is crucial to boost sales and profit margins”, says Steven Heilbron, CEO of Capital Connect. “Yet with a new wave of COVID-19 engulfing the country and the prosect of new lockdown regulations in the weeks to come, retailers will need to be innovative and agile to make the most of seasonal trade this year.”

Heilbron notes that the pandemic has led to lower consumer spending in 2021, but it has also sparked a range of opportunities. Just look at how many businesses have adapted and come to market with propositions that are relevant for the times we are living through, says Heilbron. “This is a time for retailers to drive innovative thinking, outsmart competitors to attract customers, and use fintech tools to move fast on execution.”

Heilbron shares some ideas about how retailers can innovate to make the best of the festive season and position themselves to capitalise on growth opportunities throughout the year:

Get creative with digital marketing

With many shoppers likely to avoid shops and malls, businesses once again need to turn to digital channels to reach their customers. A festive season competition on social media or an advent digital calendar countdown with festive specials each day are great ways to engage. Another option is livestreaming content such as product unboxings and demonstrations to give ecommerce a bit more of a human feel. Sales reps can be on hand to answer customer questions or show them how a product works online.

Say hello to a choice of channels

Retailers that don’t have a digital dimension to their business, risk losing business from shoppers who are avoiding crowds and indoor venues during the Omicron wave. There is still time for them to use ecommerce to enable their businesses by joining a home delivery platform like MrD or Uber Eats, starting their own home delivery or click-and-collect service, or even developing an app or ecommerce store. This will set them up to thrive even beyond the pandemic, not only retaining customers but reaching new ones with a holistic customer shopping journey. 

>> Find out about Digital Retail Africa 2022

Adapt & Diversify

Steven Heilbron: CEO of Capital Connect – SA’s Retail Business Funder of the Year

Even when market growth is slow and social distancing measures are in place, there are still opportunities to diversify a business and get more wallet share from existing customers. Adding new products and services to the mix can create opportunities to cross and up-sell. We have, for example, seen some supermarket chains accelerate growth in recent years by expanding into liquor trade or clothing.

“There are many ways for retailers to grow their business and the capital to fuel that growth is readily available, for example to invest in a delivery fleet or an ecommerce enabled website. Despite the perception that the bank is the only safe and credible option for a merchant that requires access to working capital, other financing is available,” says Heilbron.

“Alternative business loans from fintechs, like Capital Connect, offer business funding without the red-tape, and are developed with the retailer’s needs in mind. Capital Connect firmly believes that it is crucial to allow smaller, independent retailers to have quick access to trading capital, especially those who don’t have the benefit of business funding through retail chain groups.”

Capital Connect gives retailers access to hassle-free capital injections in 24 hours to ensure that they don’t miss a business opportunity. Retailers simply log into an app to Click & Borrow, and the funds will appear in their bank account on the next day, or even faster.

Staff writer