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Posted by Sureswipe on 3 April 2019

It is possible to keep your doors open, your business trading and your bottom line growing during rolling blackouts. The lights may be out, but your business doesn’t have to be left in the dark. Here’s how.

We’re all concerned about the effects that load-shedding is already having on our businesses.


The reality is that for the near future at least, load-shedding is here to stay. Instead of fearing the worst, take advantage to drive customer loyalty, increase foot traffic to your store and still keep your doors open while your competitors are closed.

Our load-shedding guide offers actionable tips to not only survive prolonged and frequent power outages but thriving through them.

  1. Combat blackouts with back-up power

    You can survive without the lights on while still offering your customers the ability to pay for their goods, but the lack of power will mean that your customers might be shopping your aisles in the dark.

    While some retailers might be able to open blinds and doors to let natural light flow into the shop, this doesn’t solve the problem of refrigeration or stores that do not have access to natural light.  If you rely on fridges to keep your goods cool and fresh, outages could affect your stock, resulting in spoiled goods.

    Finance that will help you keep the lights on

    Generators and Invertors are available to help you solve these problems – but at a cost. While most retail owners realise that the upfront cost is worth the long-term savings, cash flow can be an inhibitor.

    Sureswipe is able to assist you with a Cash Advance solution that will help you finance your generator.
    The solution’s flexible repayment options ensure you have greater control over your cash flow; the higher your swipe value, the quicker you  repay the business finance back.

    The more customers you swipe, the faster you’ll repay the advance. Sureswipe will also safeguard that you don’t run into further cash flow constraints through flexible repayment amounts.

  2.  Process payments while the power is out

    Some card machines connect via Wi-Fi and some connect using a SIM cards to process payments. Rolling blackouts therefore impact the connectivity of card payment devices – negatively affecting sales unless you have a backup device on another network.

    Here’s how to ensure you can still accept card payments during load-shedding:

    • - It is often the network connectivity that goes down and not the device, which makes the ability to access another network critical while load-shedding
         continues. It is always advisable to have a dual SIM on hand during this period.
    • - Consider getting a mobile card machine that is 3G-enabled, so that when your Wi-Fi goes down you can still use a 3G signal to close sales.
    • - MOVE, Sureswipe’s leading mobile payments solution, allows you to process debit and credit card transactions safely and securely using your smartphone or
         tablet’s network connection, simply by connecting the MOVE device to your mobile or tablet. This completely eliminates your reliance on the power grid in 
         terms of processing payments (provided your devices are charged and your network has not been impacted).


    Remember, you can check your cellphone network connectivity strength during loadshedding on Down Dector, click here

    Built-in contingency plans

    It isn’t only fibre lines and Wi-Fi that are affected by power outages however – cellular providers also rely on power to provide connectivity.

    “Generally, back-up batteries have a capacity for six to 12 hours and require roughly 12 to 18 hours to recharge,” explains Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN South Africa’s executive for corporate affairs. “Where consecutive load-shedding took place, batteries are unable to fully recharge, resulting in reduced back-up time.”

    Meanwhile, Vodacom clients aren’t able to access any services when backup power at their towers becomes depleted.

    To address how cellular networks are affected by load-shedding, consider the following:

    • -If you have a card payment solution that accesses one network, installing an additional card payment device as a back-up on a different network will help you 
       keep making sales despite blackouts.
    • - Sureswipe MOVE mobile machines that link to your cellphone also serve as a backup machine, make sure its fully charged before you start swiping ahead of
         load shedding.


  3.   Leverage off sales spikes with trending products

    From a retailer’s perspective, there are also some benefits to load-shedding if you’re able to tap into a rise in specific product categories that consumers require during power outages.

    From candles to torches, long-life milk to dry goods and canned food, braai meals, camping gear and gas burners, as well as invertors and portable power packs, customers are looking for ways to improve their ‘load-shedding’ lifestyles.

    Capture a greater share of wallet

    Adjusting your product mix to cater to a growing segment of consumers who are changing their spending habits to adapt to lower supplies in electricity, not only shows your customers that you understand their current predicament, but it allows you to diversify spend and capture a greater share of wallet.

    Make sure you test different product categories before over-stocking however – you don’t want to end up with stock that you can’t move because other solutions prove more popular, durable or user-friendly.


  4. Drive customer loyalty

    The knock-on effect of load-shedding is broad and varied. For example, increased traffic pressures mean customers think twice before spending even more time in their cars to hit the shops.

    This means that as a retailer, you need to incentivize your customers to brave the traffic just for you.

    Get the edge over your competitors

    A loyalty programme is an excellent way to boost traffic to your store. Our research shows that retailers can increase customers’ basket spend by up to 24% within 12 months of introducing a loyalty programme, but more importantly, when it comes to load-shedding, a loyalty programme gives you the ability to market directly to your customers.

    • - SMS your customers and let them know that you’re still open during load-shedding hours.
    • - Let them know what solutions are available to relieve the challenges associated with load-shedding
        Stay top-of-mind through continuous engagement while your competitors are closed.


    Focus on the bottom line

    Load-shedding doesn’t have to impact your store negatively. You can see an increase in foot traffic and grow your revenue if you apply tactics that will put you ahead of your competitors, whether there are rolling blackouts or not.

Topics: business tips

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