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How SA’s Online Retailers Can Cash In On Black Friday Fever

With less than 11 days to go for major retail brands as well as niche players, preparation is key. From negotiating deals with suppliers to ensuring delivery logistics run smoothly, PriceCheck’s CEO, Kevin Tucker and Justin Drennan, CEO of Parcelninja, provide some key elements that retailers should be thinking about.

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With less than 11 days to go for major retail brands as well as niche players, preparation is key. From negotiating deals with suppliers to ensuring delivery logistics run smoothly, PriceCheck’s CEO, Kevin Tucker and Justin Drennan, CEO of Parcelninja, provide some key elements that retailers should be thinking about.

Black Friday is fast approaching, and SA’s online retailers should be preparing to harness the opportunities presented by retail’s most famous day.

Falling on 25 November this year, Black Friday marks the beginning of the festive shopping season and sees retailers offering major deals and discounts across various product categories. Although it is an American tradition, Black Friday fever has certainly caught on in South Africa and local e-tailers – both established brands and small, niche players – have a golden moment to showcase the benefits of e-commerce through offering great deals and seamless delivery.

Related: 5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

Win loyal customers for life with proper preparation

“By offering attractive deals and discounts on the day, SA’s online retailers can generate that all-important brand awareness and win loyal customers for life,” says Kevin Tucker, founder of leading product discovery and comparison service, PriceCheck.

“It is difficult, however, on such a high-profile day to break through the noise and the clutter – so the right preparation is critical to success.”

Such preparation should include negotiating deals with suppliers and distributors ahead of time, so that the deals can be properly marketed and consumers are aware of what’s on offer. Brands should also invest in digital marketing tools, advanced website functionality and content marketing (blogs, social media, etc).

The PriceCheck platform will also be offering brands – of all sizes and across sectors – a place to showcase their Black Friday deals. Over 100 Black Friday deals will be listed, and in some cases, consumers can purchase directly from the site.

“By giving SA’s online retailers a central and well-loved digital ‘shopfront’ on which to boost their Black Friday deals, we are essentially enabling brands to market themselves at minimal cost,” adds Tucker. “So PriceCheck is in effect ‘democratising’ the (notoriously expensive) process of winning customers – and allowing brands of all sizes to compete on an even playing field this upcoming Black Friday.”

Taking care of the biggest headache – logistics and delivery

parcelninja

Fortunately for local e-tailers, and specifically for the small niche players, this leveling of the playing field is extending beyond the marketing and digital sphere. One of the traditional bugbears for SA’s online merchants is the efficient fulfilment of logistics and delivery – a challenge that will be magnified (and multiplied) with the Black Friday shopping bonanza.

“Based on last year, we are expecting sales numbers and order volumes to multiply by 15 this Black Friday,” says Justin Drennan, CEO of Parcelninja, a specialist warehouse and logistics company that serves e-commerce businesses including Superbalist, Grabit, DCStore, Juniva, Action Gear and Kids Emporium.

“Local brands and e-tailers need to ensure that they are prepared, and have partnered with distributors and service providers (such as couriers) who are able to manage a huge spike in demand on the day.”

Related: How To Prepare Your Business To Win Big On Black Friday

According to Drennan, this might well require additional investment into new technology, infrastructure, systems and even people. By failing to have the right resources in place, brands might not be able to deliver Black Friday orders in a timely and efficient manner – which can result in irreparable brand damage.

“We are finding that the major retailers in particular are not efficiently delivering online orders to individual customers, as they are geared for bulk orders,” he adds.

“On the other hand, smaller e-tailers with fewer resources are often not paying attention to the last mile [delivery]…and how the product actually finds its way to the right person on time. This is where technology, such as the cloud-based Parcelninja offering, can enable brands and merchants of all sizes to enhance their customer service and door to door delivery – and leverage the growing interest in local e-commerce.”

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The Innovator Trust And Citi Are Searching For Black-Owned Smes Who Are Ready For Growth

The Innovator Trust, an enterprise development organisation, and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Africa’s oldest incubator, are calling on Cape Town-based growth-stage ICT entrepreneurs to join the intensive 2-year enterprise development programme.

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The ICT sector has gone from strength to strength and is one of the fastest-growing industries on the African continent. Yet African entrepreneurs are still finding it a difficult business landscape to navigate. That is why The Innovator Trust and CiTi, through exposure, training and mentorship, now aim to equip entrepreneurs and businesses in the sector with tools that will keep them on track, assist them to achieve their goals and create tech leaders of the future.

ICT entrepreneurs in need of mentorship, skills development and business support who have been operating for more than 2 years and are fiercely committed to growing their business, can now apply to the prestigious 2-year Innovator Trust programme, co-developed and run by CiTi at the Woodstock Bandwidth Barn and remotely in Cape Town. Applications close on 22 February and the selected candidates will be announced on 4 March.

The Innovator Trust programme aims to support the: increase annual turnover, equip businesses with the necessary accreditation to remove red tape, as well as increase profitability and number of employees. Get ready to move the dial on your business.

Celebrating its 20th year of supporting entrepreneurs, CiTi currently runs a number of incubation programmes from idea to growth stage. After a very successful first cohort of the programme, completed in 2018, CiTi confirmed a second collaboration with the Innovator Trust to support further Cape Town businesses over the next two years. Applicants need to be in “ICT”, but this has included a broad range of focusses in the past, from IT recruitment, network security to cabling service provider and software solutions.

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

The programme, designed by CiTi and Innovator Trust, is not to be taken lightly. Monthly training, mentorship sessions with industry experts, and a strong focus on technical improvements means a substantial time and focus commitment by the entrepreneur. But this intensive design enables significant business progression over the two years.

 “Once the entrepreneurs who take part in our Enterprise Development programmes become more established, they turn their focus to growth. This accelerator is especially for entrepreneurs who’ve created businesses with high-growth potential and provides them with the skills to scale at speed and responsibly,” says Tashline Jooste, CEO of the Innovator Trust.

Cape Town was recently confirmed as the Tech Hub of Africa, by an Endeavor Insight Report commissioned by CiTi and partners, presenting growing opportunities for those businesses serious about growth, and with the right support.

“I believe strongly that ICT entrepreneurs are going to be critical to South Africa’s economic growth, which is why we need to focus on equipping these businesses with the skills they need to grow, create jobs and stimulate our economy,” adds Jooste.

In order to be considered for the programme, prospective applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A company defined in South Africa as an SMME, QSE or EME;
  • Must be operational and trading for two or more years;
  • The business should be at least 51% black-owned;
  • A minimum Level 1 – 4 BBBEE status according to the DTI or ICT Codes;
  • The business must be a registered company with key focus in ICT and be based in Cape Town and surrounding areas.

In addition, applicants will need to supply copies of their company registration, company profile, and annual financial statements along with their BEE certificate and IDs with their applications.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

“We had a fantastic experience on the Innovator Trust programme, perhaps most beneficial was the advice and mentorship on our financial management, up-skilling of our team, and establishing a 3-year budget and growth plan for the business. Our advice to entrepreneurs considering the course is “JUST DO IT!!!” The skills and knowledge you gain are invaluable and put us on a serious growth trajectory.” states Jennifer Classen, Founder of Ngaphaya Y2K10, and Participant in the 2015 – 2018 Innovator Trust programme.

Ready to grow your business? Learn more about the programme and submit your application HERE.

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Rocket Challenge Targets Local Coding Skills

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

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Addressing the growing skills gap within software development, local information technology value added distributor, Axiz has sponsored the Rocket APT Challenge and encouraged 39 students to participate in the regional round of the Rocket.Build coding challenge. This comprises 40% of the total numbers of entries received globally. Hosted by Rocket Software and APT Solutions, this annual challenge provides a forum for participants to develop applications on Rocket’s MultiValue platform.

Colleen Becker, Axiz pre-sales engineer, says that the response to the challenge was exceptional and the company is excited to be part of this global initiative: “This is a fantastic innovation challenge that provides students with an opportunity to hone their coding skills on a leading software platform. South Africa is by far the bigger pool of entrants and we are excited to see who is selected for the global Rocket.Build 2019 Hackathon.”

Participants are required to design an app on Rocket’s MultiValue application platform in support of the challenge theme: ‘Improve your Community’. Consisting of three regions: EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas, three winners from each region will be selected and awarded a cash prize of:

  • $1,000 (USD) – third place
  • $2,500 (USD) – second place
  • $5,000 (USD) – first place

Related: Want To Take Your Coding To The Next Level? Check Out These 7 Productivity Hacks

The nine developers will also be given an all-expenses-paid trip to Massachusetts, USA in June 2019 to participate in Rocket.Build 2019, where they will compete in teams of three to decide the global winner of the Rocket APT Challenge. The winning team will share a grand prize of $24,000 (USD).

Becker says that this is the first year Axiz is participating and the company will definitely register for the 2020 challenge, recruiting of which starts in September 2019: “We are committed to grow the number of young coders on the Rocket platform. There is a global opportunity for students to graduate into a developing industry and support the growing shortage of MultiValue-certified coders. Participants also stand the chance of receiving an internship from participating partners across all industry sectors.”

The Rocket APT Challenge is open to undergraduate students 18 years of age or older who are currently studying engineering, science, or technology at an accredited college or university.

For more information, contact colleen.becker@axiz.com

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SMEs: Have You Completed Your Financial Planning For 2019?

While small to medium enterprise (SME) owners may not have a great deal of control over South Africa’s broader economic issues, they do have control over how they plan and manage their finances, says EasyBiz Technologies Managing Director, Gary Epstein.

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“The failure of many SMEs to make it past the critical 3.5-year mark is more as a result of their inability to get the fundamentals right, rather than being able to deal with issues such as political uncertainty, crime or credit-rating downgrades.

“Several SMEs do not gain an adequate understanding of their markets or the competition they are up against. In addition, failure to manage their finances properly or to access funding and adapt to changes in the marketplace can also be serious hindrances to success.”

Epstein believes without proper financial planning and management, businesses place themselves on the back foot. “Business owners can only make informed decisions when they have a clear view of what is happening with their finances.”

That’s why having the proper financial management tools in place is so important for start-ups and SMEs. “At EasyBiz Technologies, we offer accounting solutions that are aimed at helping businesses manage their finances properly and placing them on a sound financial footing,” adds Epstein.

Tangible outcomes of a good system include increased productivity, reduced monthly expenses, improved accuracy, simplified tax compliance and better financial security. An effective system can also provide critical business insights and allow business owners to make informed and proactive decisions.

Epstein says efficient accounting solutions can help speed up business processes, affording business owners more time to focus on their core processes and growing their operations. “After all, time and money are the most precious resources when it comes to running a small business.

Related: 6 Steps Of Financial Planning

“Our solutions include analysis tools, report making applications and payroll assistance. In addition, income and expense trackers provide valuable information for tax and audit preparations,” he adds.

Epstein urges SMEs to plan for 2019 if they haven’t done so already. “It’s not too late to prepare for the year ahead and, with the financial year end for many businesses looming, now is the time to get a good system in place.”

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