Since lockdown began on 27th March, South Africans have increasingly been turning to digital channels for everything from entertainment to socialising.

But more than that, digital channels that allow South Africans to shop online and have essential goods delivered to their homes have been the silent hero of the lockdown.

While it might be anecdotal, upon receiving a delivery of essential goods from Takealot this week it was shocking to see just how packed the delivery vehicle was.

While Takealot is a big corporation, it does source products from smaller suppliers. Situations like this are incredibly helpful for smaller businesses which may not be able to create their own digital channels.

But what if a business wants to set up its own digital channel?

Thankfully, there are solutions which allow small businesses to extend their business offering into cyberspace.

Solutions such as PayFast allow a business to accept payments for online purchases with no monthly fees, seven payment methods and ample support seven days a week.

Standard Bank also offers a similar solution in this regard it calls SimplyBlu, but it is a lot more than just a payment facilitator.

The solution allows business owners to set up their own unique online store, accept credit card payments securely and much more.

Head of business banking at Standard Bank Group, Simone Cooper, says that SimplyBlu can also help businesses garner payment from debtors more easily.

“Chasing outstanding accounts, managing reconciliations and dealing with the reversal of payments are some of the challenges facing businesses and take time to resolve. This can be done electronically to avoid a negative impact on cash flow so that there is enough money in the bank to pay staff at this critical time,” explains Cooper.

The division head goes on to say that having an online presence could prove useful post-lockdown. This is because the habits of shoppers may be permanently shifted given the fact many of them are looking for ways to avoid going outside, even to get essential goods.

To that end, data from Statista reveals that the annual growth rate of the ecommerce market in South Africa sits at an estimated 6.7 percent with an estimated market volume of $4.93 million by 2024.

While South Africa is far behind the world in terms of ecommerce value (as of January 2020) we suspect that given the lockdown, those numbers could shift dramatically.

The fact of the matter is that being online and allowing for online purchases opens up your business to more customers.

It’s well worth exploring how your business can expand its operations online whether it be through Standard Bank or another solution that suits your needs better.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]