On Shelf
On Shelf

#OnShelf: Retail lockdown edition

by Louise Burgers. Clever brands have pivoted fast to ensure they have a future after lockdown; or to ensure they are able to trade as part of essential services; while consumers turn to making their own alcohol as #lockdownSA prohibition continues.

by Louise Burgers. Clever brands have pivoted fast to ensure they have a future after lockdown; or to ensure they are able to trade as part of essential services; while consumers turn to making their own alcohol as #lockdownSA prohibition continues.

Is this the future for malls?

Will we all be going through sci-fi like sanitising stations after lockdown to prevent the spread of infection from asymptomatic people in malls, workplaces and public spaces? JF Equipment seems to think so, and has launched Sani-Tunn, a “fixed or mobile unit that can be set up at the entrance to any public place that sanitises the entire individual plus whatever they’re carrying or pushing into that public place”. This is what the company says in its PR spin: “Public facilities and locations – be it hospitals, malls, stores, factories or corporate headquarters; will need to implement sanitisation processes post COVID-19 lockdown. The Sani-Tunn structure has been created using either robust aluminium, or superior graded stainless-steel to withstand the volume of activity and traffic it would need to manage. Each unit is specifically designed to cater for the environment in which it will be used. A unique spray system – operated by sensors, comes complete with high pressure pump and nozzles, moves an approved sanitisation solution through stainless steel piping installed inside the tunnel. The solution works with all fabrics and synthetics – like trolleys or pushchairs and is hypoallergenic for sensitive skin and facial usage.” There are critical questions it presents of course: is it safe to inhale for children and asthma sufferers; and, will it make my makeup run?

Legal docs online

Clever brands and retail services are able to repurpose their offering or launch new brands and services during a crisis and/or recession. Registered Communication is an electronic communications provider making it possible for businesses that previously relied on paper-based notices and hard-copy delivery of contractual documents, to remain legally compliant during the COVID-19 lockdown with its eContracting services. The company provides document certification via Registered Email and Registered SMS, and Click and Sign eContracting services that are legally recognised by South African courts. “Property rental agents or financial service providers such as banks or insurance companies that are restructuring loan agreements, policies or providing payment holidays will require digitally signed and certified legally-binding paperwork,” says Norman Colling, a partner at Registered Communication. The company enables businesses to send, track and prove delivery of electronic documents and contracts by email or SMS by enabling them to import contacts, create templates, customise messages and schedule sending. It also claims to increase  business efficiency, save money, and fast-track adaptation to quicker, more cost-effective paperless operations. “Our company is the third-party witness to all essential communications conducted through digital channels, so recipients cannot deny receiving a document or contract, dispute the contents thereof, or dispute their replies. There will always be proof of delivery, proof of replies received, and a registration certificate confirming the data associated with the exchange,” he adds.

Prohibition brings out the home brewers

It seems middle class South Africa is scrambling to brew their own alcohol after South Africa became the only country to ban retail and bulk alcohol sales during lockdown. Google reported that in the early days of #lockdownSA in April, one of the most searched phrases was, “How to make your own alcohol”; and “How to make your own alcohol at home”. Apparently the Free State, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo showed the highest levels of search interest for the term “homemade alcohol”. Pictures are being shared on social media of homebrews in large milk and water containers, complete with a condom on top (apparently as a substitute airlock). Pineapple beer seems to be a popular brew and recipes are circulating on suburban community Facebook groups; along with the usual popular lockdown staple for the middle class: banana bread and (in Cape Town primarily) vegan cheesecake.



Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of RetailingAfrica.com. She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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