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#OnShelf: Online solutions for business

by Louise Burgers. Crises present opportunities for innovation: a virtual conferencing product is launched; along with new online payment solutions for small business.

by Louise Burgers. Crises present opportunities for innovation: a South African virtual conferencing product is launched; along with new online payment solutions for small business; and we ask whether this global virus crisis will be remembered locally as The Pineapple Pandemic?

Virtual conferencing platform

Strategic branding agency Trend Forward has launched a virtual conferencing solution for the meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions (MICE) industry. “The MICE industry is currently experiencing an unimaginable disruption due to COVID-19. Exhibitions, conferences and events have been cancelled worldwide with much uncertainty about when these events will be allowed to continue. When they do continue, what will be the reaction by visitors? Will they continue as before or will they shy away from any gathering over 100 people?” asked Dave Nemeth, MD of Trend Forward and Retailing Africa’s resident retail analyst. Many people are currently hosting virtual events, exhibitions and conferences online, but the overall experience is not engaging; and in many cases, they simply take place on the Zoom platform or Microsoft Teams. “We have created a great experience where visitors or invited delegates can really engage with content as well as the speakers on a user-centric platform. The strength of the innovation is the speed at which we can have this up and running for your brand and solutions are completely customisable. The platform is also designed for great online training experiences due to restrictive travel that may continue for some time to come,” said Nemeth.

Online payment solutions for SMMEs

Yoco, the financial platform for small business, has launched a suite of online payment solutions for merchants to sustain their cash flow during and beyond lockdown; while at the same time, launching a small business directory to enable small business owners to make their businesses discoverable by consumers across South Africa on www.supportsmall.co.za. “The national lockdown has had a severe impact on our merchants. Through our platform and the results of a recent merchant survey, we have seen up to a 90% decrease in in-person transactions since the lockdown began. We knew that the best way to support our merchants was to develop products that would enable them to do business online and keep money coming in through this period,” said Katlego Maphai, co-founder and CEO. Yoco has created three new payment solutions: Payment Page, Gift Vouchers, and Payment Request to assist its customer base of 80 000 small businesses. The Yoco Online Payment suite enables merchants to securely accept online payments, as well as easily track and reconcile all invoices and payments whether in-person or online.

The Pineapple Pandemic

From toilet paper to pineapples, this pandemic is teaching us some weird things about consumers and their habits and shopping under pressure. What will future generations say about the panic buying and fist fights in retailers all over the world ahead of lockdown? They will definitely laugh at South Africans ability to circumvent prohibition under lockdown restrictions by upskilling themselves to brew pineapple beer. According to figures released this week by the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market, daily sales of pineapples went from 10 000 daily to 90 000 daily in a week! I’m sure there is enough food for thought for psychological studies for decades to come!


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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