#OnShelf: Health and safety dominates
by Louise Burgers. This week it’s all about health and safety regulations and products that enable business and consumers to beat the virus.Wednesday, 13 May 2020
by Louise Burgers. As an easing of lockdown restrictions means more businesses can reopen, this week it’s all about health and safety regulations and products that enable business and consumers to comply and beat the virus.
The only alcohol allowed
During lockdown in South Africa there have been jokes and memes about people resorting to drinking their hand sanitiser when their wine and beer runs out, after alcohol sales were banned under lockdown. At least we hope it was a joke – one can’t be too sure when the world’s leading covidiot in the big White House talks about injecting disinfectant to “cure” coronavirus. The alcohol content in hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes is up for debate, with retailers demanding that the alcohol content be increased in wipes used to wipe down trolleys or for customer’s hands at store entrances. Disinfectant and sanitiser manufacturers around the country have been battling to meet increased demand, both as a result of a sporadic supply of alcohol as well as a shortage of other raw materials. “Despite ramping up production of all our products by more than 300% in the last few months we are still not managing to meet demand,” said Annette Devenish, marketing director at Infection Protection Products, the manufacturers of Sani-touch products, including Saniwipes.
Devenish says it is impossible to increase the alcohol content of wipes to 70% or 80%, as they would simply dry out too fast, rendering them ineffective. The company points out that the WHO’s recommended formulations for a hand rub and surface disinfectant to counter the coronavirus – or COVID-19 – is either 80% ethanol or 70% isopropanol. Lower amounts of ethanol or other types of alcohol are less effective at disrupting the virus. However, most antibacterial products contain alcohol and some soap which together are effective in destroying the coronavirus. “Trolley wipes are manufactured with a tried and tested detergent disinfectant solution with a high and potent soap content which renders the coronavirus inactive; which means they don’t require a higher alcohol content,” says Devenish. “In fact, in their current form, and if they are used correctly, they contain more than sufficient disinfectant to remove any bacteria or viruses. This is due to the fact that the wipes contain sufficient soap to coat the virus, with the inclusion of alcohol as an added deterrent.”
Touch and go
No-touch, contactless, remote payment solutions are needed for customers to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Many businesses are being forced to transform the ways they operate to online; therefore, new payment methods are needed for the non face-to-face environment. For instance, restaurants and fast food outlets may now only sell takeaways, which means they need to offer customers new ways of paying remotely or once delivery arrives at the customer’s door. “We are seeing a spike in demand for our remote, card-based payment solutions. Old-school EFT is still possible of course, but there are much quicker and more efficient payment mechanisms that you can track in real time,” says Leonard Shenker, joint CEO of walletdoc, a South African fintech startup which offers a number of payment solutions for merchants. “Both Pick n Pay and Checkers have recently announced new contactless payment for customers but all businesses can have access to these without having to incur the cost to develop them.” This is what walletdoc recommends:
- Payment links: A payment link is a way to request payment from customers who are paying for goods or services outside of a traditional store. It’s a ‘pay now’ button which is easily sent to customers via SMS, WhatsApp or email, enabling customers to settle via card immediately. The payment link can even be placed onto invoices, statements or quotes. There is no contact between customer and driver required for payment.
- Mobile credit card machines: Because of the increased demand for delivery services, drivers can be equipped with mobile credit card machines so they can take card payments at the time of delivery to customers. With tap-to-pay enabled cards, customers can minimise contact with the point of sale (POS) machine; protecting their health and safety.
- QR codes: Drivers and websites can be equipped with QR codes. The merchant would get a QR code which can appear on his website or could hang around a driver’s neck on a lanyard. This would enable a driver to take card payments at the time of delivery to customers. Customers can make payment by simply scanning the QR code with their phone. With no physical contact between the driver and the customer and no POS machine required, this is another safe payment channel.
Letting the cat out of the bag
The SPCA in Cape Town has come up with a novelty mask design that is sure to thrill kids and animal lovers alike – as well as raise money for the animal shelter during these challenging times. The masks are available in adult and kiddies sizes with the choice of cat or dog print. The SPCA has called on the public to support for the furry friends they look after by purchasing the animal face masks, which are available for sale in Cape Town at the Grassy Park and Plumstead Vet Shops at R50 each as part of the fundraising effort. Or orders can be placed via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I predict with certainty that masks, apart from being an essential tool in combating the spread of COVID-19, are also going to become somewhat of a fashion item too.
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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