A new breed of agile fintech companies has emerged to respond to the need of South African retailers for quick access to financing.
These finance providers offer retailers access to “opportunity capital” so that they can move rapidly in response to emerging business trends.
That’s according to Steven Heilbron, CEO of Capital Connect, a fintech that offers fast and flexible business funding. He says that, in an environment of constrained consumer spending, disrupted supply chains and rising inflation, small-to-medium-sized retailers need to be nimble and require access to financing in order to respond to new opportunities.
They can no longer afford to wait weeks for a business loan to be approved, but need the funds in their bank account as soon as possible to take advantage of opportunities like a time-sensitive bulk buy.
Says Heilbron: “Retailers know they need to be agile and innovative to thrive, given rising competition, economic volatility and the ever-changing needs and tastes of the consumer. Innovative fintechs can support them because they leverage digital technology to offer easy, fast and hassle-free loans to qualifying retailers.”
Heilbron gives six examples of how retailers can put fintech finance to work to outcompete and grow in a difficult climate:
- Industrial air fryers: By some estimates consumers have already bought more than 24,000 air fryers in the Black Friday 2022 promotional period. With cooking oil and energy prices rising, hospitality and fast food businesses are emulating their example. Industrial air fryers are more oil efficient than deep fryers. They also enable retailers to save on electricity costs and offer their customers a healthier food alternative.
- Container shops: Shipping containers are already popular for spaza and tuck shops. But they are a convenient way for any retail business to get up-and-running with a seasonal or pop-up store for events or holiday trade.
- Home meal replacement: Many retailers are turning home meal replacement into a booming business. These offerings save consumers time with fully or partially prepared meals that are varied, nutritious and affordable. There is growing demand for vegan options.
- Perishable fridge doors: Experts expect electricity prices to double in South Africa over the next five years. Adding doors on open perishable fridges is a great way to save up to 40% on electricity costs.
- Fast and premium deliveries: According to Wunderman research, 25% of South African consumers want their delivery to arrive in less than two hours. A scooter or delivery vehicle can enable a retailer to meet this expectation. We’re also seeing more competition in premium sectors like wine deliveries. Retailers without an online ordering system or delivery service are simply losing out.
- Vending machines: Adding a vending machine for hot beverages or medical supplies (basic pharmacy items) to a fuel station forecourt is a hassle-free way to add a new revenue stream.
“From improving in-store shopping experiences to creating revenue streams such as ecommerce, there is no shortage of great ways to grow a retail business,” says Heilbron. “But retailers require affordable and convenient finance to capitalise on these opportunities. With Capital Connect, retailers can apply for a loan of up to R5-million from our app and the funds will be in their bank account within 24 hours or less.”