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Hit the jackpot on Black Friday

How can South Africans ensure they don’t come out of this year’s Black Friday poor? LEE NAIK, CEO of TransUnion Africa, offers his 7 top tips

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Some people love it. Some people hate it. But whatever your feelings on Black Friday, the one thing you can’t do is ignore it.

South African retailers and consumers alike have embraced America’s favourite shopping day in all its excess. And in case you thought we might have a subdued Black Friday this year, search trends show otherwise.

Black Friday can be incredibly profitable for retailers and smart consumers alike, but we need to go into it with a reality check. It’s been an incredibly tough financial year for us as South Africans, and we can’t go in with the same mind-set of finding a bargain at any cost.

Half of Black Friday accounts are in arrears six months down the line

I’m a big believer that Black Friday is a marvellous opportunity for retail, but there’s a way to do it wrong and a way to do it right. And I’m not just talking about avoiding frenzied crowds bashing down doors. As the CEO of TransUnion Africa, I get to see a different picture than most people, and how their spending and lending habits on Black Friday might affect them down the line.

It’s been speculated by many commentators that Black Friday is one of the more dangerous times of the year for poor credit behaviour if consumers don’t carefully think about their purchases before swiping. To confirm this, we looked at new account openings made during the week of Black Friday 2018 (19-26 November) compared to the same week a month before. The results were eye-opening.

We found that people were more likely to take out loans and increase their spending limits during Black Friday period – to the tune of a 37% increase in new accounts and a 21% increase in total credit limits for new credit cards, clothing and retail revolving accounts.

The majority of this growth came from higher-risk loans – there was a 49% increase in retail installment accounts (normally used for furniture and electronics) and a 30% increase in retail revolving accounts (normally used for electronics, homeware and general appliances).

That’s not unexpected – home electronics and appliances are as much a part of Black Friday as presents and crackers are of Christmas. The problem comes after the madness has worn off. Our data found that six months on, just over half of new retail revolving accounts taken out during Black Friday 2018 were more than one month in arrears.

So, shoppers beware. That flat screen TV or PlayStation that’s on special for half the price might seem like a good bargain at the time, but it could lead to some very nasty debt down the road.

Top Tips for Beating the Black Friday Blues

Now for the good news. Black Friday doesn’t have to end in tears and arrears. By following these simple rules, you can avoid getting caught up in the hype and walking away with a maxed-out credit card and seven new retail store accounts you can’t afford. 

#1 – Start with a health check

Before you start dreaming of shopping carts full of electronics, take the time to know your own financial health. Do you know what you already owe? Have you pulled your credit report to see whether you have debts you are unaware of? The more you understand your current financial health, the more realistically you can set limits as to what you can afford.

#2 – Know Your Target

It pays to do some basic prep work in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Go in with a plan of what you’re looking to get out of it – is your washing machine in need of an upgrade, for example. Focus on a few things that you need, especially when it comes to big ticket items like furniture and home appliances. Be ruthless if you have to be – if you want five things but can only afford one, rather devote your time, energy on the one thing you need the most.

#3 – Don’t Roll the Dice When it Comes to Price

With your targets set, it’s time to do the groundwork of what you’re likely to pay. Search on Google, Bing or price comparison sites like pricecheck.co.za to get a feel for what the products you’re looking for normally cost and what retail sites you might find them on. Go to the online sites themselves and see what the current price is. Knowing the prices beforehand will allow you to sniff out the real bargains and avoid misleading “discounts” that aren’t what they say they are.

#4 – Put Your Chips Aside

Waking up on Black Friday can feel like stepping into a casino – there’s just way too much to see, do and spend, and you’ve got the temptation to play until you hit the jackpot and find a really great bargain. That’s why it’s a good idea to follow the old gambler’s credo of only putting down what you’re willing to lose. Set a maximum spend limit based on your research of what your must-have items cost and what you can afford, and stick closely to it on the day.

#5 – Set Your Sights on the Right Sites

Just like there’s nothing more fun than hitting the jackpot, there’s also nothing more annoying than missing out on it because you’re too slow. Let your Black Friday wish list guide you. Bookmark the relevant retail sites and even product listings if you’re looking for a very specific item, in order to instantly access them on Black Friday. Sign up to newsletters and download the relevant apps to be served push notifications and check the best deal round-ups that many sites release. Assuming they’re not overrun with people, visit a few physical stores in your area that sell the items on your wish list and head straight to what you’re looking for.

#6 – Think Before You Pay

Before you finalize your shopping cart or head to the till, take one final look at what you’re about to buy. If you’ve done the research, you should have a good feel for what counts as a well-priced item and what you can get for nearly the same price or don’t really need. Pay cash where possible instead of signing up for a new account or charging to your credit card. When in doubt, drop whatever doesn’t offer good value or isn’t one of your must-haves.

#7 – Don’t Sweat it if You Don’t Get it

Remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just the start of the festive retail season. Don’t get caught up in the false urgency of timers and limited availability that you buy something you don’t need or that could put you in financial difficulty. Put your wish list aside until it’s time for summer, Christmas, New Year’s and end-of-season sales, and then follow these same strategies.

The countdown has begun. Start your prep-work, set your limits and remember – it’s better to walk away with less than you wanted than it is with unnecessary debt. Shop smart, spend wisely, and you could be enjoying your most successful Black Friday yet.

Want to make sure you’re on the mark this Black Friday? Phone 0861 482 482 or head to www.transunion.co.za for your free annual credit report.

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Alexa can now read all messages

For the first time, an Alexa skill is available that makes it possible to listen to any kind of message while driving

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For the first time, Alexa users can now hear all their messages and email read aloud.

Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name. The world’s most popular virtual assistant is getting smarter every day and now, with Amazon Echo Auto, it’s in cars too. 

“In today’s highly connected world, messaging in the form of emails, texts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and work channels like Slack, are integral to our daily routine,” says Barrie Arnold, chief revenue officer at ping. “However, distracted driving is responsible for more than 25% of car crashes and thousands of preventable fatalities every year.” 

ping, a specialist in voice technology founded by Arnold and South African Garin Toren, has developed a new Alexa skill as a companion to its patented smartphone app, that enables any message type to be read aloud. Designed for safety, productivity and convenience, “pingloud” is the first skill of its kind for keeping users connected when they need a hand or an extra pair of eyes.

“The ping Alexa skill is specifically designed to help drivers stay off their phones while giving them exactly what they want – access to their messages.” says Toren, ping CEO. 

Opening up Alexa to developers has resulted in an explosion of new skills available either for free or for a fee that unlocks premium services or features. These tools magnify the usefulness of Alexa devices beyond common tasks like asking for the weather, playing music or requesting help on a homework assignment. According to App Annie, the most downloaded apps in 2019 were Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s main app and WhatsApp, highlighting the importance of messaging. 

“The ping Android app is available worldwide from the Google Pay Store, reading all messages out loud in 30 languages,” says Toren. “The iOS version is in global beta testing with the US launch coming very soon.” 

Once you’ve signed up for ping, it takes a few seconds to link with Alexa, enabling all messages and emails to be read aloud by a smart speaker or Echo Auto device. Simply say, “Hey Alexa, open pingloud.” ping links an account to a voice profile so unauthorised users with access to the same Alexa cannot ask for the authorised user’s messages.

All major message types are supported, including Texts/SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, Slack, Telegram, Twitter DM’s, Instagram, and all email types. Promotional and social emails are not read by default.

*For more information, visit www.pingloud.com

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Coronavirus to hit 5G

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Global 5G smartphone shipments are expected to reach 199 million units in 2020, after disruption caused by the coronavirus scare put a cap on sales forecasts, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global 5G smartphone shipments will grow more than tenfold from 19 million units in 2019 to 199 million in 2020. The 5G segment will be the fastest-growing part of the worldwide smartphone industry this year. Consumers want faster 5G smartphones to surf richer content, such as video or games. We forecast 5G penetration to rise from 1 percent of all smartphones shipped globally in 2019 to 15 percent of total in 2020.”

Ville-Petteri Ukonaho, Associate Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “China, United States, South Korea, Japan and Germany are by far the largest 5G smartphone markets this year. The big-five countries together will make up 9 in 10 of all 5G smartphones sold worldwide in 2020. However, other important regions, like India and Indonesia, are lagging way behind and will not be offering mass-market 5G for at least another year or two.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The global 5G smartphone industry is growing quickly, but the ongoing coronavirus scare and subsequent economic slowdown will put a cap on overall 5G demand this year. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently restricting smartphone production in Asia, disrupting supply chains, and deterring consumers from visiting retail stores to buy new 5G devices in some parts of China. The first half of 2020 will be much weaker than expected for the 5G industry, but we expect a strong bounce-back in the second half of the year if the coronavirus spread is brought under control.”

Exhibit 1: Global 5G Smartphone Shipments Forecast in 2020 1

Global Smartphone Shipments (Millions of Units)20192020
5G19199
Rest of Market13941165
Total14131364
 
Global Smartphone Shipments (% of Total)20192020
5G1%15%
Rest of Market99%85%
Total100%100%

Source: Strategy Analytics

The full report, Global Handset Sales for 88 Countries & 19 Technologies, is published by the Strategy Analytics Emerging Device Technologies (EDT) service, details of which can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/wep83gc.

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