As we approach the six month mark of COVID-19 lockdown, it’s crazy to realise just how much has happened and the impact it’s had on South African people, businesses and the economy. When lockdown was first announced, for some of us the worst thing was that our freedom of movement was taken away with curfews and having to work from home; for others it was far more dire. Some of the hardest hit industries were those of the consumer-facing variety, such hair salons, restaurants and bars who were forced to shut their doors and had difficulty in changing their business models to generate an income.
When the strict lockdown restrictions were announced, a number of great online initiatives popped up to try and help businesses survive. One such successful initiative was Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant, an online programme launched by South African Breweries (SAB) and Stella Artois that facilitated the sale of digital gift cards that customers could buy and then redeem at their favourite bars and restaurants post-lockdown. The money that was collected through the programme was instantly allocated to the bars and restaurants that signed up to the scheme so that they could keep their businesses afloat until they were allowed to reopen.
Rallying support for restaurants and bars
According to the Project Manager of Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant, Frederick Frankel, the decision to launch the initiative in South Africa was based on its success overseas.
“The idea launched in one of our global markets during lockdown and it took off. Once lockdown hit South Africa we knew that there would be an opportunity to assist our customers to survive during lockdown,” said Frederick.
“The idea was to use crowdfunding to support bars and restaurants whilst they were forced to be closed. We used the initiative to close the gap – money immediately for bars and restaurants to cover their overheads and a discounted voucher for consumers to use when “normal” returned,” continued Frederick.
To incentivise customers to purchase vouchers, Stella Artois added an extra 50% in value to each voucher for free on their first purchase. The voucher would be valid for three years and could be used at the establishment once it opened again.
Setting up the platform to split payments instantly
To ensure the success of the initiative, Stella Artois chose to partner with PayFast as their online payment solution. Bars and restaurants that signed up to the programme simply had to create a PayFast account and share their account details with the organisers. By integrating the PayFast Split Payments feature into the Rally for your Bar and Restaurant platform, every time a customer bought a voucher the payment was paid directly into Stella Artois’s PayFast account and then instantly transferred into the correct bar or restaurant’s PayFast account.
“We needed to bring Rally for Your Bar and Restaurant to market quickly so we required an online payment gateway that was quick to set up, had reasonable fees and credibility. PayFast ticked these boxes. PayFast was quick and easy to implement and well known by the public, so people were willing to buy in,” said Frederick.
Overall the initiative was successful, with over 500 outlets from across the country registering for the programme. “We had almost 2,000 vouchers purchased by all types of people across all provinces, and over R1.1 million was raised in total, ” concluded Frederick.
Thankfully as lockdown restrictions have been lifted, restaurants have once again been able to open their doors, first for delivery, then takeaways and most recently for sit downs. Under lockdown level 2, which the President announced in mid-August, bars were also finally allowed to open their doors as long as they abided by the regulations.
PayFast has helped a growing number of online businesses with a platform-based business model instantly split out commission, membership, referral, affiliate or listing fees when a payment is made. For more information on how PayFast’s Split Payments feature can help your online business, visit www.payfast.co.za.