While we may be in the throes of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s important to keep a level head and do everything you can to ensure the wellbeing of yourself, your loved ones, colleagues and your business. Following President Ramaphosa’s COVID-19 state of the nation address on 14th March, we at PayFast, and DPO Group as a whole, took quick action to ensure the wellbeing of our employees by allowing those who can to work remotely with flexible working hours. We are happy to note that despite our working adjustments, it has remained “business as usual” from the perspective of our merchants and buyers.
The silver lining of the situation that we currently find ourselves in is that we’ve had three months to prepare by observing how China and other severely affected countries like South Korea and Italy have been managing the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, once the Chinese government realised the severity of the outbreak, they enforced strict isolation measures that resulted in cities almost coming to a complete shut down in an attempt to contain the virus. While China still isn’t in the clear just yet, they have gotten the spread of COVID-19 under control.
The South African government is thankfully on the ball and is doing its best to ensure effective measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, as a business owner, you may have concerns about the knock-on effects that the pandemic could have on your business.
Taking care of businesses (every day and every way)
We’ve put the following list together to help you also keep “business as usual”:
Take care of yourself and your employees
Yours and your employees health should remain your top priority. If possible, follow our lead and allow your employees to work from home so that they can isolate themselves. As long as they have access to a computer and an internet connection then work can carry on as normal, especially with the assistance of online platforms such as Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Zoom that facilitate remote collaboration.
If it’s essential for certain staff to continue working from your office, then heighten hygiene protocols by disinfecting surfaces and making hand sanitizer easily available. Encourage personal hygiene by putting up signs reminding people to avoid physical contact and to sneeze and cough into tissues or into the crook of their arm.
Move your business into online
Technology has a solution for almost everything, including living in the shadow of COVID-19. With individuals being housebound, the popularity of food delivery and shopping platforms have really proven their worth. Chinese citizens under lock down were quick to turn to technology to help with day-to-day tasks, such as ordering food and groceries online with remote pick up. Even now as COVID-19 is spreading across the USA, Amazon has announced that they are struggling to keep up with the demand of online shoppers who are choosing to shop online from the safety of their homes.
Locally, South African shoppers are also turning to online shopping as a safety precaution. Brick and mortar shopping giants like Pick n Pay and Woolworths, as well as online-based services such as Uber Eats and Mr D Food, have sent out communication to reassure their customers about the measures they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adapting food packaging and reducing contact with people during deliveries.
If your business already has an online presence, then you can also adapt and be innovative by catering to your customers who are in self-isolation by offering remote drop offs. If you haven’t done so already, you should also ease your customers’ peace of mind by being vocal about what you as a business are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among your employees and customers.
If you have just been thinking about creating an online presence, then now is the time to do so. With literally hundreds of user-friendly ecommerce platforms out there such as Shopify and WooCommerce, it’s simple to set up your own online store. PayFast integrates with all the leading shopping cart platforms, so together we can help you and your customers avoid physical contact with each other by facilitating online transactions.
Support small local businesses
Unfortunately, small local businesses will be hardest hit amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s therefore important for EVERYONE to support their local shops. If you are feeling well and are cautious with your hygiene, then shop at your local store. Even when shopping online, make an effort to support local online businesses. Every bit counts, and by banding together we can help our local economy survive this uncertain time.