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The PayFast COVID-19 merchant survival guide

Article provided by Payfast

We’ve officially made it through the first part of the national COVID-19 lockdown. For those lucky enough to have a busy at-home schedule the time has most likely flown by; but for possibly the majority of you it has been a painstakingly slow period with the only “excitement” stemming from the panic that races through your body when you wonder how your business will survive lockdown.

At PayFast, our merchants remain our number one priority, and at the end of the day if you aren’t financially successful then we aren’t either. We’ve developed the following PayFast COVID-19 Merchant Survival Guide to give you advice and tips on what you can do to safeguard your business during our new uncertain reality.  

Stay informed about what your rights are during lockdown

Although the rules were pretty unclear in the time leading up to the lockdown, the government has since stepped up by setting out clear guidelines and regulations for businesses and consumers to follow. These include export control regulations, transport regulations and banking sector exemptions. You can view all of the COVID-19 whitepapers here to find out how your business is being impacted and what rights you have to continue running your business under lockdown

The Western Cape Government has put together a comprehensive list of essential goods and services that is also worth familiarising yourself with. These documents include a list of essential services that can remain open during lockdown, such as supermarkets, medical facilities, and factories involved in the production of essential goods. There is also a list of essential goods that businesses are allowed to sell and consumers are allowed to purchase, such as groceries, animal food and toiletries.

Strategize like your business depends on it

While it may be immensely frustrating being trapped in your house during lockdown, there is still a lot that you can do now in preparation for when lockdown comes to a close. For example, if you have an online store that you are able to run remotely it’s important to encourage your customers to continue buying your products during lockdown, even if they can only be delivered post-lockdown. To motivate shoppers to spend you can create a special COVID-19 lockdown promo code that customers can apply at checkout to get 10% or 20% off their order. Also don’t forget to clearly state that all goods will only be delivered once couriers are able to deliver non-essential goods again to manage their expectations and ensure that you are able to fulfil all the orders you received during lockdown.

If your business is primarily offline and has been shut down for the duration of the lockdown period, such as restaurants, hairdressers and tattoo parlours, etc., there are a number of innovative ways that you can still keep the cash following. Create vouchers that can be bought now and redeemed when your business is back up and running. To sweeten the deal, you can run discounts in conjunction with these vouchers. Make sure to inform your customers of what you are doing by sending out an email to your database and promoting it on your social media channels. If you have funds available it could be worth running paid Facebook and Instagram ads to reach more potential customers in your area.

If you don’t have a website to sell and receive payment for these vouchers, then the PayFast payment request feature is the perfect solution. In a few simple steps you can generate a payment request that can be sent via email to your customers so that they can pay you with their preferred payment method.  

Digitise your business by branching out into online

All things considered, we are fortunate to be in lockdown now in 2020 instead of a decade or so ago when technology wasn’t as affordable and generally available. With a good internet connection and by making use of readily available tools such as Zoom, Crowdcast and Toasty you can get creative and diversify your business into online.

For those of you who have based your life’s work in the arts, such as professional photographers and musicians, under lockdown you have the opportunity to make some money by leading online classes. Same applies to yoga and gym instructors, as well as chefs who can lead virtual cooking classes. If this is something that interests you, all that you need to do is create a landing page on your website, a blog post or send out an email with a link for people to participate remotely. You can easily generate a PayFast ‘Pay Now’ button and integrate it into your chosen medium so that online participants can pay you a fixed sum or make a donation for your services rendered. 

If you were thinking about creating an online store for your craft or product idea then now is the perfect time to do so. E-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce are very user friendly and can be integrated with your PayFast account in a matter of minutes. If you are an artist you can easily set up an online store to sell your works of art (include digital pieces as well for instant transactions), or if you are a jewellery designer now is the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful online store to list your products.

Last but not least another great opportunity lies in signing up to freelance platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr and NoSweat where you can find available jobs that require your expertise. If you are a professional with a teachable skill set then you can also create an online video course for educational platforms like Udemy and get paid for teaching people all over the world.

Innovate and experiment

For innovative entrepreneurs the sky’s the limit when it comes to coming up with great online business opportunities during the COVID-19 lockdown. The team at PayFast are here to help and assist you with all of your online payment needs so that you can keep cash flowing in these unprecedented times. 

We will continue helping you anyway we can, and it’s only a matter of time until things return to normal in South Africa.

Payfast is a proud Partner of the NSBC