How to beat load shedding at its own game
While load shedding has been suspended for the time being, it’s safe to say that it won’t be long before we experience another bout of rolling black outs. If you read last week’s blog about load shedding (for a quick recap, have a look here), we spoke about the three ways to evaluate the impact of load shedding on your bottom line. Regardless of whether the effects of having no access to electricity are minimal or substantial, at the end of the day, your business will be affected one way or another.
It’s one thing to know that load shedding is adversely affecting your business; compiling a contingency plan can be another matter entirely. We will explore some methods to use that will ensure that your business is well prepared for load shedding.
If the biggest impact of load shedding is a decline in foot traffic, put yourself in your customers’ shoes.
Many retail outlets experience a noticeable drop in foot traffic as soon as the lights go out. This is due to a variety of factors – customers may assume that they won’t be able to pay by card; or that you’re closed for business because the lights are out. Think about this problem through the eyes of your customers – what are the main factors that keep them away during a power outage? Whatever the cause of a decline in customers, you’ll need to be inventive when it comes to letting them know that you are still open for business– with or without power.
Have a sign prominently displayed that assures customers that you’re able to trade during a power cut.
The well-known quotation, “Assumption is the mother of all mistakes”, applies – you may be missing out on revenue simply because your customers assume that you’re not able to trade. Make sure that your customers are aware of the fact that they’ll be able to purchase goods from you – even when the rest of your competitors are closed.
The businesses who survive – and even, thrive – during load shedding, are the ones who’re flexible.
Now’s the time to get out of your comfort zone, and think of inventive ways to lure customers and preserve your cash flow. If you’re in a mall that shuts down when there’s no power, consider setting up a sidewalk stand, or book a space at a local market.
If you’re losing money due to damaged stock, consider cutting down on perishables and selling ‘load shedding proof’ products instead.
This may be easier said than done, but if you’re in a position where you’re able to shift the focus of your core business, stocking non-perishable items will ensure that you’re still able to trade – even if it’s to a new target market. Re-positioning yourself may very well be the act that saves your business from going into the red.
For example, if you’re an artisan ice cream store, you may want to sell candy floss and popcorn during the next instalment of load shedding. It’s wise to begin advertising your new offerings while you’re still connected to the grid – running a social media campaign or having in-store promotional poster will ensure that your customers know about your new products.
With the majority of smartphone owners now shopping via their mobiles, invest in an online presence.
Because load shedding affects different areas at different times, many of your customers still have access to the internet. An ecommerce alternative is a great way to ensure that you’re not losing money due to a decline in foot traffic and the resulting decline in sales.
A payment solution that’s not electricity dependant is undoubtedly the most important part of a load shedding contingency plan.
All of the above contingencies are only scalable if you’re equipped with a point of sale system that can work during power outages. A mobile POS that connects to a smartphone or tablet is the one tool that separates businesses who survive load shedding and those who don’t.
Image courtesy of: Mpumalanga News