Head Office, Johannesburg, South Africa

How merchant services are helping SMEs in South Africa succeed

merchant servicesSMEs are the lifeblood of any economy – both developing and developed – they’re an important factor in creating jobs and a demand for products and services. However, recent findings by the SME Growth Index paint a worrying picture of the state of SME growth in SA. Turnover and employment growth have been stagnant, with the sector only growing by 13% last year. This demonstrates the challenges SMEs in South Africa are facing. This is why merchant services will become even more important for starting and running an SME to become simpler and more accessible.

The odds against running a successful small business are all stacked the wrong way

The internet and globalisation have created a more open and connected world, creating opportunities for innovators and entrepreneurs. But it’s a double-edged sword – competition is fierce. Not only are SMEs competing with the business down the road, they’re competing with companies in neighbouring provinces, countries and continents, especially if they operate in the digital arena. The rising price of goods also puts another strain on small businesses, in addition to the struggle to find startup financing and decent merchant services. As we touched upon in our last blog, the local economy – as well as lack of mentorship – is another factor that might dissuade SMEs from launching, and put pressure on established businesses. The fact that 8 out of 10 small businesses fail in the first two years shows exactly how tough it is to go at it alone.

SMEs can thrive from an idea literally under your nose

Despite all the odds against SMEs succeeding, there are many examples of small businesses going strong – from that small corner-side café that overflows during lunch time to that hairdresser you can’t do without. Then there’s Bona Fide Beards. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, beards and moustaches – and combinations thereof – are kind of a thing at the moment. But what wasn’t a thing, until Johannesburg entrepreneur Monique Flemming stepped in, was a decent range of male grooming products to keep those beards in shape.  What started out as her making a batch of beard taming conditioner for her husband’s wily mane, has turned into a thriving brand. What is now an online store will become a retail outlet early next year – complete with a production space, office and even an on-site barber.

Business at the South African Sky Diving School is booming thanks to mobile payments.

Merchant services are another way for SMEs outside lifestyle brands to find success. For two decades, Mike Teague has been running tandem skydives and accelerated freefall courses at the South African Sky Diving school from Wonderboom airport in Pretoria. During that time, all bookings had to be made prior to the jump date, with a 20% deposit paid upon booking. The account would be settled on the day of the jump, by cash or EFT. Mike suffered several scams where the customer never transferred the funds electronically – until he invested in a mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) device.

Now things are very different for his business. The fact he can offer customers a convenient way to pay by card immediately has meant that bookings have increased and the school is almost always fully-booked. He can now accept walk-ins without having to ask for a deposit, he avoids the stress and damage of non-payments and has even expanded his business by opening an informal bar at the school – something very much enjoyed by his patrons.

If you’re wondering how your business too can soar with the help of merchant services and mobile payments apps, download the ZipZap brochure.