Reading Time: 3 minutes
For several years ‘customer experience’ has been the driving force behind many business strategies that bring about product development, marketing, and all-around business culture. However, recently, there has been a shift in focus to what many are calling ‘the age of employee experience’.
Here’s what you’ll find out in this article:
- What is Employee Experience
- The importance of Employee Experience
- Why there has been a shift from culture to experience
What is Employee Experience
The rise of what we’ve come to know as ‘employee experience’ has set new demands for most businesses. An easy way to understand this fairly new concept is by saying, if customer experience relates to how we measure all communication a company has with its customers, then employee experience relates to everything the workers of a company experience – every interaction from the very first interview up until the moment they leave the company.
Related: All you need to know about a revolving loan
Employee experience goes beyond providing a great place to work. It forces companies to offer their employees a new level of support in their career and personal wellbeing, flexibility, and a plethora of opportunities.
Some key features of a good employee experience include, but are definitely not limited to;
- Protecting and encouraging a healthy work-life balance
- Encouraging a collaborative work environment
- Using technical advances to minimize ‘meaningless’ tasks
- Offering flexibility and support for individual schedules
- A designed professional development plan to suit each employee’s growth
- Encouraging employee autonomy and self-direction
- Promoting an environment of purpose and meaning beyond making money
Related: What is a business credit facility?
The importance of Employee Experience
So the question on everyone’s mind is, why is it so important? According to a Forbes article, in 2019, employee experience became a ‘preeminent corporate priority’. The reason for this is partly due to the evolution of the employee-employer relationship, as well as the fact that job-hopping is more frequent than ever. All in all, there is an imminent need for companies to raise the bar when it comes to retaining employees and providing a thriving work environment for their people.
Why there has been a shift from culture to experience
There’s no doubt that the rising importance of “customer experience”, with its focus on empowering individuality, influenced it. Where most companies previously focused on employee engagement and company culture, recently it’s more about overall employee experience.
While company culture is still important, it’s significance is limited. Your office can be as trendy as ever, filled with table tennis areas, Friday drinks, and casually dressed staff working flexible hours – but that will only get so far. These types of perks are fast becoming the norm and probably do promote collaboration and a shared vision, but if employees are not motivated and engaged with their work, these perks are futile. Employee experience relates to the daily norms of the workplace, the bonds between team members and managers, the sense of support between everyone in the company. These are the things of real value.
Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA
So why should SMEs care about investing in their company’s employee experience?
Those who make a sustained investment into employees are able to retain top talent within their industries, dominate the competition, and in turn, promote higher turnover because people are motivated to do their best at every turn. According to HBR, on average, companies that invested in the experience of their employees returned over four times the average profit – despite being around 25% smaller, implying greater levels of both efficiency and creativity.
The statistics certainly back up the hype: having a positive experience is not only crucial to attracting and keeping the best workforce, but staying relevant as a business, too.
Reading Time: 2 minutes
On Thursday, 17 September 2020, Governor Lesetja Kganyago read the latest Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) statement. We are happy to see that the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) held it’s key lending, or repo, rate at 3,5%. A low repo rate is good news for both consumer spending levels and for businesses looking to borrow money to invest in growth opportunities.
However, on a more cautionary note the SARB also revised its 2020 GDP forecast downwards, indicating a contraction of 8.2% for the year compared to its early prediction of a 7.3% decrease. This revised forecast is now more in line with other external organisations such the OECD. According to the Dailymaverick.co.za, “The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecasts an 11.5% contraction for the South African economy in 2020, the biggest among 19 countries surveyed in Africa. A GDP contraction indicates a potential decline in industrial production and retail sales, and could lead a drop in real personal income.
Related: Tips for the 2020/2021 tax season
The SARB also indicated that inflation is set to remain within it’s target range off 3% to 6%. The Monetary Policy Committee statement said, “The central bank’s headline consumer price inflation forecast averages 3.3% in 2020 and is lower than previously forecast at 4% in 2021 and at 4.4% in 2022.”
During the MPC meeting, it was also brought to light that the inflation rate “is expected to be well contained over the medium-term,” due to the slow recovery and economic contraction.
This suggests that the SARB has the ability to reduce rates even further but the statement was clear in the fact that the bank’s “Quarterly Projection Model (QPM) indicates no further repo rate cuts in the near term and two rate increases in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.”
Related: What We Learned At The Business Show South Africa
With the country moving to Level 1 in a few days, the hope is that the further increase in commercial activity will help grow the overall economy and put money back in consumers pockets.
With the record low repo rate set to remain at this level for the foreseeable future, and inflation also expected to remain steady, now is a good time for business owners to look at accessing additional capital to invest in the future of their business.
Lulalend’s funding options are flexible and personalized for your business needs. Find out more about our bridging finances and credit facility offers today.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Guest blog by PayFast
There’s never been a more appropriate time to get your business online. The COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s response of enforcing different levels of lockdown regulations have affected the economy hard. As a business owner, you know this first hand. While restrictions are slowly being lifted to get our economy up and running again, one thing is clear: social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future. If your business is brick and mortar then it’s essential that you fast track your strategy of getting your business online, because even if you are allowed to open your doors again you will have far less foot traffic than what you were used to pre-COVID-19, and you will have to limit the number of customers in your store at any given time.
Whether you’ve been thinking about going online but haven’t gotten round to it yet, or if it’s a brand new concept to you, we want to help. We’ve put together the following three-point plan to help you successfully move your business online as quickly as possible.
1. Do your Research
Before moving your business online it’s important to do extensive research to ensure you aren’t caught off guard and have a good understanding of the costs involved in running and maintaining an online store. This includes doing a bit of research into the price of your products, shipping options, and what eCommerce platform is best suited for your business.
Doing your research can be further broken down into the following main points:
Know your product(s)
This means knowing absolutely EVERYTHING about it, from who is manufacturing or supplying it, whether there will be import duties and if you can handle the demand for it. When you have these facts locked down you’ll be able to more effectively establish important things like branding, pricing, shipping, and marketing.
It’s also important to have a good understanding of who your intended customer base is so that you can cater to their online shopping needs and adequately market to them.
Know your competitors
The best way to learn about what works and doesn’t is by looking at what your competitors (both local and international) are doing on their online store. Pay special attention to their website layout, how user-friendly it is to navigate, the image quality of their products, the different product categories, and subcategories, and of course pricing.
Work out pricing and shipping
This is one of the most important things that will determine the success of your online business. You must take into account the manufacturing or purchasing and import costs so that you sell your products for a fair price while making a profit. As mentioned in the previous point, seeing how much your competitors are selling their products is a good indication of what customers are willing to pay.
For shipping, it’s important to choose a trusted shipping company so that the products get delivered in a timely manner. When it comes to covering shipping costs there are a number of options you can look into, such as including the shipping costs in the product’s pricing to offer free shipping, having a fixed shipping cost for all products, adjusting it for the number of items purchased or offering free shipping when the total reaches a certain amount, such as R500 or more.
2. Build your eCommerce store
For many online business owners, this is the most fun and exciting part – customising your online store and seeing it come to life. The main points you need to consider are as follows:
Choosing your shopping cart platform
There are tons of online shopping cart platforms to choose from that offer different tools and functionalities. The different platforms offer a variety of packages, ranging from monthly to yearly subscriptions, some also offer free plans or at least free trials. What’s important is to find the platform that works best for you. Some of the most popular options are Shopify, WooCommerce (a free WordPress plugin), Prestashop, Magento, and Ecwid. It’s worth taking a look at the 80+ cart list on PayFast’s website for more ideas.
If you have developing skills or want to hire a developer to create a custom online store, then that’s a valid option as well.
Once you’ve chosen your platform and designed it to represent your brand, then it’s time to add your products. We can’t stress the importance of having high-quality photos of your products to give shoppers a realistic idea of what they are buying. You should also add a detailed description of what each product is, colour and size options (if applicable), and how it can benefit the shopper. The more information you provide will help with your search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking and also encourage shoppers to buy the product.
Related: Small Business Marketing Strategies: Google vs Facebook
Integrating a payment gateway
Before your online store opens for the business you need to integrate a secure payment gateway to receive online payments. It’s important to select a payment solution that facilitates a variety of payment methods, such as Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards, Instant EFT, Masterpass, Mobicred, Zapper, etc. to give shoppers the option of paying with their preferred payment method.
One of the leading payment gateways in South Africa is PayFast; it’s trusted by over 70,000 businesses to facilitate their online payments. It’s free to sign up and there are no monthly fees, PayFast only charges a small percentage of every successful payment. PayFast is extremely easy to set up as it integrates with over 80 online platforms as well as a custom integration.
3.Market your store online
Once everything is up and running it’s time to get your name out there to attract business. This involves making sure that every web page is SEO optimised with keywords to attract organic traffic, and that you put an effective and ongoing digital marketing strategy in place. You should monitor page views and conversions by using tools like Google Analytics, which will give you insights into what you can do to tweak copy, images, or navigation to improve the shopper’s experience and to attract new visitors to your eCommerce store.
You can also use paid services to attract traffic to your website such as Google Ads and paid ads on Facebook and Instagram. Just make sure you do research into who your customer base is so you use the right marketing platform to target the right demographics.
If you haven’t done so already, register your online business on the relevant social media platforms so that you can promote your products and engage with your community. It’s also extremely beneficial to put together a database of all of your loyal customers (and potential new ones who are willing to sign up to your mailing list) so that you can send out marketing emails to them promoting new products or specials.
Related: Marketing tips for your business
While moving your business online may be challenging, with a lot of testing and experimentation it will be immensely rewarding. It’s never been more important to get your business online, so we wish you all the best in your online business ventures.
PayFast is a leading online payment processing solution for individuals, non-profit organisations (NPOs), and businesses of all sizes in South Africa. PayFast was founded in 2007 in Cape Town by Jonathan Smit with the vision of helping online merchants grow their businesses. Over a decade later, over 70,000 merchants from a variety of South African businesses, big and small, have registered with PayFast to process and manage online payments made by their customers. PayFast supports 7 popular payment methods (including credit and debit card, Instant EFT, Mobicred, Masterpass, and SCode) and integrates with 80+ platforms (such as Shopify, WooCommerce, and Xero) and custom integration.
PayFast offers a variety of features to help merchants get paid online, from platform integrations, ‘Pay Now’ buttons that can be integrated into a website, the Request a Payment feature where merchants can request payment via email, and recurring billing options. Their newest feature is Split Payments, a first of its kind in South Africa that splits a portion of online payment with a third party. This is the ideal solution for digital marketplaces, as Split Payments instantly splits out commission, membership, referral, affiliate, or listing fees when a payment is made.
In July 2019 PayFast was acquired by the DPO Group, spurring the growth of Africa’s largest online payments provider.
For more information, visit www.payfast.co.za
Reading Time: 3 minutes
A Story of Resilience
Some of the greatest business legends have shared their stories of resilience, about never giving up and about how winning is just getting up one more time than you were knocked down.
Beautiful, thought-provoking quotes that can be much harder to live through and by.
Sheila’s story below reminds us of the grit and determination that is required to get up again and again. We felt privileged when she shared it with us, and we hope you do too.
Wolf Printing offers a whole host of products and services for the corporate sector as well as the man in the street. No order is too small or too big for Wolf Printing to handle.
Their aim is to offer each customer individual attention and build a strong and lasting relationship with them.
Their range of products for the corporate sector is extensive and their range of personalised items spans everything from custom printed wall decals to custom printed children’s aprons. Their range can be viewed on Facebook and we challenge you to take a look and not find something you want to order.
If you are looking for something in particular, they encourage customers to send them an email with their requirements.
“I have been in sales all my life and 8 years ago I decided to start my own business – corporate and personalised gifts and clothing. I have never been in this trade before and decided to give it a try. It has been an uphill battle as I did not have much capital – only enough to buy the basic machines. I am 62 and my partner is 57 and Sheila learned all her designing on google as we did not have funds to go for courses. 3 years ago our vehicle was stolen, which left us in a terrible situation as we could not get to suppliers or customers.
Related: Women in business part 2: Real women, real challenges, real engagement
Sheila got a small pension payout and we eventually bought a 2nd hand vehicle. Then last year we were held up in our home by 6 armed men and they stole our computers, cell phones, camera, and other items. As we were not insured, this set us back again. And as you know, this year the dreaded COVID-19 struck and we are now 3 months behind on rent with a landlord threatening eviction at the end of lockdown.
These last 5 years have been an absolute nightmare, but this is all we have, so will fight to the bitter end.”
Cheryl and Sheila demonstrate the beauty of resilience in their ability to pivot and view each change and challenge as an opportunity to grow and further build a business that serves their customers better.
Related: Women Powering SA: Ann Clark, Options in Training
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter.
Download the Wolf Printing catalogue here.
Contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org
Windham Ave, Hillary, Durban, 4024
Phone: 031 – 463 3801
Cell: 071 006 3100
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Back in primary school, as her classmates jostled all around her on the playground, Boitumelo Moroe was getting ready to start her first business.
“From a young age, I fully understood the value of money and profit. I was that school girl always finding something to sell, from cupcakes, lemonade to beads.”
But, after matriculating, Moroe stepped away from entrepreneurship and followed a more traditional path: enrolling in university and earning her degree.
Once she graduated, Moroe started working a corporate job.
Up until that moment, Moroe’s career embodied modern, professional success: she had a great position in a big corporate and all the benefits it provided.
But it wasn’t long before she realised she could no longer ignore the yearning to go out on her own.
She was ready to take the leap.
“The desire to set my own limits and to get out of the comfort zone propelled me to be an entrepreneur. Armed with a vision and belief in thyself, I left the glamorous corporate world, and in a flash, I was back at it.”
That’s when Moroe founded ECU Express, an automotive electro-software company.
And she’s never looked back.
ECU Express specialises in the diagnostics, repairs, replacements, and programming of electronic control modules, the on-board computers in cars.
The company solves that universal problem shared by frustrated vehicle owners: finding quality parts at reasonable prices.
“We regard ourselves as the ‘vehicle gurus’—solving complex vehicle problems daily. Our aim is to offer affordable yet quality automotive solutions to our clientele by bridging the gap between expensive brand new products and parts bought from scrapyards, mostly with no guarantee. Our customer base ranges from dealers, workshops, bush mechanics to individuals.”
For Moroe, ECU Express is far more than just a business.
Her work is challenging, rewarding, and unpredictable, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The thrill and challenges that come with being in the automotive software industry are second to none. I enjoy waking up and not knowing what direction my day is going to take. I enjoy being able to get my hands dirty (in a sophisticated way, of course), whilst wearing heels. I enjoy hearing an old lady saying that her car has started after it wasn’t running for eight months. I enjoy keeping abreast of the new developments made in automotive electro-software engineering and breaking new ground.”
Her advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs is simple:
Don’t delay your business dream.
“You are better off initially running with an idea than waiting for the perfect idea. That’s something I sometimes struggle with because of my perfectionist personality.”
She encourages young people to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions confidently.
Moroe admits this isn’t always easy in a world that frowns upon failure.
“With time and effort, the idea will turn into a good idea; and with continued passion, the good idea will turn into the perfect idea. It is OK to fail and make mistakes because through failure we are simply ‘failing forward’ one step at a time. As an entrepreneur, you need to continuously bulldoze your way in – be loud, be unashamed and grab what’s yours.”
Giving young people the tools they need to become successful entrepreneurs starts at school, said Moroe.
“I am a firm believer that quality education can alleviate poverty in our country and reduce the staggering youth unemployment rate of about 53%. Let’s start with the basics – our educational system should be equipping children with entrepreneurial skills while they’re still at school.”
She thinks of entrepreneurship as a safety net; a set of skills a person can draw on at any time to generate an income for themselves and their families.
“This would mean that should such children, at any point in their lives, find themselves unemployed, they don’t play the pity game but instead know how to use the opportunities around them and turn them into a business idea. The government has done well with the number of youth incubation programs and funding in place but more can always be done.”
Though society celebrates the lifestyles of entrepreneurs, it’s not always easy. But the rewards make it worth it, said Moroe.
“Whenever the going gets tough, I always remind myself how far I have come – from trying to prove my worth in a male-dominated industry and standing out whilst at it, to the sacrifices I’ve had to make – and how much further I am yet to go.”
There might be challenges along the way, but Moroe simply rejected failure as an option a long time ago.
“Once you make a decision to jump into the ocean, you can only stop swimming when you get to the shore—quitting is never an option. You need to soldier on and keep focused on the dream. It is vital for one to continuously reconnect with the vision, which is something I do daily with my morning chants.”
Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and co-founder, said young people had an important role to play in growing the economy and adding jobs.
“Every day we see young people who are going out and changing the world. It’s up to us to give them the support they need to do that. That’s why we’re so proud to back young business owners like Boitumelo.”
Reading Time: 2 minutes
A South African SME is on a mission to get one million face shields to pupils and teachers across the country to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the nation’s schools.
This week, Cape Town-based online printing store, Webprinter Online Printing, distributed 15 000 face shields to 30 schools.
Peter Kohnert, managing director at Webprinter Online Printing, said the company developed its 1millionsmiles initiative to support the schools that most needed protective equipment.
“We wanted to help and saw nobody was thinking about the schools. We saw reports that up to 80% of schools had no protection, so we reached out to schools,” said Kohnert.
Through partnerships with its suppliers, Webprinter Online Printing produces the disposable face shields at a cost of R10.
“We will beat this crisis by standing together. Keeping our educators safe is critical, and our colourful disposable face shields have been specifically designed with them in mind. The shield provides much-needed protection while incorporating a clear window. This allows pupils to see the educator’s face which is an important aspect for effective teaching,” said the company in a statement on its website.
Donors have the option to sponsor a specific school. Or, they can make a cash donation and Webprinter Online Printing selects a school in need.
The shields are 100% locally produced, so the project helps to create jobs. Kohnert said the initiative was attracting support from international donors.
This initiative comes during a time of uncertainty about whether schools are ready to re-open after a two-month lockdown.
Initially, all schools were set to open on 1 June. However, Angie Motshekga, Basic Education Minister, postponed this to 8 June. The reason for the delay was because schools said they had not received protective equipment.
Days before schools were set to re-open, teachers tested positive for COVID-19 at two Western Cape schools. And teachers’ unions have called on their members not to return to school if they were not satisfied with the school’s protection measures.
In addition, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the wellbeing of children was critical.
In his weekly newsletter, the president said schools would only be allowed to re-open if children and teachers would be kept safe.
“As parents, teachers, governing bodies and government, we are in agreement that no school should re-open until all the necessary precautions are in place. There needs to be transparency about the level of preparedness of each of the schools. Everyone who is a key role player, be they a parent, a school governing body member, a teacher or a government official should be able to have the correct information about the state of preparedness of each school. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is safe.”
Efforts like 1millionsmiles are an example of this kind of shared responsibility, said Trevor Gosling, Lulalend CEO and co-founder.
“It’s been encouraging to see small businesses, like Webprinter Online Printing, step forward to play a role in the response to COVID-19. We’re incredibly inspired by the team’s commitment to protecting schoolchildren and fighting the spread of coronavirus.”
Kohnert had a message for other organisations that wanted to help during the COVID-19 crisis:
“Anybody can help. Yes, we have this huge goal of 1 million people, but every little bit helps. We can all look around us. Every kind of SME can help in some way, and we’ll start to trigger a chain reaction. A lot of small steps is a lot better than two or three big steps.”
To donate, visit the 1millionsmiles website or its page on Thundafund.