Tips to boost your eCommerce sales on Cyber Monday

Tips to boost your eCommerce sales on Cyber Monday

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If your business is gearing up for Cyber Monday then you already know that your deals should be too good to resist. Whether you have a physical store or sell your products exclusively online, setting up for a Cyber Monday special is a crucial part of driving sales during the festive season. 

If you don’t have an online store yet, fear not. It’s not too late. Here’s a guide on how you can set one up.

 

While eCommerce giants like Takealot, Superbalist, Zando, and others might get the most media publicity around Cyber Monday and Black Friday, it does not mean they are the only players in the game. With a little planning, smaller retailers can implement strategies to have profitable sales on Cyber Monday. 

 

Here’s our list of 5 tips to help boost your Cyber Monday sales: 

  • Start with an epic Cyber Monday offer
  • Don’t forget to advertise
  • Create a worthwhile experience for your customers
  • Make sure you close the sale
  • Secure a lifelong customer

 

 

  1. Start with an epic Cyber Monday offer

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Holiday Report, 95% of shoppers say that price discounts are the most appealing promotional offer, followed by free shipping and gifts. A great strategy here is offering a further discount on Black Friday offers or new discounts on specific items. These should be items or services that are already popular so you can almost guarantee a couple of sales. 

 

 

  1. Don’t forget to advertise

Whether you’re using pamphlets, social media, or even word-of-mouth, you have to advertise your offers so people know about it. With it being CYBER Monday, you’ll want to put more focus on your digital marketing efforts. This is the one place gift-givers and avid shoppers look for inspiration.

 

 

  1. Create a worthwhile experience for your customers

Now that you’ve got customers on your site (or in your store), you have to make sure they have a pleasant shopping experience. Optimizing your website for mobile is key to attract customers who are able to shop anywhere and anytime, or might not have access to a desktop. Remember to be on standby to manage the spike in traffic to your site. The last thing you want is to lose a sale because your site crashed. 

 

 

  1. Make sure you close the sale

Getting customers to ‘Add to cart’ is only half the job. Getting customers to check out is what seals the deal. Make sure your promotional prices are clear for each item or service. If there are extra charges such as taxes and delivery fees that come up at check out, customers may abandon their carts.  It should also be clear to shoppers where they need to enter any promotional codes. If you can, add a cart total somewhere on your pages, that runs as the shoppers add to their cart so they know how much they will pay. 

 

 

  1. Secure a lifelong customer

While some Cyber Monday customers may be new to your site, this is a great opportunity to make sure they come back. If they have a seamless shopping experience, followed by great (but not suffocating) customer service along with it, they’re most likely to return. You should also plan to follow up with your new customers shortly after their first purchase to ask them about their experience and strengthen that relationship.

 

Cyber Monday is a great way to boost your online sales in time for the holidays. If you are able to plan ahead and work your strategies well, you’re sure to see success.

Get ahead of your Black Friday Marketing

Get ahead of your Black Friday Marketing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Anyone who is in the retail business or has previously owned a retail store of any kind will tell you that Black Friday – and the festive season as a whole – is the best time to grow your sales. 

And the numbers certainly don’t lie. A Geopoll survey showed that over the last three years, Black Friday shopper numbers have grown by an extensive 16 percentage points.

Despite South Africa’s slow economic growth over the years, consumers are still interested and willing to spend money – especially when there are major savings involved.

However, you can’t be too confident because your competitor knows this as well – and they will surely have a few tricks up their sleeves to cash in on the busy buying season. With this in mind, it’s always important to have a great marketing campaign that is unique to your brand in order to stand out from the crowd and bump up your sales.

 

Related: 5 Ways Your Small Business Can Prepare For Black Friday

 

Here are a few of our top tips for marketing your business for Black Friday.

1.Have your sale for longer

Extending your sale or savings period further than the Black Friday and Cyber Monday window will give you more opportunities for sales. Yes, we’ve seen this tactic many times before [How many businesses start promoting their Christmas promos in October?] This is the perfect time to get creative.
Using comedy, emotive language, and familiar faces or trends to lure customers will definitely re-engage the stragglers who might be holding off for a better deal.

 

2. Say yes to in-app offers

Mobile eCommerce is definitely where it’s at – whether it’s on a mobile site or an app. Most consumers are glued to their devices anyway, so offering a mobile-only saving is definitely a plus.
However, you have to be very clear in your messaging that deals on offer are specifically for mobile-only and will not be available in store. This provides your mobile-first audience with a sense of exclusivity, but it also allows you to easily track which – and how many – of your customers came to your site via push notification or email.

You can also use this time to remind your customers that shopping online saves them a lot of time and frustration during the #BlackFriday rush.

 

3. Make a gift guide

The festive season is a time for giving, and creating various gift guides for your customers using products they can buy from your business makes you stand out as a convenient store of choice.
This is also a great way to attract customers outside your normal target audience who are looking to purchase gifts for their friends and family.

A smart way to do this is to group your products first by your most overarching customer segments, then get more specific within each of these categories. For example, gifts for men, women, and children, and even colleagues.

 

4. Let your buyers shop ‘guilt-free’

While some shoppers are very clearly focused on the #BlackFriday specials for items they want for themselves, we should not forget that some people might also have the ghost of Christmas upon their shoulders to ‘do the right thing.’
So why not offer the best of both? Creating a donation option at payment is a great way to do this. This way, both your customers and a charity of your choice gets a little something – and you clean up. It’s a win-win-win situation.

 

5. Everyone loves a giveaway

Since it’s the season of giving, a little thank you to the customers that shop at your store will go a long way. The chance to win a great collection of goods from your store just for shopping during your #BlackFriday or #CyberMonday specials will keep the customers coming back.

 

Related: 5 Ways to support local businesses this Heritage Month

Even though you should leverage Black Friday and the festive season as an opportunity to increase sales and make your business some extra cash, you should not forget the complete customer journey. Sometimes, the most wholesome and effective approach is to stick to what your customers love while adding an extra saving on the goods they love.

If you’re in need of funds to make the most of your #BlackFriday sale this year, we’ve got you covered. We’re offering you a repayment holiday until January 2021 if you apply for funding before 30 November.

Check out more on this exclusive Lulalend offer here.

How to write the perfect business plan

How to write the perfect business plan

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Guest blog by Govchain

Simply put, a business plan is a document that explains what your business is all about. It sets out what the business is planning to do, how it’s going to do it, and over what sort of timeline it’s planning to do it over. A good business plan helps give the business direction and serves as a reference guide to make sure you have a laser focus on the most important goals of the company. So, what makes a good business plan? 

The more detailed you make your business plan, the more encompassing of your mission it will be, making it clear how the business will be run. But, pro tip: don’t get distracted by unnecessary details, a good business plan focuses on the core of business – how it’s going to generate money. Stick to the point and plan everything around that.

Longer and more formal business plans start with an Executive Summary. This is a brief summary of the entire business plan – the trick here is to make it as comprehensive, yet concise, as possible. For a busy investor your Executive Summary might be the deciding factor in whether they go on to read your full business plan or not, so make it count.

Next is an Introduction to your company. This is exactly what it sounds like – an introduction to who you are, your history, how you came up with the idea for the business, what work you’ve done so far, your location, and your management.

 

Related: A quick guide to Bridging Finance

 

After that comes the Company Summary. This is structured in four parts:

Vision: This describes the change that the company is looking to make and how that will impact the community it serves and the world. It’s usually a high-level aspirational statement.

Mission: This explains why the company exists and what its central goals are – spreading its products and/or services. You can include who the major customers will be, but keep it short and sweet.

Objectives: These are measurable outcomes that your company wants to achieve through the business. Include estimated growth figures like how much do you plan on growing every year, how many sales a month do you plan on making etc.

Values: These are your ethics, your core beliefs about how the company is run, and how you want to operate in the world. Examples are integrity, consistency, and spreading positive change. Vision and Values tend to stay the same over the life of a company, but Objectives can change as the business grows over time, which may influence your Mission. 

 

After Company Summary comes the Production/Service Overview. Here you describe in detail how the company makes its products or how the service will be carried out, being very clear with what goes into the processes. Following this is another section on Products and Services where you list all the various things your business might produce, including waste products and/or added services.

To show how you fit into the relevant market, include an Industry Overview. In this section, you describe what other role-players in the industry are doing, what the total market size is, and, if applicable, how much of that total you are planning to take over. If your business covers more than one industry, be sure to show this.

A section on Research and Development is a good place to show how you are planning to improve your products and/or services, and how you plan to offer a better experience for your customers than that of your competitors. Here you can also talk about things you would like to look into in the future as your business grows.

 

Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA

 

Now for the big one – your Financial Plan. This, after the Executive Summary, is the second thing a busy investor will look at, so make sure you do it properly. A full Financial Plan typically includes:

  • Assumptions made about the business and markets,
  • Options for financing the business, e.g. loans, direct investment or grants,
  • If applicable, a Facility Cost where you lay out all expenses needed to build or fit out the premises. A general rule of thumb is that building ends up costing double what you expect, so budget for this,
  • A Unit Cost Analysis – working out each and every cost that goes into making the product or service that you will be selling to figure out how much you will be charging. This is calculated by adding fixed cost ‘overheads’ (like rent for premises, salaries of employees, water and electricity, etc) to the variable cost of inputs needed to produce each unit, and then dividing it by the total number of units you will be able to produce given those costs. Be thorough here and think about all the costs, everything from insurance to staples,
  • A detailed 3-Year Cash Flow Plan, showing that you will always have cash available, even if you are operating at a loss at the beginning, and
  • A 5-Year Profit/Loss Plan, showing how you will grow and start building capital. Be sure to include the breakeven point. This is the important day where all costs of setting up the business will be repaid and from where you will start making a continuous profit. 

 

Pro Tip: Balance being optimistic, realistic, and prudent when doing your costing – rather ask for a bit more investment and make sure that the business always has cash instead of having to ask for more later.

A final section to include is one detailing your Risk Management. All companies and businesses face risks, and it’s important to consider how you will stay safe. This includes things like insurance, staffing plans, legal matters, and other strategies to make sure things run smoothly.

 

It’s important to be honest and realistic in this document. Exaggerating or underplaying certain things will come out eventually, which will lead to some uncomfortable meetings and explanations. That being said, also think about who you are going to give the document to, and consider what they want to see. You can cater the business plan to a specific investor so long as your document is still accurate and truthful. Depending on what you want to achieve, perhaps let an accountant or someone with experience in the business have a look through the plan and financials before giving it to investors.

Remember that most investors look at the bottom line; they want to see that your business is, or is going to be, profitable. Include any Purchase Orders, Letters of Intent of other contracts as annexures to the business plan. Some investors might be looking to add different types of value to their investment portfolios, such as environmental responsibility and corporate social responsibility – if your business falls into one of those areas, be sure to point it out to them.

Even if you aren’t looking for investors, a good business plan helps bring structure to your company and the objectives within. It also helps to speak to people around you when writing your business plan, to test ideas against them. They may think about things in a way you hadn’t thought of before, which will help to further refine your ideas. Finally, remember to update the business plan as things move along so that it always remains the working manual your company can use to be successful at business!

 

Ready to take the first step in your entrepreneurial journey? Meet Govchain, your partner in company registration and small business compliance. Register your company quickly and easily online, no paperwork needed.

How to move your retail business online

How to move your retail business online

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic is anything to go by, we know that in order to survive in business, one must adapt. If you’re a retailer, right now this means going digital. In this guide, we’ve unpacked the basics of what you need to know if you are looking to move your retail business online and develop eCommerce capabilities. We’ve also provided an indication of how much you’ll need to invest.

DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE GUIDE HERE

Know your target customer

At this point, you should be very well versed in who your customer is and what their buying behaviour is. You need to research whether your customer base does in fact shop online and whether they will be willing to do so for your business and the products or services you sell.

 

Optimize your products, services, and offerings

What you sell or offer online must make sense, be easy to find, attractively presented, and be readily available.

 

Related: Business High Five: Online tools to improve your business

 

Choose the right eCommerce platform for your business

Having the right website and eCommerce platform for your business goes hand in hand. If you do not have a website already, there’s always the option to build your own website (integrating with an eCommerce platform) if you have the budget and resources available.

 

Choose a payment gateway

The final basic step to setting up your online selling channel is choosing the right payment gateway. If you want to maximise your online sales, choosing a gateway that has a variety of payment options is important. To match the payment preferences of online shoppers in South Africa, you will need to offer most of the following payment methods; Credit and debit cards, Instant EFT, Masterpass, Mobicred, and  Zapper.

 

Related: Move your business online by following these essential steps

 

Make sure your business has a digital presence

Marketing your business online may seem like a daunting task but as a small business owner, you can start small. No matter what industry you’re in, chances are your customers are online. It’s estimated that South Africans spend more than 9 hours a day online, according to a wearesocial.com report.

For the complete expert guide on how to move your retail business online, click here.

Gear up your business for growth

Gear up your business for growth

Reading Time: 2 minutes

According to entrepreneur.com, growing a business is not an easy task, and especially under the current economic climate. When you’re expanding your business, it’s important to remember that whatever your plan, you should consider the ever-changing marketplace. We’ve put together a few noteworthy tips on how you can best prepare your business for growth.

 

Plan ahead

Setting out achievable short term and long term goals are important. Goals act as a guide to what you need to do and when you need to do it. Having a clear plan of the direction you want your business to take will help in reducing the risks associated with expansion.

When you have plans, you are also able to make difficult decisions that help you stay on track.

 

Recruit the right people

Having a strong team is the foundation of any successful business. When hiring new people to join your business, it is important to have a diverse group of people who are clear on what your business vision is.

Each member of your team should have an understanding of what is expected from them and how their contribution adds value to the goal. In this way, you are also able to evaluate performance and reward good work.

Budget permitting, building a human resources team can streamline the recruitment process and ensure you find the best people the first time. This will also assist in providing your teams with ongoing feedback and development.

 

Related: Move your business online by following these essential steps

 

Improve your processes

Having clear processes makes it easier to understand what is needed to scale your business. You have to document how you do things within your business. When you have your processes down on paper, your employees can visualise the work they do from start to finish. If your processes are undefined, there is no way for you and your employees to measure that you are meeting requirements.

Having an open workplace culture has been proven to boost staff morale and balance out some of the uncertainty surrounding business processes that may seem overwhelming

 

Keep your customer in mind

When you are planning to grow your business, you must think about how what you are offering is different from others and why it should be the consumer’s first choice. It is important to always keep in mind what made your business succeed from the start.

Adding a personal touch to your product or service helps the customer feel connected to you and builds brand loyalty. This gives you the edge over larger companies who may not find this to be an essential part of their business model.

 

Related: Business Funding: An overview of how SMEs can access funding in SA

 

Review, review, review

It’s important to always go back and review your performance against your plans so you can improve them at every turn.

While your business goals will largely remain the same, your operating environment will always be changing. In order to truly evolve and gear your business for growth, adapting to change is always necessary.

Tips for the 2020/2021 tax season

Tips for the 2020/2021 tax season

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The tax season is upon us once again and we want to help you get your business prepared for submission. Complying with your tax obligations as a small business has been made a lot easier over the past few years as SARS continues its efforts to ultimately digitize and streamline the procedure.

It goes without saying, this tax season will unfold in a different manner due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While small businesses qualified for tax relief during the first 4 months of South Africa’s lockdown period, this also impacts how you’ll need to submit your taxes this year.

We, along with some of our friends who are experts in the field, have put together a few top tips to help with your business’s submission this year.

 

When is the tax season?

The tax season is split into three key periods for you to remember:

  1. April 15 to May 31 Employers submit their reconciliation of employee earnings and all third-party information providers (providers of interest certificates, medical aid certificates, retirement earnings are three examples) send their certificates to SARS and the relevant individuals. SARS also uses this information to start populating individuals’ tax returns.
  2. June 1 to August 31 Taxpayers need to ensure that all their information is up to date and accurate. During this period SARS will issue a large number of individual taxpayers with auto assessment notices via SMS messages. Taxpayers need to check their auto assessment on the SARS eFiling website or the SARS MobiApp and indicate if they accept the assessment outcome. SARS will also notify taxpayers whose third-party data is compliant that they may file early (i.e. before September 1).
  3. September 1 to January 1 All taxpayers should submit tax returns and provisional taxes and businesses due on 31 August for provisional tax. SARS will issue a public notice to confirm which taxpayers need to submit a return. Those taxpayers who file manually at a SARS branch must do so by October 22. Provisional individual taxpayers who complete their returns electronically must do so on or by January 31, 2021. Businesses have until 28 February 2021 to submit their return.

 

Related: 5 Simple Tax Tips That Save Business Owners Money and Time

 

Can you (and your employees) claim a tax deduction for working from home?

Thousands of employees have had to work from home since the lockdown began at the end of March. The Income Tax Act sets out basic requirements that must be met if this tax relief is to apply:

  • You must practice a “trade” – which can be employment. So purely by being employed this criterion is fulfilled.
  • The home office must have all the equipment you need to perform your job, such as a laptop, printer, WiFi, desk etc.
  • The home office must be used often and only for you to do your job. This space should not be a family/shared space when you have finished work for the day.
  • You must have worked from this space for at least 6 months of the year.

You can also find SARS’ tax relief measures guide here.

 

Is all relief received due to COVID-19 exempt from income tax?

“Simply put, yes,” says Bernice du Toit, Financial Accountant at Lulalend. The tax relief includes the following three sections:

  1. An exemption from income tax on funds and accruals received by the business from the government
  2. An exemption from donations tax on donations made to or by the business (limited to R10 000 per year for businesses); and
  3. Donations made to a business will be tax-deductible by the donor. “Deduction is limited to 10% of your taxable income per annum, and this deduction would only apply to donations for which a section 18A certificate has been obtained,” says Bernice du Toit.

Read up more on the list of registered PBO’s here, and section 18A here.

 

What about the TERS benefits?

SARS confirmed that TERS (Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme) benefits are payable in terms of the Unemployment Insurance Act and thus exempt from income tax.

According to Bowmanslaw.com, where the employer receives the TERS benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) in order to pay employees, the employer is merely processing the payment on behalf of the UIF.

 

Related: Tax Tips for SMEs from a professional tax consultant

 

Do you really need to submit a tax return?

According to Sue Willoughby of HorisonTax, it is vitally important, for many reasons, that all taxpayers stay tax-compliant. ‘“If you do not submit tax returns every year then you are not tax-compliant according to SARS. You should always submit a tax return even if it is a “nil-return”. Why do you need to stay tax-compliant? Well, if ever you need to get involved in a financial deal with any government department, institution, or municipal body, whether a loan, work contract, or otherwise, you will need to be tax compliant with SARS,” says Willoughby.

In certain cases, institutions may be reluctant to consider loans to people who are not tax-compliant. Institutions may need to see the latest SARS’s IT34. No ITR12’s and no IT34’s means you are not tax-compliant – it is as simple as that.

Visit www.horisontax.co.za if you need assistance with your filing this season.

 

The provisions set out by SARS and the disaster relief fund aims to help businesses and individual taxpayers stay tax compliant even during a pandemic. It’s important to remain tax compliant if you want your business to qualify for the COVID-relief. By following these tips and meeting all the relevant deadlines, you and your business can make it through the 2020/2021 tax season with a better understanding of what needs to be done to continue growing your business.