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Emerging digital voucher systems help Kiwi businesses during lockdown

Thousands of business owners and their employees are wondering how they are going to make it through the Covid-19 lockdown.

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SOS Café was set up so customers can hold on to vouchers until their favourite café reopens. Source: Seven Sharp


But several entrepreneurs have started up systems where people can buy vouchers from local businesses to keep them afloat during the lockdown - vouchers they can spend when things get back to normal.

The Rosetta café in Raumati Beach opened a year ago and is now a local coffee hot spot cherished by locals.

“We’ve got quite a few regular customers that come in every day,” says co-owner Letitia Thomas.

“A lot of the other locals know us as well, so it’s really grown,” she says.

However when the Covid-19 crisis hit the nation, it also hit businesses and hit them hard.

“We’ve just worked so hard for a whole year and a lot of other people have done it for a lot longer than us - everything that they love and they’ve worked for is just nothing at the moment," says Ms Thomas. 

That’s where SOS Café stepped in to help rescue struggling café business by setting up an online voucher system.

In a matter of days, 200 businesses registered, hoping loyal customers would pledge their support by buying vouchers to cash in once the lockdown lifts.

“We’ve got all these amazing stories of these lovely people around the country whose customers want them there when they reopen again in a few weeks’ time,” David Downs of SOS Café says.

And it’s not the only voucher system that’s been set up over lockdown.

Gifticon is another Kiwi voucher startup that has seen over 2000 sold in the past two months.

It offers customers discounted products from a wide range of businesses, encouraging transactions even while lockdown is underway.

Director and founder, Sam Kim told 1 NEWS the Gifticon app has already had almost 10,000 downloads from around New Zealand and overseas.

“There are a lot of big brands participating like Domino’s and Hell Pizza, but also smaller businesses ranging from cafes to retailers.”

He said the app offers a great way to buy products at a discount but also encourages businesses to keep turning over, with 100 per cent of the funding going straight to the business.

That means if a business sells a voucher, Gifticon covers the discounted amount so the customer pays less but the business gets the full amount.

“I’m not worried about making money at the moment, we just want our customers to enjoy our product which encourages them to purchase vouchers and then we are helping businesses out.”