The Covid-19 pandemic saw a major shift in shopping habits towards the online space, and South Africa’s grocery retailers were forced to adapt quickly to accommodate this.
Three of the country’s largest retail chains – Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Checkers – responded to the shift by adapting, partnering with and launching same-day delivery service platforms.
Checkers was arguably already ahead of the curve, having launched its Sixty60 same-day delivery service in 2019, with the aim to get limited shopping carts to your door within 60 minutes. Following unprecedented demand at the onset of the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020, however, this was adapted to be more of a time-slotted delivery service, though still targetting the same day.
Pick n Pay and Woolworths have had thriving online stores and delivery for some time, but 2020 saw both these groups adopt a same-day approach to meet demand.
Pick n Pay, expanded its partnership with the Bottles app during the early stages of lockdown, and then acquired and fully integrated the platform by the end of 2020. Woolworths launched Woolies Dash in December, with the service currently in trial mode.
We looked at the differences between these platforms, and tried them out.
Although operating from three different services, the same-day delivery apps have many similarities. All three have a 30-item limit on baskets, and all operate in one-hour delivery time-slots, split across store hours.
All offer in-app tracking of deliveries, though different nuances exist in how the services communicate this.
At a glance, these are the key comparison points:
Woolworths launched its same-day delivery service in December 2020, and currently operates on a trial basis with a few participating stores.
Of the three same-day delivery apps, it has the smallest coverage, with 18 stores participating in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. As a result, the service is significantly limited compared to Bottles and 60Sixty to date.
Woolworths has acknowledged this. The service is operating in trial mode, and will remain so for the time-being – though it is expected to scale up in the coming weeks and months, according to the group.
Despite its limited availability, the service aims to offer a more bespoke experience, promising a ‘personal shopper’ who will keep in contact with you while adding your selected products to the basket. For this, it carries a higher base delivery fee of R50 – but this is waived if the basket price is over R75. The free delivery is available during the trial and may be subject to change.
As it is still in trial mode, the system is not integrated with other Woolworths operations, so store credit cannot be used to pay, and the WRewards and MySchool programmes do not apply.
An additional consequence of the trial mode is that not all time slots are operating at capacity, making it incredibly difficult to actually make use of the service. If you’re not in the right area, and try too late in the day, Woolworths says “please try tomorrow”.
- Key differentiator: Free delivery, and no minimum order. Woolies Dash balances out its charges. It doesn’t force to you meet a minimum order limit, but will charge you a relatively big delivery fee if you go cheap. It has cold storage along the delivery chain, so products are kept as fresh as possible.
- Our experience: The service was not available in the area. When we tried to order for delivery somewhere close to a participating store, delivery slots were full for the day.
Bottles by PnP
Pick n Pay partnered with Bottles – an alcohol delivery app – in April 2020 at the onset of hard lockdown in the country. The partnership would later become an acquisition in October 2020 as Pick n Pay folded Bottles into its group, and maintained it as its de facto same-day delivery service.
As with the other same day delivery services, the Bottles by PnP platform gives shoppers access to groceries and items available at nearby stores – though not full stock. Deliveries are scheduled in one-hour time slots and carry a flat fee of R35.
A new development with Bottles by PnP is the integration of Pick n Pay’s SmartShopper rewards.
To earn loyalty points when shopping on the Bottles by PnP app, customers will need to add their Smart Shopper card number at checkout. The app will automatically save the Smart Shopper card number for all future app purchases.
Customers will also soon be able to enjoy the full Smart Shopper benefits via the app, which includes spending their points, Smart Price deals, and personalised discounts, the group said.
After Checkers, Pick n Pay’s same-day delivery service has the second-largest coverage, with 70 participating stores over five provinces. The service is not yet available in the Northern Cape, the North-West, Limpopo or Mpumalanga.
- Key differentiator: Rewards. With the announcement that Pick n Pay’s SmartShopper rewards are being integrated into the Bottles platform, it has become the only same-day delivery service to have it – at least for now.
- Our experience: The order process was simple to follow and selected items were set to be delivered in the 15h00 to 16h00 slot. The order arrived at 14h15, which was earlier than expected. All items were in good order with no errors or substitutions made.
Checkers Sixty60 launched in November 2019 and gained a significant market lead over its competitors. It currently has the widest coverage, with at least one participating store in every province in the country – though most of the 124 stores users can access are concentrated in Joburg, Cape Town and eThekwini.
Like PnP Bottles, the service carries a fixed delivery fee of R35, but requires a minimum spend of R100 to make use of it at all.
Items available reflect the stock of the closest participating store, and delivery is assigned in one-hour slots during store hours. Drivers can be tracked in real time, with updates on delivery available via WhatsApp.
There are now more than 15,000 products available on the Sixty60 app.
It’s worth noting that Sixty60 carries a pre-authorisation premium of 15% on your total basket price to make room for possible replacements in your order. Once the order has been finalised and shipped, any excess amounts are refunded.
- Key differentiator: Availability and price. Sixty60 is currently the most widely available of the same-day delivery services, and so you’re more likely to be able to make use of it. Checkers also has the cheapest prices.
- Our experience: Payment didn’t go through with the first attempt, as the app didn’t correctly trigger 3D Secure on my phone. However, the second attempt went through as expected. The order was set to be delivered in the 14h00 to 15h00 slot, and arrived at 14h34 – well within the window period. All the items were in good order and no substitution were made.
Spar does not have a dedicated online or app-based order and delivery platform, but with the spread of Covid-19 some franchisees have launched their own limited online shopping features.
This functionality is currently only available at five Spar stores in three provinces, and each has its own process and limits. The only Spar in Gauteng offering this service is the Queenswood SuperSpar in Pretoria, which only delivers on orders over R100, and charges a flat R60 delivery fee.
The store only delivers within a 15km radius of the store, and orders need to be placed before noon to qualify for same-day delivery between 13h00 and 15h00. Orders placed after noon are delivered the next day.