Online vs in-store grocery shopping prices in SA

 ·9 Sep 2015

If you are willing to pay the premium cost of delivery, and potentially miss out on some in-store specials, online grocery shopping may be a viable option for South Africans.

Two of the country’s major food retailers – Pick n Pay and Woolworths – offer online shopping services and deliveries.

While both groups have reported that online purchases account for a small portion of revenue approximately 1% to date, there has been an increase in consumers perusing the digital platforms to do their grocery shopping.

BusinessTech recently did a rudimentary pricing comparison between the large retailers, and using the same basket of goods, we’ve checked to see how the two online options for Pick n Pay and Woolworths compare to their physical retail counterparts.

It should be noted up-front that the delivery charge is included in the online basket, as they are an essential part of the service, and are chalked up as the premium you pay to avoid having to drive to a store and stand in a queue.

All prices represented are as seen on packaging or signage in-store, and the exact same product online.

Pick n Pay

Pick n Pay online vs store

Product In-store price Online price Price difference
Apples R16.50 R16.50
Bread R6.50 R6.99 +R0.49
Cabbage R10.99 R10.99
Coca Cola R13.50 R15.99 +R2.49
Eggs R12.95 R12.95
Flour R32.99 R30.99 -R2.00
Maize R17.49 R17.48 -R0.01
Margarine R17.95 R16.95 -R1.00
Milk R22.79 R22.79
Rice R18.29 R18.29
Sugar R23.90 R26.99 +R3.09
Tea R14.89 R14.89
Delivery (minimum) R50.00 +R50.00
Total R208.74 R261.80 +R53.06

Pick n Pay’s online prices match in-store prices pretty much directly, with a few exceptions.

The key price differences show up where the online store cannot account for in-store specials (for example, the price of Coca Cola).

In a few cases, however, the online prices are cheaper than in-store.

Pick n Pay’s delivery fees range between R50 and R90, depending on which slots are available for delivery. Taking the cheapest rate (R50) into account, with the selected basket of goods it costs over 25% more to by online.

Without delivery fees, Pick n Pay online is only 1.4% more expensive, likely due to store-specific savings.


Woolworths online vs store

Product In-store price Online price Price difference
Apples R14.99 R21.99 +R7.00
Bread R11.95 R13.45 +R1.50
Cabbage R12.99 R12.99
Coca Cola R15.95 R15.95
Eggs R20.99 R20.99
Flour R13.95 R14.95 +R1.00
Maize R18.95 R19.95 +R1.00
Margarine R23.99 R23.99
Milk R27.95 R27.95
Rice R22.95 R24.95 +R2.00
Sugar R29.95 R29.95
Tea R15.95 R15.95
Delivery R50.00 +R50.00
Total R230.56 R293.06 R62.50

Woolworths’ online pricing is a hit and miss when compared to the retail costs.

As with Pick n Pay, online shoppers are not able to take advantage of in-store specials, which may vary from branch to branch – but in some cases the online prices are simply more expensive.

Notably, the price of buying apples (1.5kg, golden delicious) is as much as R7 more expensive online than it is in-store.

Other discrepancies include the price of flour (1kg, self-raising) which is R1 more – and normal brown bread (700g) which is R1.50 more online.

Woolies’ delivery charges are similar to Pick n Pay’s in that they range between R50 and R95, and are determined by location, rather than time slot.

For the selected basket of goods, Woolworths Online is 27% more expensive that in-store.

Without delivery fees, Woolworths online is 5.4% more expensive than in-store, for this specific basket of goods.

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