Checkers upended the market in November 2019 with the launch of the Sixty60 app, which promised delivery within as little as 60 minutes. The proposition hit the sweet spot consumers wanted: efficient, same-day delivery. Until this point, delivery services from rivals Pick n Pay and Woolworths offered only future-day delivery and required customers to book timeslots. This is not how normal people shopped for groceries, was among the first pitches from Checkers.
To be sure: Checkers was very late to the game. But it changed the game entirely. In its September results presentation, Shoprite Holdings highlights that Checkers had “pioneered one hour on-demand grocery delivery” in the country. A measured, careful rollout became an aggressive one during lockdown, where it quadrupled the base of stores which offered Sixty60 in 12 weeks. The service continues to be very popular – a simple look at the continually picked, fulfilled and dispatched paper-bag-walls of orders in stores proves it.
Sixty60 is the tenth most-popular app on iOS across all free apps in South Africa (Covid Alert and Capitec are the only other local apps in the top 10) and the number one shopping app in the country. (Woolies Dash is sixth in the shopping category. Bottles by PnP is third in the food and drink category, behind delivery behemoths Mr D Food and Uber Eats.)
Buying a partner to compete
Rival Pick n Pay expanded its partnership with alcohol delivery app Bottles and launched ‘grocery essentials’ delivery within the first week of the hard lockdown (the two had been partners on alcohol delivery since 2018). This was of benefit to both parties – Pick n Pay had a quick solution to what customers were demanding (same-day delivery) and Bottles had a business, given that the sale of alcohol was banned.
Initially, the partnership was limited as only 1500 grocery items were included. Usage continued to scale to the point where it likely dwarfed Bottles’ original business, once alcohol sales were permitted. In October, the retailer announced it would buy the business and integrate it into its online offering.
In December, it rebranded as “Bottles by PnP”, cut its delivery fee to R35 (the same as Sixty60) and extended both coverage and operating times. Notably, Bottles by PnP is the only of the three to have extended coverage to areas in Soweto, including Dobsonville and Diepkloof.
Late to the party
In December, Woolworths launched the trial of its Woolies Dash same-day service. The app, too, promised delivery within an hour.
That Woolies was late to the party is astonishing, given that it pioneered online grocery shopping in the early 2000s with inthebag.
It has entered a crowded, competitive market and has differentiated its offering by promising a “store-to-door cold chain”, meaning that orders will remain chilled throughout. This is not dissimilar to the technology used by meal prep services (such as UCOOK and Daily Dish) for delivery of their weekly boxes. It is a no-brainer for Woolworths to have doubled-down on freshness: that’s one of the key pillars of its food business.
It does, however, have the most integration work to do out of the three. Already, it offers online shopping, shopping via its app (a different experience to the former, with enhanced functionality) as well as click and collect at certain stores. Dash adds a fourth option for shoppers.
And it remains to be seen whether Woolies Dash will match the R35 delivery fee charged by its two main rivals once the trial period is over.
|Checkers Sixty60||Woolies Dash||Bottles by Pick n Pay|
|Delivery fee||R35||R50, free for orders over R75 during trial||R35|
|Coverage (generally within a ±5km radius of a store)||Much of Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban. Some coverage in Port Elizabeth, Nelspruit and Bloemfontein.
Full list here
|Generally, from larger stores serving upmarket suburbs in Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
Full list here
|Much of Joburg, Pretoria, Cape Town. Some coverage in Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London and Bloemfontein.
Full list here
|Number of stores||±87 stores||18 stores in phase one (trial)||±90 stores, including most newer ones|
|Number of items||Over 7000 groceries, including drinks from LiquorShop*||Not disclosed, but “the full range of your nearest store” is available||Over 8000 groceries, including drinks from PnP Liquor*|
|Speed||As little as 60 minutes||As little as 60 minutes||As little as 60 minutes|
|Minimum order value||R100||None||None (the website incorrectly reflects R50 as the minimum order)|
|Maximum order quantity||30 items||30 items||Not disclosed (>50 seems possible)|
|Limitations||Xtra Savings promotions not available||W Rewards (incl. My School) and store cards not yet linked||Smart Shopper not yet integrated|
* Obviously not available when sale of alcohol is restricted
What is not covered in this comparison is the reliability and efficiency of the three platforms. This is simply because these factors are incredibly difficult to judge, given the number of variables including day, time, store, what was ordered, as well as external factors such as traffic and weather conditions.
Sixty60 and Woolies Dash both allow shoppers to choose alternatives if there is no stock of a specific item, while PnP says Bottles will prompt a customer to select a replacement after an order is placed, should the initial item be out of stock. All three apps only accept card payments (credit and (chip-and-PIN) debit cards).
All three services promise delivery in as little as “60 minutes” but, practically, this more often than not means same-day delivery, with customers able to choose a one-hour timeslot.