In the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, supermarket giant Pick n Pay (PnP) is upping the ante in South Africa’s online retail game, by launching a same-day grocery delivery service in partnership with alcohol delivery app Bottles.
Via the service dubbed Grocery Essentials, the retailer is now able to deliver groceries to customers directly from selected stores across the country on the same day.
With PnP being one of the businesses allowed to trade under the lockdown as an “essential service” grocer, this move is clearly aimed at leveraging off its position in the market.
The group was one of SA’s first major food retailers to also pursue online sales as part of an ‘omni-channel’ retail strategy several years back, ahead of major competitors such as Shoprite and Massmart.
Bottles app re-engineered
“Bottles is an on-demand alcohol delivery app that works in partnership with Pick n Pay,” the retailer noted in a statement announcing the new venture on Tuesday. “With the lockdown and the ban on alcohol sales, they re-engineered their app from alcohol to groceries in record time.”
It says the service will help PnP’s online shopping service deliver essential groceries, at store prices, to customers faster during the lockdown. PnP already offers online shopping through its website and app, and has significantly increased its number of delivery slots per week.
It says the same-day service was piloted last week and has already expanded to more than 70 stores in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. More stores are expected to be added countrywide.
“Grocery Essentials will offer customers an easy and more efficient way to stay safe and top up everyday basic essential items – from milk and bread to cooking oil and nappies,” says Jessica Knight, head of online at PnP.
“Orders are picked from local Pick n Pay stores,” she adds. “We have integrated the Bottles app with in-store availability to help us deliver on customers’ orders in full wherever possible. Should the product become unavailable from the time of placing the order, the store will always try find a suitable replacement item.”
Knight says PnP continues to review products offered on the app based on customer feedback. “We’ve already added over 600 new products since our pilot last week. We want to make this as convenient for customers as possible.”
According to the Cape Town-based retailer, customers already have the choice of over 1 500 products via the service and can purchase up to 30 different products in one order (limits may apply per product).
All deliveries will be contactless, and customers can track their delivery on the Bottles app. Delivery costs R45 and there is a service fee of R15.
More stores to be added
“The systems we have put in place will let us scale the service,” notes Knight. “We will roll it out to more stores so that we can serve more customers, both in metropolitan areas and towns.”
Meanwhile, hoping to gain online traction against PnP and Woolworths, Shoprite also launched a same-day delivery service late last year through its more upmarket Checkers chain. At the time it said the grocery delivery service, named Sixty60, would deliver groceries within an hour.
The latest move by PnP is likely to be well-received by consumers in lockdown. However, South Africa’s retailers, including online giant Takealot, have a long way to go in the same-day delivery stakes when compared with online behemoths like Amazon in the US.
Amid the lockdown, Woolworths has faced complaints about grocery deliveries taking several days due to unprecedented demand, which has seen its food sales spike some 27%. Massmart’s deliveries also sometimes take several days.
The click-and-collect service offered by several retailers such as PnP, Clicks, Dis-Chem, Makro and Takealot is also becoming more popular as online and omni-channel retail grows in South Africa.