Food and clothing retailer Woolworths, which offers South Africa’s most upmarket national chain of fresh food stores, is piloting its much-anticipated Woolies Dash same-day delivery service just days before Christmas.
The group announced on Wednesday the trial launch of its new on-demand, same-day delivery service out of select stores in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria.
To differentiate itself amid increasing competition in the on-demand grocery essentials space from rivals likes Checkers and Pick n Pay, Woolies Dash will offer a “store-to-door cold chain” delivery service.
The move follows Pick n Pay announcing on Tuesday that it had finalised the acquisition and integration of the Bottles on-demand service.
Both Bottles and Woolies Dash are set to take on the hugely successful Checkers Sixty60 app, which has grown exponentially since its launch last year as a within-60-minute essential groceries delivery service.
Online shopping and on-demand delivery have boomed even further on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen more people stay home or work from home.
“Woolies Dash will see Woolworths become the first and only retailer in South Africa to pioneer and offer store-to-door cold chain within an on-demand service of this kind,” Woolworths said in its statement.
“This also sets a new benchmark for cold-chain, which includes the latest world class refrigeration technology in a lightweight carrier,” it added.
Branding yet to be revealed
Unsurprisingly, the group did not provide visuals of what the concept looks like just yet, as competition between the trio of Cape Town-based retailers (Shoprite/Checkers, PnP and Woolworths Food) hots up.
Woolworths is known to have one of the most comprehensive fresh food cold-chains in the local market.
Its food division has seen major growth over the last few years, compared to its poorer-performing clothing and Australian (David Jones) divisions.
The group said its Woolies Dash service will give customers access to fast delivery of groceries, including its wide range of fresh produce, pantry staples and household essentials – directly off its shelves to customers’ doors.
Liz Hillock, head of online and mobile at Woolworths, said the group has “seen a marked growth” of its online sales in the past 12 months.
“Woolies Dash complements our already expansive online service, from our scheduled delivery service with broad regional footprint to our drive-through click and collect service,” she added.
“We are a business with quality and freshness at our core. Our capacity and planning during lockdown therefore also needed to include the manufacture of our high-tech cold chain ‘cooler boxes’ as part of the process, which adds a little more complexity.”
The service is being piloted in 18 stores in SA’s four biggest cities:
Johannesburg – Cresta Shopping Centre, Clearwater Mall, Norwood Mall, Dainfern Square, Benmore Gardens and The Glen;
Cape Town – V&A Waterfront, Canal Walk, Cavendish Square, Gardens, Cape Gate, Blue Route Mall and Tygervalley;
Durban – Musgrave Centre, La Lucia Mall; and
Pretoria – Menlyn, The Grove and Lynnwood Road.
“The trial will give our loyal customers the opportunity to try the service and give us feedback while we perfect the offering,” noted Hillock. “Our customers are keen to get access to the service sooner rather than later, so we’re bringing them on the journey with us.
“We’re offering free delivery as part of the trial as a thank-you for helping us enhance the service.”
Woolies Dash will initially be available as a separate app.
Woolworths said it has scaled its online presence extensively during Covid-19, “albeit facing some challenges with the increased demand for online food delivery”.
Over 75% of Woolworths shoppers already access its regular e-commerce channels via mobile phone, either through its mobile friendly website or via the main Woolworths app.
The group said the main Woolworths app hosts over 1.1 million customers, with high daily usage in terms of online shopping, loyalty activity and Woolworths Financial Services.