The coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown have hurt many businesses, but one industry has seen tremendous growth – online food and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) .
Over the last month, there has been a surge in demand for online food and FMCG in South Africa.
Many ecommerce companies have rapidly upscaled their operations and even launched new platforms to serve this new market.
Pick n Pay, for example, launched its Collect Direct email ordering service which lets customers email their shopping list to their nearest participating store for collection.
Pick n Pay also launched a new delivery service in partnership with the Bottles app called Grocery Essentials.
The partnership will see the retailer deliver essential groceries to customers directly from selected stores across the country on the same day.
Other South African companies like Zulzi, Yebo Fresh, Netflorist, and OneDayOnly have also adapted to serve the growing online FMCG market in South Africa.
Huge increase in demand
OneCart CEO Lynton Peters said they initially saw a 400% to 500% increase in demand amidst the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown.
OneCart offers a concierge shopping service where customers can choose products from their favourite stores, and select their delivery date and time.
Peters said they are now seeing web traffic and volumes of over 700% from what they normally experience.
“This represents numbers and growth which we only expected to see in a year or two,” he said.
He said the influx of traffic and clients has caused operational challenges in fulfilment, given the current state of the country and because they weren’t prepared for such a sudden growth spike.
“We have since rapidly adapted and made operational changes to account for the increased demand,” he said.
OneCart has also onboarded a new customer support team and added 100 new shoppers and drivers.
Accelerating ecommerce in South Africa
Parcelninja CEO Justin Drennan said they have seen a tremendous increase in FMCG demand over the last few weeks.
Companies had to rapidly change to meet demand and are now ready to offer their services at scale in South Africa.
“The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have moved online food and FMCG sales forward by five years,” said Drennan.
This view is echoed by Peters, who said the rapid evolution of online shopping services is great news for ecommerce in South Africa.
He said ecommerce in the country has been accelerated by 3-5 years, which will bring South Africa closer to international levels.