Checkers crushed Woolworths with Sixty60 – but the online war has only started

Checkers Sixty60 is a runaway success. Launched in select locations in Sandton, Johannesburg, and Cape Town in November 2019, it is now available in 195 supermarket and liquor stores nationwide.

The main value proposition – order groceries in 60 seconds and have it delivered in 60 minutes for R35 – made it South Africa’s fastest and cheapest on demand grocery service.

The lockdown created a big shift to online shopping in South Africa which saw Sixty60 employing 800 additional staff to meet increased demand.

Neil Schreuder, chief of strategy and innovation at Shoprite, said Sixty60 order volumes have skyrocketed since the lockdown started.

“Customers love shopping from their couch and tracking the items in real time as they are picked in-store and delivered,” he said.

In less than 18 months, Checkers Sixty60 has become the top grocery shopping app in South Africa with more than 1 million downloads.

Although Checkers has not disclosed Sixty60 order numbers, industry speculation suggests it is currently processing around 10,000 orders per day.

This represents incredible growth since its launch eighteen months ago.

The success of Sixty60 saw it winning numerous awards, including the BCX Digital Innovation Awards, MTN Business App of the Year Award, and various marketing accolades.

Checkers Sixty60

Speaking to The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield, World Wide Worx Bryan Turner said the success of Checkers’ Sixty60 is based on its seamless shopping experience.

He said it all comes down to friction. The less friction an online shopping service has, the more successful it is.

People who shop in person at a brick-and-mortar store are unlikely to abandon their shopping trolley.

It is, however, quite easy to leave an online shopping website. “If there are too many clicks, taps, or scrolls, you can abandon your cart without any consequences,” he said.

He said Checkers has done an exceptional job with its Sixty60 app to allow shoppers to buy products with as few taps and scrolls as possible.

Removing friction is ultimately what made Checkers Sixty60 so successful, said Turner.

This did not happen by accident. Checkers invested heavily in their user experience and employed global experts to help them to improve their customer experience.

The company is also not trying to stock as many products as possible. Instead, it is only offering groceries which it knows are available and can be delivered quickly.

The combination of an easy ordering process, quick delivery time, and a predictable experience have made Checkers Sixty60 the preferred online grocery service for thousands of South Africans.

This has also helped Checkers to gain market share in the premium food retail segment which has traditionally been dominated by Woolworths.

The Sixty60 service is a perfect companion to Checkers’ FreshX stores and state-of-the-art flagship supermarkets to take the fight to Woolworths.

Woollies Dash

Although Woolworths also has a high-quality online shopping experience, it falls short of the Checkers’ Sixty60 offering in terms of convenience.

One of Woolworths Food’s biggest selling points is convenience. This is why it offers prepared food, cut fruit, and meals for busy families.

Playing second fiddle to Checkers, when it comes to online shopping convenience, is bound to leave Woolworths unhappy and possibly even mildly concerned.

The retailer is now fighting back through its same-day delivery service – Woollies Dash.

Launched in December 2020, Woolies Dash currently operates in 18 stores and is the first retailer in South Africa to offer a full cold chain to customers’ doors.

Woolworths spokesperson Silindile Gumede said their stringent cold chain standards, packaged within a lightweight carrier, is made possible through innovative technology.

“This is an important part of our offering, as freshness is key to our quality,” Gumede said.

Woolworths sees Woolies Dash as a large opportunity and has been improving the service in preparation for a larger rollout.

PnP Bottles

Pick n Pay, which entered online shopping in 2001 with its first online shop, is also investing heavily in its online channels.

The retailer has partnered with the on-demand grocery service Bottles since 2018 for liquor delivery. It pivoted into groceries in March 2020.

Pick n Pay acquired Bottles at the end of 2020. At the time of the deal, the Bottles app had reached 700,000 downloads and 350,000 registered users.

Pick n Pay CEO, Richard Brasher said the partnership with Bottles enabled them to introduce an on-demand grocery delivery service less than a week after the start of the lockdown.

“Our sales growth has more than doubled, and we have seen a 200% increase in active customers,” he said.

He added that they have two large online depots, and a home-delivery and click-and-collect network comprising of over 150 stores to support their online ambitions.

Brasher said their aim is to have a business which customers can access anytime and from any place.

Now read: I bought this big bag of vegetables for under R80 from a small online store

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Checkers crushed Woolworths with Sixty60 – but the online war has only started