We recently bought a big bag of vegetables for R80 from a small online retailer called WeHub which supports local farmers, artisans, and small businesses. The price and service levels rivalled top players like Checkers.
South Africa’s ecommerce industry has experienced strong growth since the lockdown hit with most traditional retailers joining the online shopping revolution.
One of the areas which showed particularly strong growth is food sales with Checkers, Pick n Pay, and Woolworths investing heavily in their online shopping platforms.
These big players helped to introduce South Africans to buying food online, which opened the door for smaller players to follow suit.
One of these smaller stores is WeHub – formerly called OnsHub – which makes it easy and convenient for people to support local farmers, artisans, and small businesses.
“In essence, WeHub Online gives both the community and the humble small producer a choice,” the company explains.
“No more bureaucracy. No more red tape. Just wider access to fresh, healthy food and non-food products from local small businesses.”
One customer told us she used the site as it allowed her to buy food which was sourced from farmers with ethically sound approaches to animal care and food production.
Its combo deals were also cheaper than buying individual food products, she said.
We decided to test the service to see how it worked, including how long delivery would take and how its prices compared to well-known retailers.
WeHub’s name stems from its network of collection hubs in Gauteng – similar to Takealot’s pickup points – where shoppers can pick up their orders.
Alternatively, deliveries can be made directly to the shopper’s home address or office in Gauteng.
Wehub.co.za offers a simple, fuss-free interface with well-defined categories and a search functionality which made it easy to find items.
The products available under the “Shop” tab included individual or combo packs of fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, general groceries, ready-to-eat meals, and beverages.
There are also personal care, cleaning, hardware, garden, and DIY categories.
The site further provides a list of 93 vendors from which products are sourced.
The website provides a section with a map of the hub locations where items can be picked up, shown in the image below.
Under the “Shop” tab we chose a 7 colour vegetable combo for R79.90 and placed our order on Monday 19 April 2021 at around 9:00 AM.
The contents of our package included:
- Beetroot x 1kg
- Butternut x 2kg
- Carrots x 1kg
- Cut Cabbage head x 1
- Onions x 1kg
- Potatoes x 2kg
- Sweet potatoes x 2kg
We added it to our cart and headed for checkout, just like on a regular online shop.
Before we could complete the purchase, we had to create an account, which required providing an email address, choosing a password, and submitting a physical address.
We could then head to check out, where we were provided with the option to pick up our order or schedule a delivery in a particular time slot.
In our immediate vicinity we had six pickup hubs to choose from. We opted for delivery to see how long it would take for the vegetables to arrive at out doorstep.
Most of the delivery slots for the week were already filled, with the exception of Friday 23 April between 16:00 and 18:00.
We had the option to pay via EFT or card with PayFast or PayGate, or to scan a QR code and pay with Zapper – the option which we preferred.
The total price for our order with delivery included was R114.90.
We immediately received an email confirming our order price and contents, delivery address, and delivery time slot. We were not provided with any further tracking information, however.
On the day of the delivery we received a WhatsApp from the delivery lady who informed us the package would arrive a bit earlier than anticipated.
At 14:30, she dropped of the massive bag of vegetables in the image below. We found all the items to be in good order.
We were surprised by bag’s size and weight. We even wondered whether we possibly received the wrong delivery.
Checking the contents revealed we had indeed received the right assortment of items.
We decided to compare the combo’s price of R79.90 to how much buying the same vegetables from Checkers would cost.
What we discovered is that it would cost R147.92 when bought from Checkers online, around 85% more expensive than WeHub.
The same percentage difference would apply to the final prices with delivery, as the fees for both stores were the same.
The table below shows a comparison of WeHub and Checkers’ prices.
|WeHub vs Checkers online prices|
|Item||Weight||WeHub price||Checkers price|
|Wrapped cut cabbage||n/a||R12.99|
|Total for food||R79.90||R147.92|
|Total with delivery||R114.90||R182.92|
While WeHub’s vegetable prices were cheaper than Checkers, some other products were more expensive.
Meat prices, for example, tended to be between 10% and 20% cheaper at Checkers.
In addition, Checkers’ Sixty60 service has the advantage of same-day delivery. Users can also ask for delivery within an hour.
If you are, however, the type of person who can plan their meal preparations ahead of time, you could save hundreds of rand per month by using WeHub rather than a conventional grocery outlet for specific foods.
This is not the only point of the site – its assortment of farm-fresh products, which you cannot buy from a large grocer, makes its offering unique.
Below are photos of the vegetables we received from WeHub as part of the R79.90 combo.