South African retailer Woolworths is expanding a click and collect drive-through shopping service, joining others in the sector forced to innovate during the lockdown and help consumers get vital supplies.
The service gives shoppers the option to pick up their grocery shopping without leaving their cars and comes after food retailers were asked to restrict the number of people in stores during a five-week lockdown which started on March 26.
While grocery stores and pharmacies are still open it has become evident that online shopping and click and collect services have become crucial in the country's battle against the spread of the coronavirus.
Woolworths' move comes as grocery chain Pick n Pay, offers a similar drive-through service, where customers can also email their shopping lists to participating stores and collect their groceries later. David North, group executive: strategy and corporate affairs said in an email it was available at seven stores.
Online shopping is in its infancy in South Africa, accounting for 1.4% of total retail spending according to Visa, but is gaining momentum as shoppers are ordered to stay home, forcing retailers to quickly ramp up online investments.
Woolworths trailed the drive-through offer at one of its stores in the Western Cape province and will roll it out to a further 14 stores in coming days.
'Increase In Demand'
"We have seen an unprecedented increase in demand for our online offering during this crisis," Head of Online and Mobile Liz Hillock said. "Since the start of the lockdown we've increased our capacity by over 50% but demand remains sky high."
For the Easter period, the retailer had to open up almost 2,000 additional delivery slots, which were taken up in a matter of hours to deal with the spike in demand.
Pick n Pay said its online shopping service had also been in high demand over the last few weeks. It has already increased its delivery capacity by well over 2,000 slots per week.
Pick n Pay has also launched same-day delivery in partnership with the BOTTLES app after the alcohol delivery service was re-engineered to deliver groceries.