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Covid-19 fears drive spike in orders at alcohol, grocery delivery startups in SA

SA ecommerce startups that retail and deliver items such as groceries and alcohol, have seen online orders hit the roof, following the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Orders for items such as food and alcohol, as well as requests for food deliveries all saw a significant increase last week over the previous week, following the imposition of a state of national disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 15 March.

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Silvertree Holdings managing director Paul Cook said last week that the investment company had seen a spike in orders at its mostly ecommerce portfolio companies (see this story).

This, as Lynton Peters, the CEO of SA grocery delivery startup OneCart, told Ventureburn last Friday (20 March) that order volumes at the startup were up “300%” last week over the previous week, with the onset of the coronavirus threat.

SA grocery delivery startup OneCart has seen order volumes increase by 300% since the onset of the coronavirus

The Cape Town based startup works with a number of grocery retailers in South Africa to shop for and deliver groceries for customers.

The company regularly runs specials and Peters said his team had been in contact with specific brands to see how it can connect them to consumers to deliver essentials that are usually out of stock during this period.

“We hope that these specials can be released on the platform as soon as a week, and our teams are working hard on this. It is also our promise that these products will be delivered to the consumer at the recommended retail price point — and not higher, similar to what we have seen with other online platforms,” he said.

The company has issued a detailed email to all consumers on the measures it has put in place relating to the handling of the virus.

He said all staff had been issued with disinfectant sprays that complement the soap and alcohol wipes they use as standard on a day-to-day basis.

“We’ll also be distributing gloves and masks as soon as we receive them, due to the high demand, lead times are quite long,” he said.

Commenting on a Ventureburn’s article in September last year that the startup was raising a Series-A investment round, Peters said:   “We have closed our funding round but would prefer to discuss this at a separate time if that’s okay”.

‘Orders are exploding’

Orders are also up significantly at Daily Dish, a meal kit delivery startup based in Cape Town.

Daily Dish deliver fresh ingredients (like vegetables, meat, spice etc) together with recipes so families can cook a balanced meal quickly without any processed ingredients.

TCapital founder Geir Tellefsen, whose company acquired Daily Dish last year, said the percentage of returning customers to the platform was up 50%, while the number of new customers had increased 150% last week over the week before.

“Orders are exploding on our online food businesses with people not wanting to go to the supermarket,” said Tellefsen in a LinkedIn message, adding that the phone “doesn’t stop ringing”.

Online liquor sales up 65%

In addition, Quench Delivery founder Liam McCreedy told Ventureburn that the startup last week saw a 40% increase in first-time users over the previous a week and a 65% increase in sales.

The highest seller last week was wine, he said, adding that the startup is fully compliant with government’s new rulings on liquor trading hours.

“We have been aggressively approached by brand house/ suppliers who are looking to online solutions during this time. They are looking to hone in on online as a priority channel for sales it seems. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to mention names,” he said.

The Stellenbosch based startup earlier this month announced big plans to vamp up, after earlier securing R20-million from investors who include the Rupert family (see this story).

While the startup is offering free delivery for all Quench orders, McCreedy said the startup has also teamed up with a distillery to place 70% spirit alcohol 500ml and 1-litre units for people to purchase on the app for use as a desterilising solution. The startup aims to have this initiative up and running this week.

“Additionally, we have been approached by a retailer in Klerksdorp, who has asked if we can launch Quench in that region to accommodate social distancing as it is effecting their foot traffic.

“So, we will be doing a ‘pop up’ and start delivering in Klerksdorp to all those who wish to stay out of stores and public. We are extremely lucky to be so dynamic flexible as it allows us to make implement these kinds of things over night,” he said.

‘Transactions up 35%-40%’

Meanwhile Thomas Pays, CEO of online payment platform Ozow, has seen an uptake in about 35% to 40% more transactions a day than it was seeing a few of weeks ago.

Pays said in an ITWeb article on Friday (20 March) that the startup has been inundated by requests from new merchants to use its system. He said the biggest demand was from pharmacy groups and retailers.

Ozow, an online automated electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment platform, services various retailers, including iStore, Builders Warehouse, CTM, Woolworths, Clicks, Waltons, Superbalist, Takealot and Flight Centre.

Read more: SA’s Recomed reports record number of medical bookings following Covid-19 onset
Read more: Silvertree racing to meet demand as online orders at startups spike amid coronavirus
Read more: Department to set up fund to help SA small businesses affected by coronavirus
Read more: SA venture capitalists prepare for tough times ahead with onset of coronavirus
Read more: SA tech startups put in place measures to tackle coronavirus

Featured image: OneCart via Facebook

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