S.Africa's Checkers supermarket promises to deliver groceries in an hour

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 25 (Reuters) - South African supermarket chain Checkers, owned by Shoprite Holdings, is looking to grab a larger share of the growing online shopping market by pioneering a new one-hour grocery delivery service named Sixty60.

It is South Africa’s first 60-minute mobile app grocery delivery service from a supermarket chain, Checkers says, as it looks to respond to customers’ demands for convenience.

“In our time-pressed society, providing consumers with a swift, on-demand grocery delivery service is like giving them back time: today’s most precious commodity,” Neil Schreuder, Chief of Innovation and Strategy at Shoprite Checkers said in a statement on Monday.

The mobile app delivers groceries and drinks at the touch of a button where customers order in 60 seconds and have them delivered in as little as 60 minutes, Schreuder added.

Sixty60 is currently available to the public in selected Checkers stores in the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces.

Checkers has been upgrading its stores and introducing premium, healthy brands and high-end convenience foods in order to compete in the more upmarket, higher-margin niche dominated by rival Woolworths.

Online retailing in South Africa is still in its infancy by global standards, according to Euromonitor International, however, over the recent years brick-and-mortar retailers have been increasingly pumping money into technology and logistics to adapt to the changing landscape of retail.

According to a report by World Wide Worx local online retail is due to pass the 14 billion rand ($952 million) mark this year, to reach 1.4% of South Africa’s total retail sales.

The online shopping sector in South Africa is dominated by apparel, homeware, electronics and appliances and ticket retailing.

Online shopping for groceries is still in its early stages in the country, with only Woolworths and grocery retailer Pick n Pay offering the service. ($1 = 14.7075 rand)

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; editing by David Evans