South Africans are receiving a push towards buying their essential goods online. The Covid-19 pandemic has left people reluctant to leave their homes and they are therefore receptive to receiving groceries, medicines and other essential goods through online purchases.
The Covid-19 emergency precautions are likely to have a lasting effect on consumers’ buying habits. If staying at home nudges consumers towards the convenience of home delivery, they are likely to keep this habit after the need for self-isolation has passed.
The lock-down announced by President Ramaphosa permits the delivery of goods such as food, medicines, cleaning goods, toiletries, hygiene products and other essential goods. In many cases the providers of these goods do not have the required staffing, vehicles or software to get these products to consumers’ homes.
Consumers – especially those who are immune compromised – rely on these deliveries to stay at home. Additionally, smaller retailers do not have the financial ability to invest heavily into delivery infrastructure, which offers low (or negative) profit margins.
Picup is a last-mile delivery service providing logistics software that is backed up by a fleet of drivers. During the lock-down it continues to deliver essential goods for retailers and e-commerce clients. The company is seeing an increase in the need for delivering food, pharmaceuticals and baby-care products.
On-demand delivery now possible through a reliable crowdsourced network, Picup can assist people with staying at home. Each driver delivers to many households on each trip, this limits the number people venturing out. The Picup deliveries are contactless and staff are equipped with masks, sanitiser and guidelines for best behavioural practices.
With many businesses being new to home delivery, we can assist with rapid roll-outs. As an example, we engaged with a chain of pharmacies experiencing backlogs in getting medicines to consumers. Within three business days from the initial contact, Picup had provided them with a last mile fulfilment solution, including drivers and customised software at each pharmacy in the group.
The self-isolating protective measures are likely to change consumer behaviour towards using e-commerce and home delivery. When the Covid-19 threat has passed, we expect that significant numbers will keep using their online channels to buy essentials. This will bring South Africa’s inevitable shift to e-commerce forward by several years.