Pick n Pay hints at imminent launch of MVNO

Pick n Pay hints at imminent launch of MVNO

Pick n Pay plans to launch Pick n Pay Mobile as well as Boxercom, under its Boxer chain, the retail group said on Tuesday during its interim results presentation for the six months ended 30 August 30.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for access to more affordable mobile data, with more people having had to work and study from home due to the lockdown. Pick n Pay CEO Richard Brasher explained that supplying data is the only sensible direction that the supermarket can take in the face of Covid-19.

“In the spirit of innovation … we intend to launch Pick n Pay Mobile and Boxercom in the not-so-distant future… Data is now the crucial elixir of life. I think it is important because it has helped people stay connected during the course of this pandemic with friends and family. It is important for education and for entertainment.”

The retailer has not revealed much more on it plans yet. Several South African companies have launched mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) offerings in recent years, including First National Bank and Mr Price Group. To date, all MVNOs in South Africa have piggybacked off Cell C’s network.

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said that the retailer has also noted increased online sales during the lockdown period. He says that its online team worked almost without rest to boost its footprint and delivery slots to keep pace with demand. “Our customers responded extremely well to the measures we put in place to keep them safe.”

Surge in demand

He noted that demand for click-and-collect services also rose rapidly during the various lockdown levels. “We responded well to the surge in demand for online shopping. Pick n Pay Online is the largest online grocery offering in sub-Saharan Africa. We were also the first retailer to launch an on-demand app via partnership with Bottles, converting it from an online liquor platform into a grocery app in just four days,” Ackerman said.

The group announced on Tuesday that it had concluded an agreement to buy on-demand online grocery delivery firm Bottles to strengthen its e-commerce business. The acquisition is expected to be completed by November.

Bottles was launched in 2016 as South Africa’s first on-demand alcohol delivery app and partnered with Pick n Pay in 2018. It was the first app to promise delivery within 60 minutes. As the global pandemic gripped South Africa and led to a lockdown at the end of March, Bottles re-purposed its app, emerging with a new offer to deliver on-demand Pick n Pay grocery essentials to customers.

Since its move to groceries on 31 March, the app has achieved more than 700 000 downloads, with more than 350 000 registered users. The service offers over 7 000 products at store prices, with an average delivery time of 90 minutes.

Having launched in 2001, Pick n Pay Online now covers more than 150 stores nationwide.

Pick n Pay also launched an online clothing platform in August. The group opened 11 new clothing stores during the period and closed six underperforming units. “The group is confident of the opportunity to grow its clothing business through targeted investment in standalone clothing stores, additional space in hypermarkets and supermarkets and an expanding digital reach,” Ackerman said.

The investment in its digital platform and mobile technology has delivered double-digit growth in online sales each year for the past five years. “This provided the group with a keen competitive advantage going into the Covid-19 crisis.”

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