The 500% Leap From Store to Door
Forbes Africa|October - November 2020
Covid-19 has left many businesses in disarray. But not OneCart, South Africa’s ondemand grocery delivery service that rewarded its founders Lynton Peters and Ariel Navarro with record growth.
CHANEL RETIEF

WHAT WAS IN THAT FIRST order when we started, do you remember, Ari?” Lynton Peters, the CEO of OneCart, asks his cofounder and COO, Ariel Navarro.

“Probably water and bananas,” Navarro laughs.

“What are people buying now?” Peters asks.

“Everything!” Navarro laughs again.

When South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, declared the National State of Disaster on March 15 and followed it with a strict Level 5 lockdown on March 27, this prohibited large public gatherings, local and international travel, and schools and universities from continuing in-person classes.

The ides of March brought with it fear, frenzy and public panic as South Africans flocked to their local supermarkets to stock up on essentials such as toilet paper, soap, cleaning agents, non-perishables, disinfectants and sanitizers.

This is when OneCart went from serving about 150-250 shoppers a day to almost 10 times that number today.

“I think what worked in our favor was that consumers were more willing to or wanted to stay at home. So what we saw was obviously a greater adoption of our product in terms of growth. What we saw was, in essence, about 500% growth during Covid, so it was quite significant,” says Peters.

The on-demand grocery delivery platform allows consumers to shop from multiple stores in a “single cart”, hence OneCart. So instead of having to walk across the entire shopping center where perhaps food retailer Woolworths could be located at one end and Pick n’ Pay on the other, OneCart gives you a “virtual mall” experience on your single device. Groceries are then delivered to consumers within two hours or at a time preferred by them.

“I think the inspiration behind building OneCart and founding OneCart was just to create a way for consumers to shop online the way they would usually shop offline when they’re at a mall,” Peters explains.

The unprecedented outbreak of the coronavirus has brought on-demand grocery service platforms like OneCart to the forefront, according to an international report by Future Market Insights (FMI) released in June. More new consumers are converting to online shopping for buying provisions rather than risk standing in a supermarket queue. This is the reason OneCart has seen a massive surge on its platform in the past few months.

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