WATCH | How Bottles and Sixty60 apps found strength in disruptive innovation

The winners of this year's BCX Digital Innovation Awards have made the most of a challenging year in business

20 November 2020 - 09:12 By Staff Writer
In 2020, your groceries come to you – in less than an hour.
In 2020, your groceries come to you – in less than an hour.
Image: 123RF/frannyanne

Earlier this month, BCX, the information and communications technology company, announced the winners of the BCX Digital Innovation Awards 2020 at the prestigious,live-streamed Sunday Times Top 100 Companies Awards, of which it is a sponsor. 

It had established the awards a year ago to recognise digital innovation excellence in SA, focusing on corporates and small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

This year, 28 shortlisted candidates pitched their work to five judges in the hopes of achieving the title of Digital Innovation Award champion in their respective categories.

The victor in the corporate category of the BCX Digital Innovation Awards was Checkers' Sixty60 app, which lets customers shop quickly, in less than a minute, and have their groceries delivered within an hour. 

Andy Ridge, e-commerce manager at the Shoprite group, spoke to Gary Alfonso about the idea behind the Sixty60 app and how Covid-19 worked in the retailer's favour:

“We weren't trying to implement an online shopping platform for Checkers,” said Ridge, as such platforms had become synonymous with hard-to-navigate websites and long delivery lead times. “We wanted to totally disrupt the online grocery market in SA.”

On the effect of Covid-19, he says Checkers has been lucky, as the pandemic and ensuring lockdown gave a shot in the arm to online deliveries, especially of groceries. “As a result, our order volumes have grown terrifically.”

The grocer also created a “couple of thousand” jobs along the way, Ridge said.

In the SME category, the winner was the Bottles app, a start-up business providing on-demand alcohol delivery — also in less than 60 minutes — that partnered with grocery chain Pick n Pay in mid-2018.

Alfonso also spoke to Vincent Viviers, co-CEO and co-founder of the app, about what it had taken to win the award:

The partnership helped Bottles scale its app to do deliveries for more than 50 Pick n Pay Liquor stores nationwide. Then, during the Covid-19 lockdown and the ban on the sale of alcohol, the company started to deliver grocery and essential goods — a change implemented in just four days.

Bottles now delivers groceries for more than 90 Pick n Pay stores in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

“Our story has been a story of a business doing well in a difficult time and the speed at which we were able to pivot our business to save it,” Viviers said.

“Our team has worked flat out for seven, eight months now during a very difficult and uncertain time for everyone,” he added. “So the recognition for them and for the hard work is really nice.”

Jonas Bogoshi, CEO of BCX, said 2020 was a “year of disruption that forced businesses and industries to innovate and think outside the proverbial box”. 

He added: “Businesses had to reinvent and reimagine their services and products within very challenging socioeconomic conditions to unlock greater customer value.”

Read the full list of BCX Digital Innovation Awards winners here.

This article was sponsored by BCX.