In November of last year Checkers launched Sixty60, an app that promised to get groceries delivered to you in 60 minutes.

Back then the app was only available in select areas of the Western Cape and Gauteng but recently a Checkers on the West Rand, near to my house launched, Sixty60 in the area.

Truth be told I’ve been using the app for nearly two months now and the experience has been so great I can’t go a minute without bringing it up in conversation.

But what makes the app so great? Well, I hate to show my hand too early on but it’s less the app and more the overall experience.

Information makes shopping online enjoyable

One of my biggest issues with Takealot and many other ecommerce services in South Africa is a lack of transparency.

No, I’m not talking about price fixing but rather delivery times.

Takealot is by far the worst with deliveries taking place sometime between 08:00 and 17:00 on a weekday. Thanks, Takealot, I’ll block off my whole day for you then shall I?

What would be great would be for you to be able to see where your order is, and even how far along the delivery driver is.

Sixty60 offers that but it’s a bit more than simply live tracking a driver.

The app lets you know once each portion of the order is complete. This gives you the opportunity to replace items which may not be in stock or cancel the order altogether.

Now, while Checkers does say that orders are delivered in an hour this differs depending on the day, time of order and what you are ordering.

But where Checkers gets it right is in informing you should anything change.

Last week an order was scheduled for 11:00 but a problem meant that my order would only be delivered at 12:00.

While delays are normal what I really value is this change being communicated to me via the app in a timely manner. The onus of finding out what was happening was not put on me and true to its word at 12:00 there was a Sixty60 delivery driver at my gate.

As regards pricing, there is a flat R35 delivery fee attached to all orders and pricing of items on the app mirrors pricing in-store.

Packaging and delivery

Every Sixty60 order is delivered in large brown paper bags secured with a sticker.

The bags are rather large and very cumbersome and we’re still not sure what we’re meant to be doing with them. The good news is that they are made from recycled paper so you can recycle them.

The one “problem” we are starting to notice in our household is a distinct lack of plastic bags. While this is good news for the environment we’re increasingly struggling to find ways to store things.

Joking aside, we do quite like the fact that Checkers is using Sixty60 to be a bit more environmentally friendly.

As for delivery, so far it has been 100 percent contactless.

In-app tracking makes it so much easier to prepare for a delivery. As I see the driver entering our road I sanitise my hands, don a mask and wait for the driver at the gate.

The driver confirms that they are at the correct address and that we are indeed waiting for a delivery at which point the driver will scan QR codes on the bags. These QR codes are tied to your delivery and once the driver confirms a few details you are informed that your delivery is complete.

The process as of time of writing is completely contactless and drivers place deliveries on the ground rather than handing it to you.

But what if there is a problem?

Over the last two months I have had one issue with the Sixty60 app and while it wasn’t a big issue, how it was handled was cause for concern.

On one particular day I had placed an order with Checkers confirming delivery for one hour from the time the order was placed.

One hour went by. No delivery.

Two hours went by. No delivery.

At this stage I was concerned as the app wasn’t responding and that my order had been delivered to the wrong address.

I emailed Checkers support in a frenzy hoping they would respond promptly.

Three hours after placing the order it arrived.

The issue is that it took 24 hours for Checkers support to respond to me. There was no way for me to get in touch with anybody at the store via the app or get an update from within the app that is where we foresee problems popping up.

Of course we do note that lockdown has brought with it a number of problems that wouldn’t usually pop-up, especially as relates to solving problems customers might encounter.

We do feel that Checkers needs to add a way to contact the store directly from within the app should there be an issue.

Quality of life suggestions

There are one or two things we’d like to see added to the Sixty60 app.

One of those sections is a hot food/ fresh baked section. While there are a few offerings here we’d really love to be able to order a cooked chicken or pre-made salad. Perhaps after lockdown.

Our second suggestion is a bit more complex and may be impossible but we’d really like it if we were able to edit our order to add items before the shop is complete.

Finally, the option to choose a replacement on a customer’s behalf should be removed entirely. While we appreciate that for the most part you can order and then leave your phone alone we’ve had one or two oddities with the “choose a replacement on my behalf” option. This includes getting 500ml of milk when our original item was one litre and getting white bread instead of brown.

All in all however, the Sixty60 experience is by far the best ecommerce experience we’ve had in South Africa and other platforms really could stand to learn a lot from Checkers.

Payment is easy, using the app is a breeze and the whole process is so simple, I may never leave my house again.

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.