Stocktake: Spotlight on Shoprite

Shoprite’s sustainability initiatives and Checkers’ most-admired brand status are our focus this week.

Shoprite’s sustainability initiatives and Checkers’ most-admired brand status are our focus this week.

Shoprite expands solar PV project

The Shoprite Group now generates a substantial amount of power using solar panels and its biggest solar PV project, at the Basson distribution centre, covers the surface area of an entire soccer field. Several other initiatives, like solar panels on delivery trucks; and the widespread use of energy efficient LED lamps, are further reducing the company’s impact on the environment. The Shoprite Group now generates enough electricity to power over 1,100 households – 12 300 MWh of electricity – a year from solar energy, following the installation of rooftop PV (photovoltaic) panels at 19 sites in South Africa and Namibia. The Group has also fitted 649 solar panels to the roofs of its refrigerated trucks, which generate 760 MWh annually, creating enough power to run 1,040 refrigerators for a full year. These allow drivers to switch off truck ignitions at delivery locations, reducing noise and exhaust pollution, while keeping the cold chain intact.

There are now 18 stores throughout South Africa and Namibia in the Group that harness the power of the sun for their operations. And the Group’s largest installation, at its Basson distribution centre in Brackenfell, is a remarkable move to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. There are now enough solar panels at this distribution centre to cover an entire soccer field, and the 7,706 m2 of panels have a generating capacity of 1MW. “Apart from these solar panel installations, we have also signed an agreement which will see the Group procure 434 000 MWh of renewable energy per year for the next seven years. We are the first retailer to close such a deal, which is arguably the first of its kind in Africa,” says Sanjeev Raghubir, sustainability manager for the Shoprite Group. In a bid to find innovative ways to reduce electricity usage, the Group has also replaced  flourescent lamps with energy-efficient LED lamps. The process cost R98.3 million, and in the four years since its inception has saved 83.8 million kWh of energy.

Zapper eliminates need for QR codes

A challenge for larger retailers with QR payments at the POS has been the expense of new pin entry devices with complex interfaces or costly screens to present the shopper with a dynamically generated QR code in real-time. But by fitting each till with its own unique static QR code, so cashiers can present shoppers with their bill amount when they scan the code at that particular till, Zapper has found a quick, paperless and inexpensive solution. Kicking off with Dis-Chem in January 2019, the system has expanded to 185 stores so far and is showing a steady user growth with around 40,000 customers making use of Zapper when they checkout.

QR codes have been a huge hit with smaller traders, especially in the hospitality industry, weekend markets and owner-run businesses. Zapper’s continued success at Dis-Chem, however, is proving that the technology is possible at even the largest of retailers – without the expense of new pin entry devices (PEDs) with complex interfaces or costly customer facing screens.

By keeping it simple for both customer and cashier, Zapper came up with a now patented innovation that has all the data benefits of a dynamic QR code, and all the visual call-to-action benefits of a static QR code, without all the fuss and at a 97% cost saving of the aforementioned options. Explaining the mechanics, Brett White, CEO of Zapper, says: “Each till is fitted with a unique static QR code. When a customer asks to pay by Zapper, the cashier generates the total on the till, the invoice is instantly uploaded to the Zapper hosted service and, when the customer scans the code at that particular till point with a Zapper-enabled app, the app will automatically fetch the invoice and display the appropriate bill amount, debiting the customer’s linked card when they tap pay and the till receiving confirmation of payment. All of this with no need for any manual input by the shopper. To the customer, it’s like magic.”

#AgencyLeaders: Most-Admired Brand in South AfricaCheckers

For the first time, Checkers has been voted the most-admired brand in South Africa in the MarkLives  #AgencyLeaders Most-Admired poll for 2020. FMCG retailer Checkers has successfully positioned itself as both offering value and appealing to the mid-to-upper segment of the consumer market. “There is somewhat of a dichotomy between repositioning the Checkers brand to appeal to the more affluent consumer while protecting our strong value-for-money heritage,” noted a Checkers spokesperson on behalf of its marketing department. “Our focus, and key to the brand’s success, is to find the happy balance between the two: we aim to democratise a better lifestyle, convenience food and healthier options by making premium fresh food more accessible to more people.”

Incredibly, it’s added 6m customers to its rewards programme, Checkers Xtra Savings, since it launched in October 2019. The programme is intentionally designed with simplicity and transparency in mind — there are no points, no tiers and no levels, with a focus on instant cash savings on specific items, with deals available to view via WhatsApp, USSD, the Checkers app, website, on leaflets and in store. The team says Xtra Savings is the fastest-growing programme of its kind in SA, and that it’s put more than R1 billion back in consumers’ pockets through savings and discounts. In November 2019, it also launched the first 60-minute grocery delivery service from a SA supermarket chain through its Checkers Sixty60 digital shopping app, which it scaled significantly in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown.

With restaurants closed or limiting service, the group also positioned the brand as a destination for items such as convenience meals, quality fresh produce and a comprehensive butchery offering. Innovations last year included a medicine delivery service, in partnership with Mr D Food, delivering medicine to its MediRite pharmacy customers’ homes. Pet insurance was added to its growing financial services bouquet; and it partnered with Starbucks at the new Checkers FreshX supermarkets at Rosebank Mall, Johannesburg, and Stellenbosch, Western Cape. In the year ahead, expect ongoing innovations centred on Xtra Savings and more state-of-the-art supermarkets.

*Annually since 2012, MarkLives has been polling the leaders of South Africa’s top adland-related agencies. In early November 2020, MarkLives invited a panel of 144 handpicked agency execs — in creative and management; and ranging over a wide spectrum from small- and medium-sized to network agencies — to nominate their most-admired companies and company leaders of various types of agencies.

This week in numbers:


Price will remain the number one reason for shoppers to shop where they do, while loyalty rewards come a close second, according to 2Engage. The modern South African consumer is more conscious than ever of factors such as price and convenience. In the survey mentioned above, 42.5% of respondents said that “store prices” are the reason why they shop at a specific store, with 30.14% of respondents saying that rewards benefits were their primary motivator. 2Engage predicts that this will continue and says that the gap between these reasons and others, like location, is most likely to widen as the year progresses.

QUOTE of the week:

“Strategic partnerships in the e/retail space are still somewhat under-utilised in the local market, but something we’re certain to see more of as e/retailers scramble to elevate their offering to outsmart their competitors. Strategic partnerships have the potential to bring e/retailers new customers, maintain customer interest and expand customer loyalty and increase revenue. If done smartly, it can be achieved without having to employ extensive financial or staff resources,” said Jonathan Hurvitz, Teljoy Group CEO, on Retailing Africa this week.


*Stocktake is a weekly roundup of current FMCG retailing and brand news, curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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