SOUTH AFRICA – As South Africa eased into Level 3 lock-down and ban of alcohol sales was lifted, liquor stores witnessed a surge in numbers of customers in long queues which posed a challenge on observation of physical distancing stipulated to aid in combating the spread of the corona-virus.

To this regard, alcohol producers have launched online ordering systems as part of the safety measures.

Heineken SA, Diageo and Pernod Ricard in partnership with Touchsides have launched the Hola Club Click & Collect platform that will facilitate online transactions between tavern owners and consumers. 

According to reports by Business Live, the platform enables consumers to pre-order their drink to collect at a chosen time, reducing waiting times and eliminate queues.

Touchside said this platform encourages and enables licensed tavern owners to operate and manage their staff and businesses more effectively and safely, and to comply with regulations such as facilitating social distancing, and limiting the number of consumers on premise at any one time.

“Our current reality requires innovations which demonstrate that businesses prioritise the safety of their staff, consumers and community where they operate. Working with industry partners and stakeholders, we are confident this platform will assist in creating safe spaces for trade during this pandemic,” says Mongi Tshabalala from Touchsides.

The South African Breweries (SAB) has also launched its USSD cellphone based ordering platform called Firsti.

Firsti also allows consumers to purchase their alcohol from the safety and comfort of their premise.

“As an industry leader, we pride ourselves in developing innovative ways to meet our consumer needs. With Firsti we are able to ensure that our customers are safe, and can avoid unnecessary crowds,” said Zoleka Lisa, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at SAB. 

As a fully USSD solution, Firsti allows users without smartphones or internet connection to use the service unlike most platforms that require stable internet to undertake the transaction, which excluded the majority of the population, reports IoL.

“By launching Firsti, we want to reaffirm our commitment to assisting Government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and prioritise the safety of our customers and retailer partners.”

“We encourage customers and retailers alike to use this solution for buying and selling alcohol, in order to avoid crowds and practice social distancing,” concluded Lisa.

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