Supermarkets have been working around the clock to revive online shopping services that all but collapsed due to the overwhelming number of people requesting home deliveries.

Website malfunctions and lengthy delays on deliveries caused anxiety last Friday as almost a quarter of the population prepared for a lockdown.

Lockdown rules have since been loosened allowing vulnerable people to leave the house for essentials such as food and medicine.

Demand for online shopping continues to rise, however.

Supermarkets such as Pama and Pavi are delivering around 200 orders a day between them and are aiming to double their efficiency, said deputy CEO Malcolm Camilleri.

The supermarkets, which have an average 10-day lag on deliveries, will be reducing the variety of items available online to reduce the time it takes to put together people’s orders, Camilleri said.

“We have created a smaller physical shop with key items because our biggest issue was the length of time it was taking for our staff to go through the whole shop picking up things required.”

In addition, they will be trialling a new online platform to cope with the average of 700,000 hits the website received this month, causing it to malfunction.

Mark Borg, co-owner of Tower supermarket and the Valyou chain, said he was working with other supermarket chains, namely Park Towers, Lasco and Trolees, to integrate them under one online shop.

He expected the system to be up and running in around two weeks’ time, his team having been working tirelessly to set it up.

There is much more to the operation than meets the eye, Borg explained.

“It’s not just a matter of having more vans, or delivery personnel, there has to be a whole new system, with staff trained on how to manage it in order to make the service efficient.”

To cut down on delivery waiting time, which at the moment is around a week, Borg’s supermarkets will also be teaming up with delivery taxi companies, also offering late-night and Sunday deliveries.

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