Woolworths v Amazon: Grocery stores expand online features
Let your fingers do the shopping.
On Tuesday Woolworths announced its intention to step up online grocery shopping. "Click and collect" has been renamed "pick up", and rolled out in more stores around Australia. The group has added pick up points to more than 670 Woolworths stores in the last month alone, and the service will soon be available in 970 locations Australia-wide.
The new Woolworths grocery pick up will be free for orders over $30, and is intended to help make grocery shopping a lot quicker, easier and more personalised.
With Amazon's arrival bringing more competition, incumbents like Woolworths and Coles are moving quickly to develop online shopping features.
Recent events in particular might have highlighted the swift pace of change.
- Firstly, analysts have predicted that Amazon will be opening up its Australian marketplace as soon as the end of November.
- Secondly, Amazon is in talks with a lot of food suppliers around Australia. In August it paid $17 billion for Whole Foods (an upscale US grocery giant), and immediately set to slashing prices, seeing a subsequent 25% increase in store foot traffic and plenty more online sales.
Amazon has previously confirmed that its own grocery label will be available in Australia and according to a report by UBS it's been in talks with almost 20% of Australian food and grocery suppliers.
"We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to make shopping easier for our customers," said Lisa Roth, Woolworths head of online operations. "From remote regional towns with only one Woolworths supermarket to major metro areas where customers have multiple Pick Up location choices, customers will be able to get more time back in their day as we do their shopping for them."
The pick up service has the potential to make things a lot quicker for Woolworths customers.
- Do your grocery shopping online
- Woolworths' "personal shopper" team picks and packs your order in-store
- You can pick up it whenever's convenient.
If you have the Woolworths app it can even alert the store when you're approaching so it can prep your order, shaving even more time off the shopping trip.
"What this means is that customers, for example, can do their grocery shopping online on their way to work and it will be ready to be picked up by the time they are on their way home." Roth said.
Groceries ordered before 11am are ready for pick-up after 4pm and groceries ordered before 11pm can be picked up after 11am the next day.
"What we really want to do is provide our customer with a multitude of options in how they shop with us," said Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci previously, "whether it's in-store, pick-up at store, pick-up at the front of store, pick-up via drive-through or home delivery – at a designated time or express within one hour,"
The availability of in store pickups as well as delivery, in combination with Woolworths' widely used loyalty rewards program, leverages two key strengths that Amazon doesn't yet have in Australia; a loyal existing customer base, and a lot of brick and mortar stores. With continued development in these strengths, Woolworths might be well positioned to compete with Amazon's arrival.