Woolworths rolls out national ‘pick up’ service

Keysborough South Pick UpWoolworths has laid down the gauntlet to the approaching Amazon, yesterday launching a national ‘pick up’ collection service across 970 locations in Australia.

The supermarket giant said its renamed ‘click & collect’ service makes it the first and only supermarket to provide such a service nationally, after quietly adding collection points to over 670 stores in the last month alone. The service is backed up by over 4,500 personal shoppers picking and packing customer groceries in stores.

“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to make shopping easier for our customers,” said Woolworths head of online operations, Lisia Roth.

“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 service is currently restricted to a set number of orders each day. “As more and more customers start using the service we will monitor the performance, available collection windows and capacity, and customer feedback to ensure pick up is the best possible experience for every user,” said Roth.

In Australia 42 per cent of retailers are now offering click and collect, and perhaps in response to the impending threat from Amazon’s entry, this number is up from 24 per cent in 2015. To supplement their pick up in store service, 38 per cent of retailers also allow customers to return their online purchases in-store.

Gary Mortimer, associate professor, Queensland University of Technology and Louise Grimmer, lecturer in marketing, University of Tasmania, recently wrote that customers are embracing buying online and picking up in store because it offers them immediate gratification but with cost savings on delivery. Click and collect provides an immediacy that traditional home delivery usually can’t match, particularly in Australia where delivery times have traditionally been slow relative to international standards. “Bricks and mortar” retailers see click and collect as a way to differentiate and defend themselves from online players. In the US, Walmart announced last month it would offer discounts on products shoppers ordered online, but picked up in stores as a tactic to combat Amazon.

Woolies said consumers will be able to monitor orders through the supermarket giant’s app, which will notify store teams when customers are approaching the store. Pick up options include drive up, drive through, remote lockers and specific parking bays where groceries are delivered to the car – all at select locations.

“Not only do customers want ultra-convenience and personalisation, they also want the experience to be painless and seamless,” said Roth.

Last month, Woolworths unveiled a $1.53 billion full-year profit and lifted its crucial comparable food sales by 3.6 per cent per cent, suggesting heavy grocery discounting is pulling shoppers back to the supermarket giant.

Woolies has bounced back from last year’s writedown-heavy $1.23 billion loss as comparable supermarket food sales rose 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, outstripping fierce rival Coles for a third consecutive quarter.

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