Under an hour: Coles expands pick-up options as customers push for more speed

Supermarket giant Coles has upped the ante on grocery collection, promising shoppers they’ll be able to pick up click and collect orders within one hour at stores across the country.

The company’s chief executive Steven Cain said the supermarket knew customers now want to be able to shop for food and essentials “anytime, anywhere and anyhow”.

Coles said customers were demanding more convenience about when they shop and how they order groceries. Credit:Getty

“Our research shows the number one consideration for online shoppers is convenience and for click and collect customers it’s immediate collection,” he said.

The grocery giant has been running a pilot program of “rapid” click and collect slots this year, where shopping was available for pickup in under 60 minutes. The service is available in close to 400 stores and there are plans to launch in another 200 across the country next year.

The offer lets shoppers order up to 40 items between 8:30am and 4:30pm each day, for a flat pickup fee of $5 and a promise that the groceries will be ready to be placed in a car boot in less than an hour.

Coles focus on quick pick-ups comes after a period of huge growth in e-commerce sales across the supermarkets space in the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Online grocery sales declined at the supermarket during the past quarter, but are still showing 105 per cent growth compared to three years ago.

Consumers have come to expect fast service over the past two years and retailers across the country have been developing new methods for pick up and delivery.

On Wednesday this masthead revealed that food delivery service DoorDash will enter the grocery delivery game with a fleet of corner stores accessible only to its contracted couriers to deliver essentials to shoppers.

Despite the enthusiasm for these services, some have found it challenging to find a sustainable business model. A number of the grocery delivery startups that emerged in the face of lockdowns have fallen on hard times this year. Meanwhile, food delivery service Deliveroo made the shock decision to exit the Australian market last week. 

The major supermarkets have moved fast to meet customer expectations after a surge in online grocery shopping over the past two years.

Woolworths expanded its ‘Metro60’ delivery app to Melbourne in August after a successful launch in Sydney, promising shoppers delivery in under 60 minutes from a selection of more than 4,000 products.

The national expansion of Coles’ rapid click and collect model comes as the supermarket looks to integrate more digital features into its in-store experience.

The group will officially open a ‘next generation’ store at Southland in Melbourne on Wednesday, featuring its largest grocery collections area, where shoppers will be directed by digital screens about where to park to collect their orders.

The store will also feature digital scales in the fresh produce section which will use artificial intelligence to work out what is being scanned, as well as digital gift card kiosks for festive gifts.

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