How supermarkets are pivoting to keep up with demand

The last month has seen widespread devastation across Australia’s retail community with many retailers shutting their doors as consumers opt to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Supermarkets, however, have witnessed a boom in trade, as consumer stock up on essential grocery and household items.

Over the weekend Coles and Woolworths announced several new initatives to keep Australia well-stocked.

New distribution centres

Coles has launched three new distribution centres across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria to meet demand, with more on the way according to CEO Steven Cain.

“We are also looking to open additional distribution centres to help us move more stock to stores and will help create even more jobs,” Coles CEO Steven Cain said.

The supermarket giant is working with employers and unions to place those that have recently lost their job as a result of the health pandemic.

Improving delivery services

Woolworths has said it will scale up its online delivery capacity over the next week to meet the need for essential goods.

On Monday, the business said it will expand a further 100 supermarkets into ‘priority delivery hubs’ after a successful trial in 41 locations, with new hubs launching throughout the week.

Additionally, Woolworths said it is working closely with Sherpa and Drive Yello to expand its driver base to improve delivery times for customers.

Focusing on vulnerable Australians

Woolworths is also stepping up efforts to get food to elderly and other vulnerable people who are stuck at home as coronavirus spreads.

The supermarket is rolling out an $80 box of basic groceries and will use Australia Post and other distribution channels to get orders to isolated people faster.

The box includes meals, snacks and a few essential items, and can’t be customised. It can be ordered online from this week in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

Other states will be added in coming weeks.

Woolworths says people who can shop for families or friends who are isolated should do so, to limit demand on the online service.

“There will be some in our community who don’t have that option, and we need your help to put the most vulnerable first,” Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a statement on Monday.

Hiring thousands for new jobs

Last week, Woolworths announced that it would hire 20,000 staff to manage the unprecedented demand in stores and online and, over the weekend, Coles revealed plans to recruit 5000 staff, on top of 7000 already hired in the space of two weeks.

Cain said the retailer has been “overwhelmed” by the number of applications received from people across different industries such as travel, sport, fitness and hospitality.

“To ensure we could act quickly, we streamlined our recruitment processes and assigned a dedicated team to fast track applications sent by corporate partners like Australian Venue Company and Virgin Australia,” he said.

“We have seen a lot of demand for roles, and where we have positions available, we are making sure that we can get people into them as quickly as possible.”

The latest recruits took up 6500 casual positions, 430 part-time and 80 full-time management positions. The majority of these roles were placed in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Keeping customers and staff safe

Woolworths checkout staff will be rotated every two hours to limit face-to-face interactions, and customers will be asked to pack their own bags for the foreseeable future.

“Our social distancing measures have been well received by our customers and team members to date and we’re grateful for the community support of this important public health effort,” Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said.

“Introducing additional measures such as packing your own bag and rotating our teams at checkouts every two hours will further support the health and wellbeing of everyone.”

Inside Retail is not affiliated with Coles or Woolworths.

For Coles Online Priority Service, please use this link:
https://shop.coles.com.au/a/national/content/coles-online-access-form  

For Woolworths Priority Assistance please use this link: https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance

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