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Coles and Woolies reopen online after five-week hiatus

Australia’s big two supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, are reopening online grocery delivery and pick-up to all customers following a five-week suspension in which they sought to prioritise vulnerable shoppers and get a a handle on the increased demand for online grocery spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an email update to customers on Tuesday, Coles confirmed that its online services would be up and running again on Wednesday, April 22.

“We are pleased to announce the reopening of our home delivery service. This means that both our Click&Collect & home delivery services are available to all customers from tomorrow,” the update read.

Shoppers are being invited to place orders through their existing Coles Online account and choose between Home Delivery, Click&Collect Service Desk and Click&Collect Concierge.

The supermarket giant said that orders from vulnerable customers accessing the Coles Online Priority Service (COPS) will continue to be prioritised as the general public descend on the site once again.

Woolworths will also re-open its online services this week, doubling its capacity as last-mile partners, Sherpa and Drive Yello couriers, enable the retailer to add tens of thousands of extra weekly home delivery windows.

To better manage stock levels and delivery, online orders will be capped at 40 items and will be delivered the next day.

“We’re seeing a big increase in demand for home delivery as more and more customers seek to limit their outings in the community,” WooliesX managing director Amanda Bardwell said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to find innovative ways to provide this much-needed additional delivery capacity across Australia. In partnership with Sherpa and Drive Yello, we now have a highly flexible and scalable way to meet the needs of many more of our online customers in the weeks and months ahead.”

Sherpa and Drive Yello have signed up more than 5000 drivers to help meet the surge in demand for online groceries.

A new “Pop-Up” Delivery Hub set to open in Notting Hill, Melbourne later this week, will be utilised to meet the demand for online orders, alongside hundreds of Woolworths stores around the country.

The 7000sqm delivery hub is expected to service more than 5000 orders weekly, with a curated range of popular online products.

“We’ll keep a close eye on customer feedback to see if there is value in standing up more sites like this across Australia,” Bardwell added.

Woolworths’ recently-announced partnership with PFD will help the retailer manage orders for its B2B customers, with access to PFD’s current product range, order fulfilment and last mile solutions.

The reopening of online grocery signals a gradual return to normalcy as stockpiling eases and supermarkets get a handle on stock levels.

Discount supermarket Aldi announced on Wednesday that it is beginning to ease product restrictions on a number of long-life pantry staples at its stores.

“Over the last few weeks, we have worked closely with our business partners to ensure that we could get much needed product back on our shelves promptly. In a sign of positivity, we are pleased that product restrictions have lifted on UHT milk, microwave rice, canned foods and sugar,” the retailer said in an update on its website.

With consumers urged to stay home as much as possible, there has been some interesting changes to consumer shopping behaviour, with increased demand across products such as hair colour, baking ingredients, condoms and skincare.

This story first appeared on our sister site, Inside FMCG.

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