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Logistics & Fulfilment

Woolies and Coles suspend online orders as shoppers descend on sites

Australia’s biggest supermarkets are buckling under the pressure to meet online orders amid escalating grocery stockpiling, with both Coles and Woolworths temporarily suspending some forms of home delivery and in-store pick up.

Concerns over exposure to large crowds in the wake of escalating fears over the spread of COVID-19 has seen a dramatic spike in online grocery sales.

Research from Nielsen Homescan found that online grocery sales increased by over 45 per cent in the last few weeks of February and early March, putting logistical pressure on retailers’ delivery networks alongside increasing pressure to keep shelves filled as consumers continue to stockpile grocery and medical items.

On Monday, Coles announced that all home delivery and Click & Collect orders placed for Wednesday, March 18, and onwards would be cancelled, with both options suspended for an undisclosed period of time.

Coles said its delivery vans will be focused on delivering to those “in genuine need, especially the most vulnerable and those isolated”.

Remote delivery will still be available through the Coles Online website in conjunction with a third-party provider, and the retailer said it is working with Australia Post to look at other options to ensure those who are isolated have access to groceries.

“The steps we are taking will help ensure people’s safety and wellbeing while also ensuring we can continue to provide food and groceries for the Australian community, particularly as we enter a phase where more people will be staying at home,” the retailer said in a statement.

Woolworths has also paused its click-and-collect service, which it calls ‘Pick up’, nationwide for an undisclosed amount of time due to temporary shortages on a number of items.

Delivery services to most customers in Victoria have also been suspended until further notice.

“We saw an extraordinary level of demand for groceries across the country this weekend,” a Woolworths spokesperson said in a statement.

“Customers are encouraged to buy only what they need, as we’ll continue to receive extra orders of stock in our stores regularly.”

The retailer said it will continue to service online deliveries in selected metropolitan areas of Melbourne from its West Footscray Customer Fulfilment Centre and hopes to “turn deliveries back on” as soon as possible.

“We understand the decision to suspend delivery services out of Victorian stores will be incredibly frustrating for our customers and apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

The retailer is currently processing refunds on existing orders for customers.

A version of this story first appeared on sister site, Inside FMCG.

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