As an experiment to compare delivery times and overall service, on the same day I shopped at Woolworths’ and Coles’ online grocery sites before heading to both supermarkets (in the same suburb) to do the same shop in-store. I used the CHOICE grocery basket to compare prices.
Coles Online: using CHOICE’s shopping list made it easy to locate items quickly, though if you don’t have a list with product brands and sizes it could be quite time-consuming searching pages of products. Despite this, Coles’ site still led me astray – Sakata rice crackers were not found under savoury biscuits and crackers. A universal search found them in the chips, snacks and nuts section instead, even though they’re definitely biscuits. The Coles shop took 45 minutes and I chose a delivery timeslot of between 7.30am-10.30am the next morning.
Woolworths Online: a few items were difficult to find, and I again resorted to universal search. I chose a similar four-hour delivery slot to Coles, and again the total time taken for the online shop was 45 minutes.
In store shopping: I then set off to Woolworths to buy the CHOICE basket. It took ages to find the cheese – online it had been easy to use the search function, but in-store the dairy section had recently been re-arranged. Door-to-store and back took 50 minutes.
In Coles, I also found the CHOICE basket of goods quickly. However, I was tempted by extra items on special. See our article on how to avoid supermarket sales tactics. Door-to-store and home took 45 minutes. In my experience, Woolworths was on time and all purchases accounted for, though I wasn’t impressed with the amount of plastic bags used. By 11am, Coles had not arrived and I had to go out. Coles left two phone messages, one from the Coles online call centre and a second from the driver, saying he would have to return to the depot. I called back at midday to find my order cancelled and was told I should have phoned when my groceries didn’t arrive on time.
The CHOICE verdict
Despite the extra cost (see table), online grocery shopping is very convenient – provided all goes well. However, in the three and a half hours I spent waiting for Coles online to deliver I could have visited my local stores three times.