Shopping Woolworths or Coles: Who offers a better online shopping experience?

Coles and Woolworths are the ‘big two’ supermarket giants in Australia. While Coles pushes low prices, Woolworths has built its reputation on fresh food. Both supermarkets offer online shopping, but how do the two stack up against each other?


User-Friendly Website

Whether you’re using the Coles or Woolworths website, it’s a good idea to log in straightaway to get a user experience that is specific to your location. Products and prices can vary depending on the store you’re shopping from, so it makes sense to get started by customising the webpage to your store.

Unsurprisingly, both sites spruik their own products on the homepage, but a wide range of brands are still represented on the websites.

Coles Website

The Coles homepage is organised into three convenient tabs:

  • Everything: all products broken down by category
  • Bought Before: list of products you’ve purchased previously for reference
  • Specials: Browse general specials or search by category to see what’s on special

Your shopping trolley is always visible in the right sidebar, where you can see a running tally of your total. You can also use the search bar to look for a specific item or a list of items, and specials and low-price items are clearly labeled. Overall, Coles has a reasonably user-friendly website, though the mix of images and categories can make it confusing to quickly identify the item you want.

Woolworths Website

The Woolworths website has a menu bar listing its categories across the top, making it easy to jump straight into shopping at anytime. Above this menu bar is another menu bar with four categories:

  • My Lists: Create your own shopping list or choose from suggested themed lists
  • Catalogue: Electronic version of the weekly specials catalogue and choose items directly from it
  • Recipes: Dedicated section for recipes
  • Discover: Browse for a mix of ideas and information related to food, cooking, and nutrition

 
The shopping trolley and current total is in the top right corner at all times, in the same row as the item search bar. Woolworths organises its specials by the type of special—for example, half price or online only—as well as category.

When ordering, customers can leave detailed notes for the shopper, such as an instruction to purchase ripe bananas rather than green ones. Overall, the Woolworths website is more intuitive than the Coles website and appears to offer a few more options.

User-Friendly Website Winner: Woolworths. The website isn’t as ‘busy’ as Coles and shopper notes are a nice feature.

 

Delivery Options

Efficient, reliable delivery options are an important component of online shopping. Customers want to know that they’re going to get their order on time, and it helps to have some flexibility in the delivery and pickup method.

Both Coles and Woolworths offer delivery 7 days a week, though that may vary depending on your location. Remote areas of Australia will need to visit the websites to find out if delivery is available, and if so, how often. Both supermarkets also offer the option to order and collect your groceries in-store, as well as tracking services.

Coles Delivery Options

Coles offers the following three options:

Delivery times vary depending on your location. When you place an order, you can select an available delivery slot, which generally falls within the following days and times:

  • Monday to Friday 6am to 10pm
  • Saturday 7am to 10pm
  • Sunday 8am to 2pm
  • Same-day delivery between 4pm and 10pm each day
  • Drop & Go: Nightly 12am to 5am

Orders can be cancelled or changed until the order cut-off time, which will be provided when you place your order.

Delivery fees are based on your location, the time of day, and the length of your delivery window. For example, if you choose an 8-hour delivery window, it may cost you less but you will need to be home for the duration of the time.

Delivery fees in metro areas typically fall between $4 and $18.

Coles offers three ways to get free delivery:

  • Place your first order
  • Flexi-free delivery:
  • Spend $150 or more and select an 8 hour time slot Spend $100 or more using your Coles credit card (terms and conditions apply)
Woolworths Delivery Options

Woolworths offers three delivery options:

Delivery times are offered in three-hour windows. Availability is based on your location and slots remaining at the time of your order. Delivery times range from 5am to 10pm, 7 days per week.

Customers can add or remove items from an order up until:

  • 5:30pm for a morning order the next day
  • 10:30pm for an afternoon or evening order the next day

Delivery fees are based on the cost of an order, though there may be additional fees for bulk orders or deliveries to remote areas.

Current fee guidelines are as follows:

Total cost of order Delivery fee
Up to $149.99 $12
$150 to $199.99 $9
$200 to $249.99 $6
$250 to $299.99 $3
$300+ Free

As with Coles, delivery is free for your first order. Customers can also purchase a Delivery Saver Pass, which allows for unlimited deliveries on orders of $100 or more. There are two types of passes:

  • Anyday Pass: Delivery 7 days per week, available for 1, 3 or 12 months
  • Weekday Pass: Delivery Tues – Thurs, available for 3 or 12 months

Delivery Winner: It’s a tie. Coles offers more options for free and same-day delivery, but Woolies does not require customers to be home at the time of delivery.

 

Quality of Fresh Food

The convenience of delivery is fantastic, as long as the quality of food doesn’t suffer. Customers still expect fresh food, whether they’re picking it up or having it delivered. Coles and Woolworths both promote locally sourced, high quality food.

Coles

Coles supermarkets work with 350 Australian farmers to provide fresh, local produce as often as possible. Coles reports that 96% of its fresh fruit and veg comes from Aussie farmers. All fresh Coles-brand beef, pork, lamb and chicken is also Australian raised.

Woolworths

Woolworths offers a ‘Fresh or Free Guarantee’ on all fresh meat, seafood, deli items, produce, and in-store baked goods. If a customer is not satisfied with an item, it can be returned for a refund or replacement. This guarantee applies to in-store and online purchases; online customers can submit a form to receive a refund and a credit on your next online order.

Fresh Food Winner: Woolworths. The Fresh Food People have the edge with their ‘Fresh or Free Guarantee.’

Price

Both supermarkets offer online prices that match in-store prices for your location, and may also offer online-only deals. Recent research from investment bank UBS indicates that the two supermarkets remain competitive in terms of pricing.


 

Coles vs. Woolies: Ethical Shopping

Ethical shopping is becoming an important consideration for many Australians. Supermarkets are being held accountable for the way food is produced and sourced, as well as the supply chain involved.

Both supermarkets outlawed single-use plastic bags in 2018, and have implemented this practice in online delivery orders as well. Customers have the option to choose reusable bags in deliveries or crate deliveries.

Coles

Coles has a number of mandates in place to promote good ethics, including:

  • All Coles Brand tea and coffee certified UTZ, Fairtrade, or Rainforest Alliance
  • Coles is a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and aims to use only sustainable palm oil in its own-brand products
  • Goal to manufacture all Coles Brand products with certified timber and paper by 2020
  • Coles Farm Program in place to work with suppliers and promote ongoing improvement
  • Coles Brand seafood has all been responsibly sourced since 2015
  • Coles Brand eggs are all cage free
  • Australian first sourcing policy for all food
Woolworths

Woolworths has announced plans to roll out a new Responsible Sourcing Program. The goal is to monitor its global supply chain to ensure that human rights are being respected and that international labour standards are upheld. It also promotes ethical behaviour through the following:

  • Aims to ensure all seafood is sustainably sourced
  • All fresh meat is sourced from Australia
  • Reduces food waste by selling ‘Odd Bunch’ fruit and vegetables at a value price
  • Promotes animal welfare
  • Aims for net zero deforestation for high impact commodities by 2020 for own brand products
  • All own brand tea, coffee, chocolate and sugar products to be sustainably certified by 2020
  • Focus on gender equality and indigenous representation

Winner: Coles. It has achieved tangible sustainability targets to date

 

The Verdict

Coles and Woolworths have famously been neck and neck across price, quality, and product choice. With the advent of online shopping, the supermarket giants have one more arena to compete in.

When all the points have been considered, Woolworths comes out as the winner for its user-friendly website, competitive prices, and fresh food policy.

However, watch this space: as online shopping continues to evolve, Coles still has room to take the top spot.


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