Woolworths and Coles face fresh trouble meeting online orders

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Woolworths and Coles face fresh trouble meeting online orders

Some delivery options paused, tech troubles amid 'unprecedented demand'.

Woolworths has stopped taking online orders for same-day pick-up and delivery while Coles is also having trouble fulfilling online orders as panic buying left some supermarkets short of certain “household staples”.

On Sunday afternoon, Woolworths said it had “temporarily paused” its fastest online order options, though it continued to take orders with longer lead-time deliveries.

“We have temporarily paused our online ‘Pick up’ and ‘Delivery Now’ services due to temporary shortages on a number of items and to allow our teams to focus on serving customers in-store,” it said.

“Refunds on any existing orders are currently being processed.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience during this time.”

Delivery Now promises to deliver groceries within two hours to selected inner-city suburbs, while the pickup option allowed orders lodged before 1pm to be collected from a nearby supermarket the same day.

In both cases, the orders are fulfilled from shelf stock at the closest supermarket.

Woolworths customers reported on social media receiving text messages that read: “We are deeply sorry. We have made the difficult decision to cancel your online order as we are not able to supply the majority of products you have requested”.

Coles is suffering from similar problems. It has paused its version of Delivery Now, where it uses Uber Eats to make deliveries.

However, it did not appear to have paused other types of online orders.

Instead, Coles said it was fulfilling and dispatching orders as best it could, though that was likely to mean orders would be delivered incomplete.

“Coles Online and Click&Collect orders are picked and packed at our supermarkets the day you request delivery, so if the supermarket is out of stock of a particular product, we may unfortunately be unable to fulfil parts of your order,” it said on Sunday afternoon.

“You are not charged for items you order until we have picked and processed your groceries for delivery. 

“If a product you have requested is out of stock, you will be notified via email that it will not be included in your order and you will not be charged, so you do not need to call and request a refund.”

That approach appeared to be causing issues with some customers complaining of being delivered only a handful of items and a comparatively high fee for delivery.

Coles customers flooded its social media channels on Sunday saying they had been unable to complete online orders for several hours, or that they had lost existing delivery slots after checking on or modifying an existing order.

Supermarkets generally faced increased demand for certain food items and toiletries as Australia begins its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to some temporary shelf shortages.

Both Woolworths and Coles faced a similar surge in online demand last week though managed to resurrect their services during the week.

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