Woolworths will join Coles in resuming normal home delivery and click-and-collect services this week after outsourcing duties to last-mile delivery services Sherpa and Drive Yello.
The supermarket giant on Wednesday said the extra capacity would allow it to peel back a temporary suspension and offer “tens of thousands of extra delivery windows”.
Both Coles and Woolworths restricted delivery and click-and-collect for the majority of their customers last month in response to panic buying to free up delivery resources.
But they have continued to service those who are vulnerable, including seniors, people with a disability or those in mandatory isolation, as well as people who live in isolated locations.
Coles resumed home delivery and click-and-collect services for all customers on Wednesday.
Woolworth said it will use its existing network of supermarkets to fulfil online orders, as well as a new 7000 sqm ‘pop-up’ delivery hub in the Melbourne suburb of Notting Hill.
The hub, which will stock popular online products, will allow Woolworths to take more than 5000 additional orders each week. It will be staffed by more than 400 employees.
It will then use its existing delivery team and Sherpa and Drive Yello couriers to deliver orders, though Sherpa and Drive Yello orders will be capped at 40 items and delivered the next day.
Woolworth said more than 5,000 new drivers have signed up to the providers to help meet the demand for online groceries.
“Together with recent increases out of the existing home delivery network, Woolworths has now doubled its online capacity over the past month,” it said.
WooliesX Managing Director Amanda Bardwell said the partnership would allow delivery services to be extended to all, while continuing to prioritise vulnerable customers.
“We’re seeing a big increase in demand for home delivery as more and more customers seek to limit their outings in the community,” she said in a statement.
“While our first priority remains the most vulnerable in the community, we can now serve more of our regular online customers, including Delivery Unlimited subscribers, as well.”
Bardwell said the partnership with Sherpa and Drive Yello would give Woolworth “a highly flexible and scalable way to meet the needs of many more of our online customers”.
“We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to find innovative ways to provide this much-needed additional delivery capacity across Australia,” she said.
Woolworths is expected to consider opening further pop-up delivery hubs across Australia if the model proves successful.
“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 said.
In a separate statement, Coles general manager of Coles Online and strategic project Karen Donaldson said the supermarket had recruited hundreds of extra staff to increase delivery windows.
“By reorganising our delivery windows we have been able to increase the number of slots available for customers, and we have also recruited hundreds of extra Customer Service Agents to help us meet increased demand for Coles Online deliveries,” she said.