Coles quietly expands UberEats trial to deliver supermarket essentials


Coles is offering the expanded UberEats menu from its Bondi Junction, Leichhardt, North Sydney and World Square outlets.

Coles and Uber declined to comment.

UberEats offers the delivery of select essential supermarket items from Coles World Square location.Credit:Screenshot: UberEats

The pricing of the “essentials” range appeared to have been adjusted to absorb some of Uber’s charges. Bananas were listed at $1 each, avocados at $3, 2 litre A2 full cream milk at $5.70 and a packet of Tim Tam’s at $4. Customers also incur Uber’s $5 delivery charge.

Retail Oasis analyst Pippa Kulmar said the higher cost would not deter customers.

“I think it would work very well in the inner city and when time is money,” she said. “People are used to paying for convenience.”

UberEats is the largest online food delivery service in a growing Australian market.

The way we shop at a supermarket has changed a lot.

Pippa Kulmar

Both supermarkets have been trying to accommodate time-poor shoppers amid a looming Amazon threat, expanding their offer of ready-made meals and opening smaller metro stores.

Prior to the spin-out of Coles from Wesfarmers the company’s chief executive Richard Goyder warned Amazon would “eat all our breakfasts, lunches and dinners” if Australian retailers did not become more innovative.

Ms Kulmar said innovation was “well overdue”.

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“Supermarkets have had delivery for quite a while, and the issue they’ve had is it’s set up around ‘the big shop’ where you’d book a time days in advance,” she said.

“The way we shop at a supermarket has changed a lot. You tend to finish work, think ‘what am I going to make for dinner’, and then go to the supermarket on the back of that. It’s a game of speeding up delivery time, because the way we shop for food is much more impulsive than it used to be.”

The move away from an in-house service to partnership is also significant in offsetting costs.

“It’s a really high cost to entirely support the technology, platform and infrastructure to get goods that last-mile to the customer, and reduce the time it takes,” Ms Kulmar said.

“By partnering they can start to roll things out quite quickly and move in an agile manner. That’s the way of the future and what we’ll see with more traditional retail. It will be up to Woolies to come back with how they will play this.”

UberEats’ projected delivery times of 25 to 45 minutes could potentially rival Woolworths’ promise of two-hour delivery through its Woolworths Express service.

A Woolworths spokesperson expressed confidence in the supermarket’s existing on-demand service and the convenience initiatives it has in place.

The current UberEats trial is Coles’ third attempt at partnering with a “gig economy” service: in 2017 it ran trials with the now-defunct UberRUSH courier and delivery brand and bicycle-based service Deliveroo.

Natassia is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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