How to Fail at Online Supermarket Delivery

Shopping at the supermarket has always been one of my least favourite weekend activities. I was pretty happy when I was able to convince my wife Jacqui that we should stop wasting time in the supermarket every weekend and instead order our groceries online.

We’ve never been totally loyal to one of the Australian supermarket chains. We go to Coles when convenient and Woolworths when convenient. However as our closest supermarket is Woolworths we typically go there. They have good quality products we like and nice service.

However our first online supermarket delivery experience was with Coles(due to a discount voucher we had). I was away, but my wife Jacqui was delighted with the delivery. The driver was friendly, explained everything as it was her first time and the products were all perfect. The driver even unpacked the bags out of the crates. Great service.

We were hooked. Jacqui was happy with it and keen to keep using deliveries.

Given we usually shopped at Woolworths, we figured lets order this one through Woolies and lets buy a 3 month delivery package. At only $3 per weekly delivery it just made sense. We didn’t give it another thought.

Then our delivery came. First time with Woolworths delivery. The driver’s demeanour wasn’t as friendly, but he did what we wanted. However the bags had been packed with much less care than Coles had done. When we opened the eggs, 4 out of 12 were broken. So we ring up the customer care line, discuss the problem, the eggs are refunded. No problem we figure, just one of those things that happens.

Second weekly delivery and the driver didn’t want to bring the crates inside. We didn’t press the issue though. This time the seal on a packet of bacon was broken. Again Woolworths refunded it. Then a few days later we went to open our packet of bean sprouts and they were mush. It turned out the used by date was the day after the delivery. Again Woolworths gave us a refund.

Our squashed bread alongside the offending potatoes
Our squashed bread alongside the offending potatoes

Tonight we got our third delivery. This time some genius decided to put 2 KG bags of onions and potatoes on top of our bread. It’s squashed as pictured. So that’s 3 out of 3 bad customer experiences with Woolworths.

So far we’ve been happy with Woolworth’s customer care line. There’s never been any question, they’ve just refunded damaged items after we told them what happened.

Not tonight. Sure they were more than happy to refund the items. But they didn’t care what was wrong. When we insisted on telling the customer service officer what was wrong, she tried to blame the delivery driver. The driver doesn’t pack the bags! So it seems they don’t care about improving their service, they’ll just buy your happiness!

We don’t want to have to phone Woolworths every time we get a delivery to get refunds on damaged items. We just want to get the same quality service we would get from a checkout operator.

Checkout operators carefully pack bags to ensure items don’t end up squashed or damaged. Why can’t Woolworths just get their checkout operator trainers to train their delivery packers? They’ve got all the hard parts of the logistics of delivery right. It’s just the simple things that they’re failing.

I’m not looking to bag them out, or chase refunds all the time. I understand this is a new service and there’ll be teething issues. I’m happy to help Woolworths improve by providing feedback. It seems they don’t really care about improving their customer experience though. They figure it’s just about refunds.

So the lessons I’d draw from this for all businesses is learn from your mistakes and make sure your customers know you’re improving. Seek feedback on your customer experience and apply it. It’s not just about giving money back – actually correct the problem. Not improving will lose you repeat customers.

Unless Woolworths lifts its game in the next 2 months we still have left, we’ll be going back to Coles.

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