Woolworths has started its partnership with Uber this week to meet unprecedented demand for home deliveries.
It’ll cost the same as regular home delivery with the supermarket, which relaunched last week after several weeks offline.
Coles has already had a deal with the ride-share service’s Eats platform for about a year.
A spokesperson for the supermarket did not directly answer if it would enhance that existing relationship, when contacted by The New Daily.
The spokesperson did say the supermarket was in conversation with “multiple providers about options to add further capacity for Coles Online”.
Coles found itself a target for angry feedback from consumers and retail analysts last week, when it announced it was resuming its home delivery service but with fees above what it was charging pre-COVID.
We're excited to be teaming up with @Uber to offer thousands more home delivery windows for our customers each week.
Orders will be placed on our website or app, and our team will handpick items in-store before passing onto Uber drivers for delivery.https://t.co/lEdffssJHk pic.twitter.com/gCdFdp472R
— Woolworths (@woolworths) April 27, 2020
Woolworths will trial the Uber service in Townsville in three stores, before gradually rolling it out across the country in “coming weeks”.
Woolworths did not provide further details to The New Daily about how quickly other locations would gain access to the service, or which areas would be prioritised.
Orders can be placed as usual, but they’ll be capped at 40 items.
“Personal shoppers” will then “hand pick” the order at the supermarket, before handing it off to an Uber driver to be delivered the next day.
Woolworths did not clarify if these personal shoppers will be additional workers, or if they make up some of the 20,000 workers the supermarket last month forecast it will employ in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The New Daily also reached out to Uber for details on how driver payments will be calculated, but did not receive a response.
A quick lesson in adapting
Uber isn’t the first delivery provider to align with supermarkets, in the ever-changing game of dodging the coronavirus while retaining customer service.
Woolworths already brought Sherpa and Drive Yello couriers on board to assist in last mile delivery for its online customers.
These providers are estimated to employ an extra 5000 drivers between them, partially to help shift the Woolies’ groceries from a pop-up delivery hub in a Melbourne suburb.
Both major supermarkets – as well as smaller players – got their first taste of the impact the coronavirus outbreak would have when toilet paper started flying off shelves in late February.
Loo roll was followed by long-lasting staples like rice, pasta and canned goods, forcing per-customer limits to be introduced in a bid to limit stockpiling.
They then introduced community hours, for vulnerable or elderly customers – restocked especially for them to ensure they had access to the items they needed, while creating a less-congested shopping environment.
These hours were later extended to essential service workers like healthcare employees and members of the emergency services.
Generalised home delivery services were scrapped: Many of these staff were redeployed to warehouses to keep stock rolling through to shelves.
Supermarkets also cut down their opening hours, to focus on delivery services for vulnerable customers.
Casual staff were used in their thousands to pack shelves, clean and enforce social distancing and hygiene protocols in stores.
There’s per-store customer limits to abide by safe social distancing regulations, as well as floor markers and protective screens at manned checkouts.