Woolworths or Coles: Which is better for online shopping?

Woolworths coles

So, like thousands of Aussie’s, you’ve made the decision to simplify your grocery shopping ritual … and go online.

Well done. Great move. You’re gonna save time, money, stress and sanity!

But wait, there’s just one more decision you have to make. Will you shop with Woolworths or Coles?

Well, there are a number of factors you need to consider. And to help you make the right decision, we’ve assessed and dissected both options to bring you the information you need.

How online grocery shopping works

Whether it’s Woolworths or Coles, online supermarket shopping can be a real life saver.

Supermarkets are investing heavily in online shopping to reduce staff and provide more options to time-poor customers. And who doesn’t want to skip the traffic and queues?

To save time (and money) more and more people are shopping for groceries online.

Shopping for groceries online is similar to shopping on Amazon, eBay or your favourite online store. Sign up with your name and details on the store’s app or website, choose the items you want, add to your cart and checkout. Easy peasy.

Big shops like Coles and Woolworths make shopping even more convenient with options like store pickup or click and collect, on-demand delivery (within 2 hours), 30-day free deliveries, new delivery times during the pandemic, and delivery tracking. If you’re living with seniors or are in mandatory iso due to COVID-19, you can even get priority grocery delivery.

We expect the online grocery shopping trend to keep growing under the new normal not just in Australia but the rest of the world.

If you’re totally new to online grocery shopping, we’ve compared two of the nation’s biggest supermarkets to help you make the right choice for your location, family and needs.

Benefits of doing grocery shopping online

Online grocery shopping always wins over supermarket shopping.

We get it.

It’s a chore. Going to the store, filling up the car with fuel, dragging the kids along, waiting in long lines … very few people actually “enjoy” it. Why not be done with it in a few minutes and get back to more important things?

Here are just some of the benefits of online supermarket shopping:

  • No waiting in line. Fire up the store’s app or website, choose your items, pay and you’re done. Many shops are open 24/7 and will deliver on demand for the things you need right now. Canstar Blue’s 2020 survey found that 22% of respondents shopped online because it’s more convenient and easier than going to the store.
  • Save money on fuel. Whether you shop at Coles or Woolworths, the delivery fee usually covers fuel costs and it’s even cheaper if you order in bulk.
  • Cut down on impulse buys. The old mantra “never go food shopping when you are hungry” couldn’t be truer. When shopping online, you can simply use the search bar to find the items you need and fast. You have the option to create shopping lists ahead of time to reduce the urge to impulse shop. Fun fact: Supermarkets are carefully laid out to encourage you to impulse buy.
  • Choose delivery times. Not at home? Pick a delivery window that’s convenient to you. Or go to the store and pick up your order if you’re already on the road.
  • Take advantage of online exclusives. Coles or Woolworths frequently offer specials exclusive to online shoppers. You can easily compare unit prices online to save money further.

Get more support with online supermarket shopping here: 13 Online grocery shopping tips to save money and time.

Compare online grocery shopping: Coles vs. Woolworths

Is Woolworths or Coles your go-to online shop for groceries? We’ve compared key services like delivery cost and customer service to make shopping easier.

Delivery area:

COLES: Coles delivers Australia-wide and to some remote areas. After providing your address, Coles will set you up with the closest online store in your area. Remote deliveries depend on local transport operator schedules so orders must be placed a few days ahead.

WOOLWORTHS: Woolworths delivers Australia-wide with multiple delivery windows depending on location. Even if you live in a remote location, they work with couriers to get your groceries delivered fresh to your door (additional charges may apply). If you need groceries within 2 hours, check out their Delivery Now option for select locations across the country.

Both stores deliver to most of the country and some remote areas (with additional fees), but Woolworths wins for number of delivery options.

Delivery cost

COLES: Coles charges a flat fee of $4 for a 6-hour delivery window. Free delivery is available on standard orders when you spend over $250. Free delivery also applies to your first shop when you spend $100 or more. Coles offers the Coles Plus subscription service to cover the cost of home delivery fees. This is valid on purchases from Coles Online when you spend $50 or more per order.

WOOLWORTHS: Woolworths next day delivery fee starts at $13 (5-hour window) and $15 (3-hour window) for same-day delivery for orders up to $100. The more you order the cheaper the shipping fee (as low as $1 on orders $250-$300 with a 5-hour window). If you want groceries fast, the Delivery Now service is available in select areas and ships groceries to you within 2 hours, although there is a 30-item limit per order. Free delivery applies to your first order of at least $100 and all orders over $300. Woolworths also offers 30 days free delivery with the Delivery Unlimited subscription service. After the trial period and you continue your subscription, you get free delivery for orders $50 and more.

Overall, delivery costs are comparable especially if you live in metro areas, but Coles offers free delivery options beyond your first order and generally lower fees for below $100 orders.

Range of produce

COLES: Coles carries everything from grocery essentials (meat, produce, bread, milk, baby) to household items. Their inventory is comparable to other supermarkets, but certain items may be unavailable depending on your delivery area. Coles scored 3 stars for product availability on the 2020 Canstar Blue Survey.

WOOLWORTHS: Woolworths products include fresh produce, meat and deli, baked goods, dairy, freezer, drinks, pet, baby, health and beauty, household and lunch box. Some items will show as unavailable or out of stock if you change your delivery or pickup location.

Product variety and availability are two things Coles and Woolworths could improve based on customer surveys. According to Today, Woolworths had a better variety of product types and sizes.

Click and collect

COLES: The availability of Click and Collect depends on your location. All delivery options will be shown for the address you enter when you first sign up. Collection time slots are available to view and select up to 14 days in advance.

WOOLWORTHS: Add items to your cart and choose the Pick Up option at checkout if you want to collect groceries for yourself or for someone else. You’ll receive a notification when your order is ready to be collected. Pick Up is available in most locations, and over 100 areas have a Drive Thru service so you don’t have to step out of the car.

Coles and Woolworths both offer pick up at your nearest store to make shopping more convenient. We love the Woolies Drive Thru service if you are in a rush.

Website navigation

COLES: The Coles main website is simpler than Woolies and has fewer sections on the landing page. You have to click another button to be taken to the online shopping portal, but overall the layout is easy to navigate. Current specials and recipes are top and centre so you won’t miss them.

WOOLWORTHS: The Woolworths website takes you straight to grocery shopping, with item categories, specials and cart info right up top. It’s a bit crowded but well-organised. Scroll down the page to find this week’s specials, recipes, the most popular items, and COVID-19 updates.

Both websites get top marks for user-friendliness, but the Woolworths website puts everything at your fingertips. Specials are featured prominently and help is just a click away.

Checkout experience

COLES: Coles lets you pay with credit card, debit card or PayPal. Credit/debit card payments may be pre-authorised with the full amount charged at the time they pick up your order. No cash, gift cards, cheques or “buy now pay later” plans accepted.

WOOLWORTHS: The checkout experience is similar at Woolworths. You pay with credit card, debit card or PayPal and the payment method is pre-authorised based on an estimated charge. Your card will only be charged at the day of pickup or delivery after the order has been finalised.

Checkout is straightforward at both Coles and Woolworths but the payment methods are limited.

Customer service

COLES: Coles got three stars for its customer service and overall satisfaction based on the 2020 Canstar Blue survey. The Coles website has an extensive FAQ page although you have to scroll all the way down the page to find this section.

WOOLWORTHS: Similarly, Woolies customer service is top-notch and one of the best things about their online shopping experience.

Coles and Woolworths both offer excellent customer service. Woolworths had the most satisfied customers for the second year in a row according to Canstar Blue.

Deals and specials

COLES: Coles features their specials front and centre so they are hard to miss. Sign up to their mailing list to get more half-priced specials and weekly deals in your inbox.

WOOLWORTHS: Like Coles, Woolworths specials are on the top of the page. You can sign up to their mailing list to get more deals. In terms of price, Woolworths came out on top based on 252 products (including grocery essentials, meat and personal products) compared by Today. Woolworths also had a better variety of product types and sizes.

Both stores offer frequent specials as well as online exclusives, but Woolworths comes out on top in terms of price based on 252 products (including grocery essentials, meat and personal products).

Loyalty schemes

COLES: Coles flybuys loyalty scheme is free to join and lets you earn points that can be converted to vouchers, gift cards, Virgin Velocity frequent flyer points and a variety of products from their catalogue.

WOOLWORTHS: Woolworths Rewards is also free to join and lets you accumulate points on all supermarket shopping, which you can then convert to vouchers or Qantas frequent flyer points.

Coles offers more flexibility in terms of type of rewards compared to Woolworths.

Which is best: Woolworths online vs. Coles online?

Online grocery shopping has been a lifesaver for time-poor mums and people in isolation. You can compare unit prices for all shops and score specials online right from the comfort of your home. The convenience really can’t be beat.

Customer service is great at Woolworths and good at Coles, and you can easily get extra help through live chat or phone if needed. Make sure to link up your rewards card at both shops to rack up points and be on the lookout for exclusive online specials to stretch your wallet.

It’s a close race between Coles and Woolies, but Woolworths’ delivery service, pick-up reliability, customer service and better variety of products makes it our favourite big supermarket for online shopping.

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