Woolworths has officially opened its first eStore at its Maroochydore (Big Top) supermarket in Queensland to meet increasing demands from local customers.
The 1,250 square metre space at the rear of the store uses micro-fulfilment technology to sort and move products from automated storage units, directly to team members hand picking customer orders.
The units can hold up to 10,000 of the most in-demand grocery products, while fresh fruit and vegetables and meat continue to be picked from the shop floor.
The micro-fulfilment technology dramatically improves the speed, efficiency and accuracy of the picking process. This will allow thousands of extra online orders to be delivered to Sunshine Coast customers each week, including more on a same day basis.
Woolworths has appointed around 150 team members to help fulfil orders from the Maroochydore eStore, including 80 new to the business.
“The continued growth in online grocery demand has given us an opportunity to reimagine the future of our stores,” Woolworths director of eCommerce Annette Karantoni said.
“As customer expectations continue to rise, we’re investing in cutting-edge technology on the Sunshine Coast to build an even better and more convenient online offer for local customers.
“This technology will help our team of 150 personal shoppers pick orders with greater speed and accuracy, while keeping us close to our Sunshine Coast customers for faster and more flexible deliveries to the home. The new delivery capacity comes at a critical time as more of our customers turn to home delivery through the pandemic,” she said.
“Importantly, the eStore layout also helps reduce congestion in the aisles for our in-store customers, as our personal shoppers pick most items in the back of house.”
The Maroochydore eStore will service home delivery orders spanning from Coolum Beach to Wurtulla.
“I want to congratulate the Woolworths team on investing in this upgrade aimed at boosting the online shopping experience to service local customers,” Queensland state MP for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said.
“This enhances customers’ ability to safely and efficiently shop from home while preserving the choice of shopping in person as well.”
Among the new roles is a Stock and Systems Manager, who is responsible for the technology and inventory. Sunshine Coast local Taylor Flanagan, 26, has taken on the role and is excited to learn new technical skills.
“It’s amazing to have the opportunity to work on this world-leading technology right here on the Sunshine Coast,” Flanagan said.
“I’ve had access to great training already and am really looking forward to building my technical skills in the role.”
Woolworths reported annual eCommerce sales growth of 90.5 per cent in the quarter ended 4 April 2021. These now account for around eight per cent of total sales.
Woolworths first announced its partnership with Takeoff Technologies in August 2019 and Maroochydore is one of four Woolworths Group sites to roll-out the capability. The first site launched in Carrum Downs, Victoria in October 2020 and the other two sites opened in New Zealand earlier this year.
Evolve Constructions built the eStore, with the project creating around 70 jobs throughout the construction period.