Are dark stores the future of Coles?

The food and liquor market is one of the highest-growth categories in online retail. This comes as no surprise considering working professionals hardly have the time to visit a grocery store.  The dark store supermarket alternative eliminates the woes of congested queues, human traffic and bulky online order trolleys. Furthermore, it allows customers to simply shop from the comforts of their own home.

Woolworths was the first supermarket in Australia to implement this effective shopping style in Mascot of August of 2014. It was especially tailored to families with young children. Woolworths have dedicated a sufficient strategy in which a team works both nights and days to satisfy consumer demands, without disrupting their daily routine. Customers who spend more than $300 are also entitled to free delivery.

Now, some two years later, Coles has decided to join the bandwagon of ‘dark stores.’ The first of which can be found within the Melbourne suburb of Richmond and has been in business since it’s recent launch in April. Customers are eligible for online delivery if they live within five kilometres of the inner city suburb; taking in some of Melbourne’s most densely populated suburbs.

Wesfarmers said Australia’s spread-out geography and the convenience of supermarket shopping in most suburbs meant this model would only suit a handful of densely populated areas in the country. Coles Managing Director, John Durkan, is a strong advocate for dark stores saying; “Dedicated online stores could help the grocery chain more efficient.”

Image Credit Louise Kennerley

Image Credit Louise Kennerley

Coles are hoping to position themselves against competitors, Aldi, Costco and Woolworths. So which supermarket will most successfully implement the newest trend in grocery shopping? Only time will tell.




Scarlett is a recent journalism graduate interested in writing, human resource management and workplace culture. When she isn't being a nerd, she enjoys singing, reading and seeing friends.