Woolworths to tap into online communities

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 6th May 2008

Woolworths is now looking for ways to capitalise on the success of social networking websites in their endeavours to improve online shopping options for their consumers.

The news comes in the wake of research last month into online shopping in Australia by market research firm The Leading Edge, which indicated the comparative lack of success of online retail in Australia compared to other countries like the US and the UK. Australians cited concerns to do with delivery costs and difficulty of returning goods as reasons for not shopping on-line. In the US many companies adopt a ‘no questions asked’ policy when it comes to customer returns, thus ensuring the customer feels safer about their purchase decision but such policies are rare in Australia.

It was found that people were particularly concerned about food purchases due to a perception that quality may be compromised.

The Australian Financial Review spoke to Woolworths CIO David Beecham, who indicated that Woolworths would aim to involve the customer more in online shopping but he was coy on exact details of their plans. “(Building) a community and trying to connect with your customers has got some real potential,” he told the Australian Financial Review. “There are a whole lot of different retail opportunities.”

Woolworths are now dedicating $200 million each year toward IT system solutions and development, indicating their dedication to keep up with the digital age. The announcement follows their recent introduction of self-checkout technology, which is set to involve 70 supermarkets before the end of the year.