Coles is pulling the Woolies over our eyes
In the shopping future of my dreams I’d have a fancy little application that sent an instant message from my empty pantry and refrigerator to the fully stocked shelves of my local grocery store.
It would calculate the products I needed before delivering it straight to my door at a convenient time. Ideally this would happen via some kind of accessible hole in the back of the house, so I wouldn’t even have to be at home to receive it.
That’s because convenience is at the top of my list when it comes to grocery shopping. Price definitely comes a close second but if I can’t get the product I want when I want it, then even the cheapest shop is not going to help me.
And that’s the biggest problem with the roll out of this My5 rewards program that Coles has been spruiking. Ditto the copycat version from Woolworths Everyday Rewards program.
If you haven’t heard about or seen these yet, they’re basically an extension of the supermarket’s loyalty programs. Coles and Woolworths are offering a fixed discount on a range of household products for customers who register with the program.
And there’s the first catch. Signing up for each program requires becoming a member of the existing Coles Fly Buys program and the Woolworths Everyday Rewards card. These memberships require the customer to share information about themselves and their household, like your age, gender and address.
It’s marketing gold for the supermarkets which allows them to track your purchases and average spend. Worse, you pretty much have to buy everything on the shelf to get a plane ticket to Melbourne.
Things get more insidious under the rejigged loyalty program. Coles shoppers select five particular products from five different catgeories to receive 10 per cent off each product. But in order to be eligible, you must spend at least $50 in each transaction.
Now that’s pretty easy if you’re talking about a weekly grocery bill, which would easily exceed the $50 mark. But say one of your chosen products was an everyday item like pet food, milk, bread or nappies. In order to make the most of your discount, you’re also probably spending more each time you walk into the supermarket just to get it.
Woolworths customers are offered 20 per cent off a range of products, without a minimum spend, but according to feedback on their Everyday Rewards blog, the discounted products vary from store to store and region and region.
Bottom line: the price might be right but neither store will guarantee the product will be on the shelves on the day that you want it. And in the case of Coles you’re probably buying a bunch of stuff you don’t want to get a dollar off the stuff you do.
Not such a great deal for the customer, is it.
Supermarkets have a lucky advantage. We all need food and we all need to buy it regularly. In a perfect world this would encourage big chains with big advertising budgets to really engage with their customers real needs. And low prices on popular products are not the only way to do this.
Instead of Fly Buys points that get us nowhere fast, how about some real programs with real benefits for the customer. Like free home delivery, complimentary packing and people to carry stuff to your car and childcare services.
In summary supermarkets might actually look at real ways to reward us instead of bogus programs that reward their bottom line.
Follow me on Twitter: @lucyjk
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