The technology that may change your Woolworths shopping experience forever

The technology that may change your Woolworths shopping experience forever

When you travel across the country, you may notice how the Woolworths stores may be different depending on the area they are in.

Some Woolworths stores have been equipped with expanded fresh food and ready-to-go meal choices, more payment automations and refurbished designs – but other stores are yet to receive the same treatment.

The decision to upgrade or remain is not arbitrary – rather, it is determined by the data analytics software that the supermarket giant uses to analyse the benefit from the significant investment.

9News reported that refurbishments and proof-of-concept locations are heavily influenced by the A/B testing software MarketDial, a tool to assess what is and is not working in stores based on two or more variants.

“No major investment around changing the direction of the organisation that requires capital should now happen without the influence of MarketDial being used to test whether it’s going to be effective,” Woolworths general manager of data and retail analytics Doug Frank told the outlet.

“When you’re a large organisation, most of your capital investments are multi-million dollars. If you just get one of those decisions right where it could have gone wrong, you’ve paid for [the software].”

Mike Smith, finance head at Woolworths Format Development, said the company has been using MarketDial for a year.

“What we try to do in a renewal is understand what capital to deploy to extract the most value possible, but making sure we meet our customer needs,” Smith told iTnews.

“We may have a store, which hasn’t been refurbished for quite some time. We know the refrigeration is extremely old and leaks, so it’s got a bad customer experience and it’s costing us a lot to maintain.

“The configuration of that store is probably not great so we might have constrained frontends, we might have really odd-shaped structures or blockages in sight lines that will need a full reset.

“And generally if those are in areas where we’ve got high volume – high turnover premium catchments – we know we need to go big.”

A Woolworths spokesperson said the supermarket has had 70 refurbishments each year for the past three financial years.

Some of the proof-of-concept trials run by Woolworths include the “Scan&Go” technology as well as “trolley self-serve lanes”, which allow shoppers to load groceries onto a conveyor belt before scanning them at the self-checkout at the other end.

The lanes are available at the Millers Junction Woolworths in Melbourne, and a similar version is also underway in Sydney’s Gregory Hills store.

In June last year, competitor Coles announced that it was looking to reduce costs by $1 billion through a four-year technology revamp called Smart Selling. The transformation would include automation of manual tasks and “extensive use of data analytics and artificial intelligence to ensure we are anticipating and fulfilling customer needs as they continue to evolve”, said CEO Steven Cain.