A new shopping era: Coles plan will see bag-packing robots replace humans

Coles has partnered with British online supermarket Ocado to bring a robotic packing system to Australia. Source: Getty

Major supermarket chain Coles will bring technology to the forefront of its business with the introduction of a robot-driven grocery platform to assist with online shopping and delivery.

The company has signed a deal with British online supermarket Ocado to improve the service it offers customers, using a team of robots to pick up and drop individual grocery items into customer order boxes – a job which is currently undertaken by employees.

Coles announced the news in a statement released on Tuesday, confirming the creation of automated fulfillment centres in Melbourne and Sydney which will house the robotic systems by 2023.

The creative system is expected to improve the shopping experience for customers with improved product availability and more regular delivery windows. It will essentially double Coles’ current home delivery capacity, leading to an improved profit margin for the supermarket.

In a statement, Coles Chief Executive Officer Steven Cain said they are “delighted” to partner with Ocado on the exciting venture, adding: “Ocado is singularly focused on online grocery shopping, and as a result, has become the leading solution provider in the world.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the to make life easier for Coles’ customers here in Australia. Ocado’s ongoing investment and retail partnerships around the world will help us continue to improve our offer into the future.”

Ocado Solutions Luke Jensen echoed his comments, claiming the company is “proud” to have Coles on board with the system.

“Our flexible, scalable and modular solution will help them bring new levels of convenience, choice and value to Australian consumers,” Jensen said. “The Australian market is changing as consumer needs evolve and our platform will enable Coles to lead this transformation in a profitable and sustainable way.”

Although robots will take on much of the hard labour currently fulfilled by Coles employees, the supermarket has confirmed that no one will be out of a job when the system comes into effect.

“It’s business as usual for team members for now,” a Coles spokesperson told Starts at 60. “Once operational in FY23, the Customer Fulfillment Centres (CFC) will replace the existing home delivery service of some of our Coles Online departments in Victoria and New South Wales.

“We expect to be able to redeploy all affected Coles Online team members, and we expect that there will be in excess of 300 new jobs created including picking and general warehouse roles per CFC.”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you shop online with Coles? Do you think the robotic system is a good idea?

Stories that matter, delivered straight to your inbox

Sign up to our daily newsletter for more great stories

Leave your comment

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…