For Coles Supermarkets it’s a case of service to your door
There’s nothing new about the idea of ordering your weekly groceries and having them delivered to your door. What has changed though is the realisation that business expansion can take place if the corporate focus is enlarged to look at current consumer requirements.
As the general public improved their mobility during the late 60’s with the purchase of a family car, the home delivery options for milk, bread, meat and groceries all declined. Shoppers collected their own provisions, and shopping malls started to appear in major centres, increasing choice and improving access.
Now it appears that the whole logistical problem of supply and demand has once again changed, as shoppers try to balance their free time away from work with working longer hours in the office. Access to the web means that goods and services can be supplied by home delivery, to the extent that some industry forecasts are suggesting a future reduction in shopping malls may well result.
As employees spend more time at work, they have less time available to complete the weekly shop. How much more convenient it then becomes to have a virtual assistant, working behind the scenes to supply all your needs direct to your door.
In the same way that Australia Post is now increasing its business by delivering goods ordered over the web, Coles Online provides the opportunity to pre-order all your supermarket needs and have them delivered to your door within a predetermined timeframe.
Delivery Magazine was introduced to the Coles Online network at its Narellan, NSW, supermarket, one of 23 locations that provide a base for the online service.
Customer Service Agent (CSA) Nicole Hopping demonstrated how customers order their groceries online, select their timeslot for delivery and then pay their bill, quickly and easily from any personal internet link, be it iPhone, iPad, laptop or desktop computer.
Each morning the Coles Online team attached to each participating branch arrives at work to find their run sheets for their individual deliveries are already allocated, and the goods picked and packed. They check their vehicles, load in their allocated stock, and the portable sat/nav and data recording unit advises them of the most efficient route between drops for the day’s run.
“The data unit provides the route information and also advises of school zones and speed limits throughout the route. It removes a lot of the potential for stress on the part of the driver,” said Nicole.
“All our drivers are specially selected and have to undergo an induction course of 40 hours of in-house training where they learn the job with an experienced CSA. Each driver is evaluated for their driving ability and trained to meet the required standard before being allowed to take a run on their own,” added Nicole.
Interestingly, Nicole explained that there is a quantifiable number of customers that order grocery supplies from overseas on behalf of relatives or friends living in Australia.
“We find that families living overseas will often order food for delivery in Australia, perhaps for their parents. They can pay from whichever country they live, and that way they know their family always has the right quality of food in their house,” said Nicole.
“Many of our customers are housebound because of illness or disability and are unable to go out shopping. They like the idea that many of our customer service agents (CSAs) are female. Our drivers are often the only people the customer might see in a day and they look forward to our arrival,” Nicole added.
“It’s quite normal for a typical run to take in multiple drops over a radius of 60-80 km within an eight-hour day. Because each delivery is already pre-paid there is no financial accounting to take place during the day.
“The Mercedes-Benz Sprinters we use are easily identified as each has its own personalised name written on the doors and bonnet. The names result from a completion we have on our website.
“Each load is refrigerated and this ensures that everything arrives in top condition. The Sprinters are lovely to drive, just like a car. Each of us is responsible for our own truck and we take really good care of them. With the automatic gearbox, they are as easy to drive as a normal car,” added Nicole.
The Coles Online fleet now numbers in the region of 230 vehicles, and each of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinters is the subject of a full repair and maintenance agreement under the Safeguard system through Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
Based on the Sprinter 516 Long Wheelbase cab/chassis, the units feature a 2.2-litre, CDI four-cylinder diesel engine with two-stage turbocharging and intercooling. Maximum power of 120 kW is produced at 3,800 rpm with peak torque of 360 Nm rated at 1,400-2,400rpm.
The 516 LWB model features a six-speed ECO manual gearbox as standard, but the Coles Online fleet features the optional five-speed automatic transmission. The Mercedes-Benz 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission is standard fitment in the Sprinter 519 LWB chassis/cab. The gross vehicle weight at 4.49 tonnes enables the vehicle to be driven under a standard car licence requirement. A higher 5,000 kg GVM version is also available.
The technical sophistication of the CanBus electrical system utilises a PSM module that enables specific functions to be easily programmable.
In the case of the LWB 516 models in the Coles Online fleet, the hazard warning lights are controlled by the PMS module to flash repeatedly for a set time period as the CSA works in the vicinity of the vehicle load area.
The refrigerated bodywork is fitted with a Carrier Pulsor refrigeration unit. The patented E-Drive technology incorporated in the Carrier Pulsor refrigeration unit is based on an inverter with a variable speed hermetic compressor that is powered by electricity produced by the engine-driven generator.
By using an inverter linked to the variable speed hermetic compressor the Pulsor unit is able to work at different speeds according to the inverter’s output while delivering constant capacity at all refrigeration phases.
Frequent stops, multiple door openings, traffic congestion, multi-temperature goods and sensitive products are usually reasons why some older-style refrigeration units have difficulty maintaining preset temperatures.
Conventional refrigeration units depend on engine speed and reach optimum capacity at 2400 rpm. However, during city deliveries, a vehicle may be operating 90 percent of the time at low speed, under 2400 rpm. This compromises refrigeration capacity and makes it even harder to maintain the right temperature inside the body.
The benefits of the inverter technology with variable speed hermetic compressor enable the Pulsor to deliver 100 percent of its refrigeration capacity at low engine speed to guarantee constant cold temperatures throughout the day.
As a result of its E-Drive technology, Pulsor achieves high levels of reliability thanks to fewer moving parts and fittings, due to the absence of belt drives and mechanical transmissions. Optimum fleet availability together with reduced maintenance and an estimated 20 percent reduction of fuel consumption during pull-down phase maintain a low cost of ownership.
Operating in outside temperatures of -30°C to +50°C, Pulsor delivers -30°C to +30°C in the box in all these conditions.
Driver intervention involves checking the temperature monitor mounted in the vehicle cabin. This display indicates any temperature changes, fault codes and defrost intervals. A programmable timer starts the unit in standby mode before the arrival of the driver.
From a safety perspective the standard Sprinter features Adaptive Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) together with ABS, ASR, BAS, EBD, ROM, LAC, RMI and USC. Other equipment includes a driver’s SRS airbag, front passenger airbag, height adjustable head restraints, three-point inertia seat belts, height adjustable seat belts, four-wheel disc brakes, front and rear brake pad depth indicators, hill-start assist, rear fog lamp, and daytime running lamps.
A recent safety inclusion adds Crosswind Assist. Within the limits of what is physically possible, Crosswind Assist almost completely offsets the effects of gusts of wind on the vehicle. It greatly reduces driver stress, because motorists no longer have to steer as much against sudden gusts of wind. Crosswind Assist is based on the standard-fitted Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) and is activated at speeds of 80 km/h and above.