Coles Online 20 years’ old

Coles online service has marked two decades, starting from a single Melbourne warehouse to become a $1 billion business.

Coles Online launched in 1999, just a few years after dial-up internet connections became widely available to Australian homes and almost a decade before the first smartphones hit the market.

At the time the service offered delivery to just 23 postcodes in Melbourne, operating out of a single pick-and-pack warehouse in Clayton.

Brian Donald, who delivered customer orders in the program’s early days, says the website was “almost just a list” and customers had to tick what they wanted. Currently Mr Donald holds the title of Coles Online’s Business Process and Improvement Manager.

By 2002, Coles Online was delivering 1 million items per month to customers, and in 2003 the business doubled in size with the acquisition of Shopfast.

Coles Online also outsourced picking, packing and delivery to Australia Post in 2003. By 2008 the online service had expanded to Queensland, and the following year launched in Western Australia and South Australia.

The first Click&Collect lockers appeared in 2009, which have now grown to more than 1,000 collection points.

Coles Online General Manager Karen Donaldson says the business is now setting the foundations for future growth through a partnership with the UK’s Ocado Group.

The group is set to construct two automated fulfilment centres in Sydney and Melbourne by 2023.

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