Coles Vetoes Online Pricing

In an interesting move this week, supermarket giant Coles has decided to stick with its current policy not to publish its online prices.  Christopher Zinn, spokesman for Australian consumer advocacy group CHOICE say this is very “disappointing” and that Coles should reconsider its decision.

While Coles does not allow its online shoppers to see the total cost of shopping baskets until checkout, competitors ALDI and Woolworths have begun to display grocery item prices.

“We have a pretty ordinary offering from Woolworths, but in all fairness it is a start,” Mr Zinn told the Australian Associated Press.

Coles spokesman Jim Cooper said the supermarket’s customers aren’t interested in online pricing, and therefore the cost and complexity of integrating such a feature aren’t worth it at this stage.

However, online pricing options, or a lack thereof, do raise questions surrounding the issue of transparency – something more companies move to embrace, rather than dismiss, in the current e-commerce climate.

And this gives Woolworths a distinct competitive advantage over Coles.  As Mr Zinn put it, Woolworths now has the opportunity to say “We are fair dinkum about having prices online, we are prepared for you to see our prices but Coles don’t want you to see theirs”.

What do you think of Coles’ decision – is it a smart, calculated move or does it demonstrate a lack of e-commerce understanding?

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