[AMA] I Work for One of The Two Big Supermarket Chains. Ask Me Anything!

Hi all,

I have worked in one of the two big chains (not saying which but its either Coles or Woolworths) for over 8 years now. I've worked in grocery/long life, dairy/freezer, customer service, meat and in fresh produce, so there's not much about the "behind the scenes" in supermarkets I don't know about :P

I'm currently studying at uni so I work part time atm.


closed Comments

    • +1

      But I said I work at one haha :P no really if I admit HR might try and figure out who I am.

      • It's ok I understand.
        But you are killing me (emotionalblackmail) =D

    • +1

      It's actually easy to work out which one he works for :P
      Two people have asked some very good questions which pretty much revealed which company he works for.

    • Perhaps worked at one for a while and is now at the other.

    • +3

      He works at Aldi…

      • +1

        That would be a twist!

    • The second comment was a bluff as OP by mistake revealed it earlier that he works at Coles. The answers is COLES.

  • Everytime the shelf is empty when there's a promotion and I ask the staff if there's anymore and they brush me off is it because they really have 0 fcks to give? The next day I go in and bam shelf full of it. Is it very hard to get more stock out of the back?

    • +1

      That's kinda sad. Who did you ask?

      It could be for any number of reasons:
      - the person doesn't work in replenishment, or is on break, or has finished their shift. If people come up to me when I'm really obviously shopping I don't help because their request could eat up my break time, or I could then get asked by someone else etc. etc. in that case I'll direct you to someone else.
      - maybe they knew we'd run out (someone might have already asked), or the load wasn't in yet, so they didn't bother looking and didn't want to waste their or your time
      - shelf would be full in the morning because the loads come in in the afternoon, and whatever comes on the load gets filled that night, hence full in the morning
      - the load could be in, but what you're looking for could be in a really small, hard to find box hidden in as many as 20 pallets, so they won't bother looking because it's too hard and time consuming

    • If you want to really be annoying/persistant ask the store member to check the stock on hand. Both the major supermarkets now work with real time SOH devices (called PDT's or maxes depending on the store. Some stores also are using iOS devices)

      • Most nightfill team members won't have a login for one though. And those counts aren't always reliable.

      • That depends if product was stolen would be showing still in stock if no one managed to check the counts or the warehouse shafted them by showing was sent when it wasn't. :/

  • What is the best day to get discounted meat that is still fresh? Or other saving tips for us…

    • It depends on when the staff member does markdowns.
      They are supposed to do daily checks, but it could be at 6am, 9am or even midday depending on how busy they are.

      • +1

        It's usually around midday, but be quick because the best specials go quick!

        If you're eyeing off some good cuts, take a look at the use by date and then come in the day before to see if its still there.

        • Are any staff members allowed to take those markdowns?I have seen some did take them back to their staff room.

        • @Neoika: yup, you just can't markdown something that doesn't need to be marked down.

  • For the weekly half price items, it feels like the manufacturers are the one that are taking the hit as these items tend of be new etc. Is this true?

    • I'm not sure but I suspect both companies take a hit. Like products such as Coca Cola, Smiths Chips, Natural confec/Allens lollies etc. are on special almost every week so there would obviously be long term sales planning/quotas etc.

  • Any tips/hacks to get free food, near best-before, damaged etc.? Thank you.

    • Anything damaged can't be sold and is thrown out, unless its just cosmetic eg. box is a bit bent. Best befores/use bys are most commonly found in fruit/veg, fridge + meat. Finding markdowns in long life is rarer.

  • I've heard of the concept of irradiated fruits and vegetables. Do you know if your supermarket chain irradiates fruits or vegetables and if so which ones and how can we tell if they have?

    • I don't know.

    • +1

      irradiated food? Just take a little bit of RadAway and you'll be all good.

  • Ok, I've a question about Click and collect and delivery orders - Is everything in the order stored chilled?

    Usually when I pickup my click and collect orders, I find that the entire order was stored in the cold area and even items marked 'Ambient' such as bread, canned goods and other pantry staples are fridge-cold. Now, if I am to store say bananas, potatoes and bread which have been in fridge at room temperature once I bring back home, it's not going to last very long. Needless to say, this also creates condensation inside bread and other packed goods when left at room temperature. I have had lot angry calls with customer service and I even write specific instructions to not store. So, I what I am asking is - how do you separate and store items for delivery and click and collect.

    • +4

      Chill out man.

    • Our store isn't involved in C&C (generally only the biggest stores do and they cover a larger region) but I would have thought the order would be separated into room temp/fridge/freezer items and stored accordingly.

    • For click and collects the ambient crates will usually be stored by the stores rear dock or whatever exit is close to the click bay, cold and frozen are stored in separate fridge/freezers. If your whole click order is really that cold, they are chucking ambient into the online fridge to either safe space in the back area or because they're lazing and they're keeping crates together. Could be a newer team member that doesn't know any better (a lot of kids get employed to do in store shopping and many of them lack common sense), but call customer care and complain to them or call the store on a weekday and ask to speak to the store manager or online manager.

  • What is going to happen to click and collect orders when plastic bags are no longer available?

    • I'm not involved in click n collect so I'm not sure, but I suspect they'll probably pack it in reusable bags.

    • +2

      Got an email from Woolworths this morning that says they will be adding $1 to all online orders to cover the cost of reusable plastic bags. For home delivery, you can pay an additional $3.5 for their crate-to-bench service (no bags).

      • Got the same email!
        Smells more like a cost-saving initiative to combat Aldi

  • As a fellow employee of the big two how do you feel about the constant turn over in managers in most departments?
    Ever had issues with managers and how have you dealt with them?

    • +1

      Issues with managers.. yes. It's amazing how much difference one manager (even just a department or duty manager) can positively/negatively make to the morale of a store. You learn not to take anything personally and as soon as I clock off I like to try and forget everything that has happened in a shift, then start the next one with a positive attitude.

  • Where is your company’s head office ?

    • +1

      Woolworths is in Sydney, Coles is in Melbourne.

  • What's the process if a customer tells a store member that they've spotted some spilled liquids on the floor?

    I once told a stacking fruits at Woolies and he pretended to look at it(spill was literary around 6m away from where he was) and then he started packing fruit again. Didn't clean up the spill/stand around it until it was cleaned/or even notify someone else in the store to come and clean it up.

    • That's bad. What type of spill was it? Generally we're not supposed to leave them unattended so you gotta get someone else to stand guard while you fetch cleaning apparatus.

      • It looked like some juice. It was coloured so definitely visible.

        Yeh I thought something like that would be normal practice. I should have taken that guys name and reported to HO

        • Probably better off having a quick word to the people at the service desk than raise it with HQ..

  • What would you have thought of you saw me split a transaction up and pay over 30 1 cent payments, and about 10 $5 gift cards at self serve, then proudly retrieve a 2 meter long receipt after?

    • Self serve? Not really an issue unless there's a queue of people waiting for a slot.
      On a register, on a busy afternoon, when we have huge queues? :-(

      • Self serve, no queue and I used the card only machine.

        What would you have thought though?
        One time, an attendant asked me if I'm okay.
        Another time I got told off lol.

        • I'm wondering about the 30 1 cent payments. Did you stuff around with a 5c coin or something so it rounds down to 0?

        • +7

          @Levathian: no, android pay promo last year, each phone needed 10 transactions per day to get the maximum entries into the promo.
          I was earning about $300 per phone per month on average. But to a casual observer, I probably looked mentally ill, hence "are you okay sir?" ;)

        • +1


          Nice work!

        • @idonotknowwhy: waddapro

        • @Levathian: At Coles I've found that on multiple occassions if my shopping totals to $5.07 or so and then cash rounds it to $5.05 and I feed in about $2 of silver, followed by a $10 note ($6.95 change) - it gives me $7? Effectively saving 7c :)

          Do you have any experience of the self serve checkouts doing this?

        • @pennypincher98: If you can get 5% off eGC,it saves more.

        • @Neoika: lol I'm not going to worry about 5% off eGC for 25 cents. It was three things. Not a big shop.

  • Do you envy the Aldi workers who get to sit down on the job?

    • +1

      Don't Aldi workers have to do like 4 jobs at once?

      • And stay back to complete jobs without OT pay as required by store

        • +4

          and you think Coles and Woolies don't get their staff to stay back without OT, cute..

        • @h4zey: 😂

  • I always notify the incorrectly scanned markdowns so that the cashier doesn't get written up over it.

    Do they get a strike if they scanned the wrong barcode (usually on mark down item where the original barcode is still partly visible)?

    I could have gotten so much free stuff with the Woolworth scanning policy but I feel very bad about it.

    • When you mark things down and print a barcode you're supposed to slap the sticker over the old barcode so it can't scan.

      I don't think a cashier would get a 'strike' because the markdown sticker was put in the wrong spot.

  • +1

    Whats the policy on baby formula? You see on TV a lot of people buying trolley's full. I thought 2 was the maximum?

    • 2 is still the limit I believe.

    • 2 is the maximum, but it's not hard to circumvent that rule.

      In fact, it's more of a PR move to allude people that they are "working on the problem", when in fact they're not. It's cheaper for the people to instill the thought of "at least they (Colesworth) are acknowledging the problem" with some notable fanfare than actually solving the problem with effort without it.

      After all, a business is still a business.

      • The Coles in my area definitely enforces it

  • WHY do the 2 supermarkets almost always have the SAME specials at the SAME time?

    Surely they must be colluding with each other right?

    • +2

      They do not collude with each other. However… I cant talk for both chains but specials are controlled by the suppliers like coca cola, smiths, cadbury and so on.

      They work on how many go through the registers. EXAMPLE Lets use coca cola for this example. Coke says to head office we will give you a buy price of $1.79 for 500,000 units sold, for a buy price of $1.69 you will need to sell 1,000,000 units and for a buy price of 1.59 you will need to sell 2,000,000 units. This means the warehouse cant just order 4,000,000 units to get an amazing buy price and then stores only sell 1,000,000 units as it wouldn't be fair for coke who have offered the lower price taking away from their margins.

      During big promotions the supermarket chain will expect suppliers to come and support the stores with merchandising, point of sale and tastings (If applicable). All at the suppliers cost to support the promotion.

      To wrap it all up we are all kidding ourselves if we think the supermarkets are lowering their margins to push someone else's products out of the goodness of their hearts. Oh and that can sometimes be a reason as to why they have the same specials at the same time.

      • +1

        one example of manufacturer discounts being abused from when i worked in a bottleshop in the 90s. CUB discounted Melbourne Bitter cans to try and compete with Tooheys Red discounts. the owner of my hotel was doing renovations to his public bar that had stalled and so had a lot of free floor space. we bought 3 semi trailer loads of MB cans, about 3600 slabs, which were stored and sold at normal retail prices over the next year. the last of it would have been well past best before dates by the time it sold.

    • They don’t usually. The odd one yes, but in general they are not on same promos in woollies and Coles at same time

      • Though either 24 or 30 pack coke will almost always be on special on any given week, at differing price points..

    • It is bad for supermarkets if they offer a discount at the same time as their competitor. If they collude then you'd expect them to offer discounts at different times.

  • Have any of your store managers come from the hospitality business allied with your supermarket? ie ALH Group Pubs and Woolworth's are aligned and run BWS and Dan Murphy's. I wondered if management career with either might lead to the other.

    • Not sure but plenty of ex-Coles, ex-IGA and ex-Aldi people work here, and vice versa. I'm pretty sure hospitality businesses would require a new application rather than a simple transfer..

      • I think you've just revealed you work for Woolies :) unless it's not a secret anymore? (I haven't read the entire thread)

        • Omg OP. I'll say it again(if you recall my previous analysis)… You are killing me =(

  • From looking at your profile activity, I think you work at Coles. Am I correct?

    • +2

      Definitely Coles - look in the RACQ thread!

      • That's moderately creepy :P

        I don't know why people care where I work so much, the internal stuff is very similar between the two.

        • Haha sorry! I worked for one of them in the past and was trying to pick it - you had some great misdirection going!

          Something I've always found weird is how little people know about the inner workings of a supermarket - as if inventory control is some wildly foreign concept.

          The latest one people rant about is plastic packaging of produce - do you not think the supermarkets would love to not have that added cost? There are reasons they use it, and it's all driven by customer demand and (in many cases fraudulent) behaviour.

  • Hi I always want to work as a cashier in supermarket. May I know how you get the job?

    • +1

      Apply online.. Don't bother handing in a resume.

    • +1

      Hi I always want to work as a cashier in supermarket.

      Our sympathies.

  • How do i get coles or woolworths to advertise in my magazine

    • No idea.

  • Could you get me a job?

    • +4


  • What can you do as a casual who doesn't get shifts at all now? I suspect it's because I've gotten older and more expensive, so I haven't gotten a shift since my birthday. :\ Would approaching other department managers or other stores work?

    • Hmm maybe try asking other stores? What department are you trained in?

  • What's the policy on people eating and opening stuff before. Paying for it?

    • Grey area, you can't prove they're not intending to pay for it at the checkout. Eating weighted items like apples/grapes is not good but I can't stop you.

  • Do Coles and Woolies deliberately Jack the prices up on fuel so they can discount it?

    Or any products for that matter?

    • +1

      Coles probably yes, Woolworths seems to be relatively cheap for petrol.

  • +1

    Woolies are bullies, Coles are moles

  • What do you see yourself doing in the next 8 years?

    • Hopefully I won't be here for another 8 years… I don't even want to make it to 9 years… I know people who have worked here 20+ years, god knows why.

      • It's a job that pays and some people don't have a choice.

        Everyone wants to get $100k+ a year but not many can get there without a tertiary qualification or trade.

  • +1

    Is there something you would never buy from the store because of a certain reason?

    • Not really, I prefer bread from non-parbake stores though.

  • if you know a paritcular item is 99% discounted at your competitor store 5 metres away, being a ozbargainer at heart, will you notify your customer when you walk pass them in the isle who is about to grab the item?

    • +1

      Nah but sometimes I'm about to mark stuff down and a customer will walk up and grab it so I'll offer to mark it down for them.

  • Is the moon landing fake?

    • +1

      Who cares. Is Trump an idiot?

      • Yes, Trump is an idiot. If he is standing next to Kim Jong Un, is he still fat?

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