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In August last year, Woolworths opened its first Dark Supermarket in Australia – a 7,000sqm dedicated internet distribution centre – in Mascot, Sydney, and is now considering opening in Brisbane and Melbourne. It’s larger than an average Woolworths supermarket, and has added dock space to allow the operation of multiple delivery trucks. According to JLL’s QLD Industrial Director Gary Hyland – the opening of this first Dark Supermarket is the beginning of a new trend which affects the industrial sector. “Dark Supermarkets are a sign that the way consumers consume has changed, and continue to change. The online grocery buying phenomenon is here, and it’s here to stay. As a result, we will see Dark Supermarkets take up space in industrial precincts – particularly in warehouses close to key markets,” he said. “This new type of use for traditional industrial sector property is exciting, and represents a potential new era.”The typical Dark Supermarket looks like a normal supermarket – a large warehouse space packed with products of all types, shapes and perishability. But there are no customers. Online orders are fulfilled fast and effectively by pickers or “personal shoppers” who can work day or night shifts, and have open run of the aisles without having to navigate checkout queues or in-store ‘noise’. It means order deliveries happen quickly, whether they be Dark Shelf to the Door (delivery serviced buying) or the Click and Collect option (where consumers collect themselves). Mr Hyland said while online food and liquor buying still lagged well behind apparel and consumer electronics, it was growing, and fast. “This gap between online retail sectors is closing – online food shopping has the momentum. Given population figures, and the propensity Australians have for online shopping (being one of the world’s leading online shopping markets) we see Dark Supermarkets as rolling out nationally over the next few years and this has a significant flow-on to the industrial sector. “According to data, Woolworths’ online grocery shopping app has been downloaded more than 3 million times and it has 4 million unique visitors to its site each month, making it the most-visited online food and liquor site in Australia. This is a huge flag to fly for the future of online grocery shopping in this country,” said Mr Hyland.
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