Empty fridge when you get home? Melbourne found a solution.

Melbourne’s new click & collect airport shopping: our verdict

Know that feeling when you fly back home from a business trip or a well deserved break to come back home to an empty fridge? Yes, but there are tons of take-away options you say? Well, that’s true but then you’ve had someone else’s cooking while you were gone. Plus, eventually you’ll need to fill that fridge up again. So, what to do?

The clever guys at Woolworths, an Australian shopping giant, found the solution: an airport grocery collection service. The country’s first service was launched last week at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport (MEL). And since that just happens to be our home airport, we put it straight to the test.

First, on Thursday last week, we went online and ordered everything we thought we’d need for a really good, healthy breakfast (think Muesli with fresh fruit, milk and yogurt) the day after we would arrive back to Melbourne the following night. Instead of choosing our home delivery address we were able to select the Melbourne Airport collection pick-up point and choose our pick-up time window. In our case we chose it to be between 5 and 9pm that Friday. With our scheduled flight landing at 7.50pm, this seemed ideal. So apart from some issues with the address validation upon registration (which isn’t even needed for this service), the experience was straight forward and easy to complete.

Then on Friday, the day of our flight back to Melbourne, a few things happened that could have impacted our shopping experience. First up, Woolworths informed us that the particular milk we ordered was unavailable. We could have gone back into the shop and ordered a different one, but since we also ordered yogurt, we decided not to change it. Depending on your menu plans, being informed of an unavailable item on the day of your collection isn’t ideal – especially when you travel and have limited ways of accessing the online store to change the order. However, after asking, Woolworths reassured us that you are able to allow your “personal shopper” to select a substitute when you select that option upon checkout.

The second slight complication was that we chose to fly on an earlier flight. Now our flight landed one hour earlier than the anticipated time, meaning 6.50pm. Since the pick-up window was between 5 and 9pm, this wasn’t an issue. But if you arrive before your anticipated window, it would mean you may have to wait for your goods. The other case is probably more frequent though, when your flight is delayed. In that case Woolworths says they would get in touch with you and organise a delivery to your home address or arrange for another pick-up location depending on your preference.

Woolworths airport pick-up at Melbourne Airport

Then there was the actual collection. Once landed I headed outside the terminal and walked roughly in the direction indicated on the confirmation email I received. In Melbourne the collection point is located on the side of the parking complex, next to the Park Royal Hotel. The closest terminal is the Qantas terminal T1. But even from the Virgin Australia terminal T3 it didn’t take more than 5 minutes to walk there. Once there a friendly Woolworths lady asked us for our name and some ID before a trolley with our groceries was wheeled out. To our slight surprise and due to the way the groceries are picked, you are presented with quite a number of bags each containing only a small amount of items. But on the plus side, the lady offered to wheel the trolley outside to the car. Car? Which car? No, in our case we wanted to take the Skybus back into the city. We have to say that “wheeling out” offer is perfect if you get picked up by someone or can do a quick drive-by though. In our case, well, let’s just say we were glad not having gone overboard with the shopping!

So overall, our experience was very good. A service like the one from Woolworths will certainly be highly appreciated by frequent travellers, busy families or airport workers alike. That’s a thumbs up from us!

[Feature Photo from Flickr - Some rights reserved by Julius - Laid Back]