How To Get Your Product into Coles and Woolworths

How To Get Your Product into Coles and Woolworths

You’ve been invited for a meeting with Coles or Woolworths but you’re not feeling totally confident. You’ve done a lot of preparation already (or maybe you haven’t started yet), and you want to make sure all the bases are covered.

You’ve come to the right place.

We’re here to help you get into more stores. This is how to get your product into Coles and Woolworths in 5 simple steps.

1. Dive into their strategy

Coles and Woolworths have different business strategies for the Australian market. It’s important to dive in and learn about those strategies so you can identify opportunities for your brand. To help you with this task, here are a few things you can do to become an expert on these two leading retailers.

Download the Annual Report: Coles Annual Report and Woolworths Annual Report

Both retailers publish their financial reports publicly. The reports include not only information about financial performance, but also strategic planning points for the next year. By reading these reports, you can learn about their priorities, predict their next product launches and, most importantly, identify how your brand fits their strategy.

For example, both retailers are focusing on organic and healthy food to meet growing shopper demand. As a result, Coles and Woolworths are launching their own organic brands on the shelf and reducing their stock of unhealthy food. 

If your brand isn’t keeping up with this shift, you might encounter more barriers to negotiate shelf space, price and other commercial agreements.

Woolworths' Health and Organic portfolio has doubled in size in one year.

Learn and estimate the size of the opportunity for your brand.

It’s important to estimate the size of your opportunity per region prior to the meeting. With this information, you can establish the minimum and maximum volume to negotiate. Without this estimation, you’ll have significantly less bargaining power. 

This table shows the total number of each retailer, broken down by region:

Coles 246 199 154 15 5 89 57
Woolworths 280 115 218 30 11 88 68

Stay updated with the latests news.

Both retailers are constantly on the news – sharing awards, projects and plans. Nothing looks worse than participating in a meeting where you’re not up to date with what’s happening around your retailer.

Here are some great sources to keep you updated with the latest news:

Bonus: our retail blog and Community Galleries will keep you updated on what’s happening on each retailer’s shelves.

2. Prepare well for your segment review or NPD meeting

Whether it’s a segment review or an NPD meeting, it’s important to bring relevant information to the discussion. Here are some topics you must include in your presentation:

  • Market and category analysis
  • Risks and opportunities
  • Brand performance (market share, distribution, facings and share of shelf)
  • Growth drivers for your brand (penetration, distribution, frequency, brand value)
  • Competitor analysis
  • Brand opportunities
  • Product description (NPD)
  • Product tasting or testing (NPD)
  • Communication plan and calendar

It’s important to support your points with data, but don’t overload your presentation with unnecessary information. If you can’t afford expensive retail data, you can support your arguments with photos or data collected from the field.

For instance, these photos are good evidence to support a discussion about Moccona Cappuccino compliance:

We talked to Ashley McMillan, the Head of Sales at Omnibrands and co-founder of Super Cubes, about the strongest selling point he had during his meeting with Woolworths. He said:

Global trends played a huge part and the Mintel reports including IBISWorld were invaluable; we already have strong core values and reasons why we do what we do and we felt they aligned well with what was needed inside Woolworths freezer category‘.

3. Go for a field visit

Field visits can provide valuable information about your brand and category. When you visit on site, you can see for yourself what’s happening in-store. If you have the opportunity, check out your brand’s planogram and observe how shoppers interact with it. 

The people at Super Cubes also went on field visits in preparation for their meeting with Woolworths. MacMillan says:

‘We believe research on all levels are invaluable; current and future trends, organic vs conventional, pack formats, price ranges and ingredient mix all played a huge part of our research’.

In an ideal world, you should observe for a few hours and collect the following data:

  • How many shoppers crossed the aisle
  • How many shoppers stopped at your category and brand
  • How many shoppers interacted with your brand
  • How many shoppers looked at the competitors
  • How many facings your brand have
  • How many shoppers bought your brand
  • How many shoppers gave up on your brand

This is a general shopper behaviour research framework. Visit a few stores and compare by week. The results will show you how you can improve the performance of your brand at different stages of the buying funnel. It’ll also give you a better understanding of your shopper.

This information will give you the knowledge and authority to make your point during the meeting.

The more data you collect, the stronger your argument will be. Ideally you should visit stores in each region to get a good research sample. See how this brand made their case by using photos and data:

Observe other categories during your field visit, especially ones that could potentially replace your product on the shelf. 

For example, kombucha and orange juice are not perfect substitutes; yet, kombucha has been taking space on the shelf from orange juice brands. You might not notice this unless you go for a field visit.

4. Be innovative

Innovation is key for every business and will definitely help you get your product into Coles and Woolworths. Both retailers have heavily invested in innovation by launching automated product replacement for the delivery market. This means there will be new ways to deliver to customers, new product portfolios and new store formats across Australia.

NPDs are key for strengthening relationships with retailers. Retailers embrace NPDs for three reasons: (1) they know shoppers spend more on innovations, (2) they have higher margins and (3) they place the retailer ahead of the competition.

Make your case based on incremental sales and profitability for both your brand and your category, and showcase the features that are innovative and unique.

Keep in mind, there are two kinds of innovations: disruptions and renovations

Disruptions change the status quo of a category. An example of this would be almond milk, which introduced a new segment in the beverage category. Renovations, on the other hand, involve minor upgrades such as new flavours or pack size. You see this a lot in the chocolate category.

Category disruption
Flavour renovation

Retailers tend to focus on disruptive innovations due to higher shopper demand, sales and profitability. But don’t make the mistake of overlooking opportunities for renovation.

Innovation at the point of sale is also valuable. Share with Coles and Woolworths innovative ways of displaying your brand. Below are good examples of display execution from Cadbury and Huon Salmon. They capture shoppers’ attention and increase visibility at the point of sale.

Cadbury's POS display - IGA
Huon's POS execution - Woolworths

Packaging is another great way to innovate and stand out on the shelf, especially if you’re not the category leader. Use colour, iconic images or pack format to differentiate your product. Retailers are receptive to packaging renovation, particularly if you’re entering the sustainable or organic space. Retailers will see added value in packaging they can proudly showcase on the shelf.

Simple and convenient packaging from Super Cubes' wholefoods bars

5. Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

Both Coles and Woolworths are on a strategic CSR journey. They are redesigning their business models, from suppliers and operations to marketing and sales. 

You’re more likely to have positive outcomes if your brand or product also resonates with CSR. For instance, Coca Cola is negotiating more shelf space by launching its new bottle made of 100% recyclable plastic.


These 5 tips will help you get your product into Coles and Woolworths. On the off chance your meetings don’t result in positive outcomes, your plan B should be IGA stores. 

IGA is part of Metcash Group, Australia’s leading wholesale distribution. Each store runs independently, so you’ll have easier accessibility and negotiation power.

You should also be aware that a new German supermarket chain is arriving in Australia. Kaufland is 15 times bigger than your average Aldi store and 5 times bigger than Woolworths or Coles. The new German retailer is poised to disrupt the current duopoly in the market. It’s estimated that Kaufland will open 20 stores by the end of the year.

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