As Woolworths continues to make progress against its four strategic priorities, the supermarket giant has announced during its first half-year financial results for 2014 (1H14) that its total online sales exceeded AU$1 billion during the 2013 calendar year — ahead of the full-year target.
The company also reported that online sales from continuing operations increased by 40 percent during the half year.
During 1H14, total group sales increased by 3.8 percent to AU$31.8 billion, while net profit was up 14.5 percent to AU$1,312.7 million, and total EBIT grew 11.3 percent to AU$2,048 million.
Contributing to this increase was the company's core supermarket division, which reported a 4.8 percent increase in half-year sales to AU$21.5 billion. It reported that the number of unique visitors for its online site more than doubled during 1H14, and more than 3 million items were delivered to customers each week.
At the same time, sales from its New Zealand supermarkets' online food site, countdown.co.nz, delivered double-digit sales growth for the half year. This contributed to the 2.6 percent increase in New Zealand supermarkets' sales for the half year to NZ$3 billion and a 0.7 percent rise in comparable sales – the second strongest quarter of comparable sales growth seen in the last 18 months.
On the hotel front of the business, Woolworths said it continues to improve its online presence with online enabled value websites, special online offers, an online booking service for accommodation, and advertising integrated into social media.
Woolworths CEO Grant O'Brien said the results reflect the company's progress over the last two years of transforming the business against its four strategic priorities, which includes becoming Australia's largest domestic retailer.
He also attributed the overall online growth to its acquisition of EziBuy, which "enhanced our online and direct retailing capabilities".
In reporting that it has 7.5 million Everyday Rewards and 1.8 million OneCard members, O'Brien said that data insights from its loyalty programs have also assisted with the transformation of the business.
"Through our investment in Quantium, we can better understand the needs of our customers and deliver a better shopping experience," he said.
Woolworths concluded that it expects net profit after tax from continuing operations to grow in the range of 5 to 7 percent, which will be subject to no significant deterioration in trading conditions.