Woolworths has announced it ended its 2021 financial year on a high, reporting group net profit after tax reached just shy of AU$2 billion, following a 23% uplift on last year's AU$1.6 billion.
For the period ending 27 June 2021, group sales came in at AU$67 billion, 6% higher year-on-year, of which its Australian food business contributed AU$44 billion.
Unsurprisingly, its group ecommerce sales jumped a whopping 58% to AU$5.6 billion. Breaking that down, its Australian food ecommerce sales delivered through WooliesX, the digital arm of the business, increased by 75% from AU$2 billion to AU$3.5 billion during the full year period.
The Australian retail giant attributed the growth in ecommerce sales to the ongoing investment it continued to make in its digital and ecommerce channels. These investments included upping its direct-to-boot services to 629, increasing same-day-delivery stores with a one-hour delivery window to 425, and announcing plans to deliver its first automated online fulfilment centre in Auburn, New South Wales.
During the year, the company also managed to increase weekly visits across its web and app platform by 26% to just over 12 million, as well as increased its Everyday Rewards members by 6% to 13.1 million.
"Improving customer satisfaction with their digital experiences, in particular helping inspire, plan and shop safely remained the focus. Key upgrades to experiences included personalised lists, the launch of Fresh Ideas for You on the Woolworths App, addition of new recipes and launching in-app push notifications," Woolworths said.
Additionally, Wpay was launched as a standalone payments business in June, with Woolworths expecting it to process 1.2 billion transactions per year, including settlement services, in-store terminals, custom gifting and loyalty initiatives and reporting and analytics.
Woolworths also noted that it bumped up its stake in data science and analytics firm Quantium during the year. For AU$223 million, Woolworths increased its shareholding from 47% to 75%, after it initially purchased a 50% share of Quantium in 2013 for approximately AU$20 million.
"We continue to invest in ecommerce capacity to meet the needs of our connected customers, who are increasingly shopping online. In New Zealand food, two-year average growth momentum has continued to improve in F22 with some benefit to sales from recent lockdowns," Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said.
He also added that in the next financial year, the company would continue to "invest more in physical ecommerce capacity to meet customer demand, the online systems to support this growth and an improved digital customer experience".
"In summary, we are excited to be embarking on a new era for Woolworths Group and are focused on continuing to progress our key strategic priorities," Banducci added.
"We are also focused on leveraging our core capabilities and platforms to grow our food and everyday needs ecosystem by expanding into complementary areas that deliver more value and services for our customers. While we are excited by what the future holds, we are realistic about the challenges that lie ahead in the next few months as we support vaccination and respond to the volatility and challenges that Delta is causing on a daily basis."