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Coles Supermarket Case Study: Developing Best IS Strategies


Task: Develop a Coles Supermarket case study advising to Coles’s CEO on developing the best information systems strategies that would help Coles to improve its business performance and competitive advantage.


This Coles supermarket case studyis going to discuss the strategy, management and acquisition of the Coles Supermarket. It is a food retailer company and is quite popular in Australia. At the beginning, it discusses the historical background of the Australian food retail company, Coles. It also includes the milestones that are covered by this company. After that, major challenges are identified and discussed along with the current IS strategies in the last five years including the present year. Then the competitors of the Coles, in the Australian company, are properly discussed and analyzed. In the later section, the differentiation between the Coles and Woolworths are also made. The importance of IS/IT strategy management place is given and two strategies are proposed regarding the information strategy. Out of the two, the best strategy is selected efficiently and every point is going to be properly discussed because of which it is considered as the best strategy and why it should be implemented here to solve the problems of this company. This report on Coles supermarket case study is also going to discuss or propose the best time to introduce the new strategies and also the reason why the selection of the best strategy is appropriate. This report will clear all the queries that are asked and will also provide the best advice to the CEO of the Coles to improve its performance in the business and the competitive advantages.

Historical Background of Coles:
Coles Supermarkets was established in the year 1914. It was founded by GJ Coles for the purpose of reducing the cost of living in Australia by introducing a store. The first store of this company started in Victoria on 9 April 1914. Looking into the milestones, it is observed that from the year 1914 till 1929, the company was opened as a shop with a very good caption ‘Nothing over 1/-’ as a brilliant marketing strategy (Xu and Lee, 2019). Following it, from the year 1930 till 1939, profits of the company were donated in various charity organizations in a huge share. From 1940 till 1949, women of the country especially the married ones joined the company as a symbol of women empowerment and the cosmetic products are also launched. Following it, from 1950 till 1959, various other kinds of stores are branched in several regions and new warehouses were also made for fast product delivery ( 2020). From 1960 till 1969, it became more popular in Australia and it also launched the freestanding supermarket which was a new concept for the country. Following it, from 1970 till 1979, it started stretching its outlets and started inventing new products according to the demand of the customer. From 1980 till 1989, it started gaining profits and several headquarters were made from new companies under this ( 2020). Apart from this, liquor was also included as a part of business products. Then, from 1990 till 1999, it started to modify itself and work faster, easier and more efficiently by including new technologies and so online business started. From 2000 till 2009, various service stations were established and the online business started gaining its profit. Recently, from 2010 till 2018, various improvements were made by the company to get the highest customer satisfaction, engaging more and more people and motivating other small business startups.

What are the major challenges in last 5 Years (including present year) discussed in this Coles supermarket case study?
The competitive threats faced by this company, in the last five years which also includes the present year, are the entry of the new companies. Already the company is competing with other companies by decreasing the cost of the products, innovating new items and by setting up of the new retail stores across the country. Along with that, with the entry of these new companies, it is creating more pressure on these companies and is, therefore, facing a huge amount of loss (Stranieri, et. al., 2018). Also, powerful suppliers demand the cost of raw materials is increasing. Therefore it is creating effects on the profits of these grocery companies. Other than that, the bargaining power of the customers is also increasing because the customers buy the products from the market with the motive of getting the best quality in cheaper rates (Coles, 2020). Also, the substitute products are increasing with much cheaper rates and the rivalry with other companies can also create a diverse effect on the company which is harmful in the long term.

Current IS Strategies:
The strategies of the Coles Supermarkets are changing the speed, innovating new products and also describes the layout of their delivery of products for their customers and teams. They mainly prioritize three strategic pillars to make profits which include smart selling efficiency and changing the pace through stores which are technology-led and the supply chain, sourcing strategically, optimizing the networks and formats, inspiring the customers by providing them with good quality of food and drink solutions for making lives easier (SM and AM, 2016). They also have a strategy to appreciate their team members, suppliers and community by taking care of the wellbeing and safety, it is also a great place to work for the employees that would increase engagement, maintains generational sustainability, all work together in unity and also encourages the partners for innovating new products ( 2020).

Coles Competitor IS Strategies:
It is evident in this Coles supermarket case studythat one of the most efficient competitors of Coles is Woolworths Limited. The strategy of Woolworths Limited is focus on their customer firstly. To achieve this we have six priorities: First customer, then team & culture, connected and convenient ways to shop, differentiate its food customer propositions, evolve its drinks business, values of the portfolio can be unlocked, according to the expectation of the customer, support and stores are kept quite simple and with proper security. These strategies are working efficiently. This can be seen by looking into the increasing profits of both companies (Moser, 2019). These companies not only concentrate on innovative and quality products but also capture the customer’s attention by fulfilling their needs. Hence, it can be seen that they are making profits and are working profitably by implementing these strategies they planned and are executing for years. The strategies which they adopted will work because they are consistently changing their pace, efficiency and innovation of their products according to the market change (Kasanagottu and Bhattacharya, 2018). They maintained consistency through smarter selling by changing its pace, optimizing the market and so on. They also started making healthier items which the customers are demanding and are also focusing on the efficient use of natural resources (Lanyon and O'Handley, 2020). Considering the scenario depicted in this section of Coles supermarket case study, one of the suggestions to improve is to increase the production of natural goods and to get an alternative material for the packaging of the grocery goods as the plastics are harmful to the environment.

Importance of IS/IT Strategy Management Plan:
The IS/IT strategy management plan formulates the strategies and plans them accordingly. The implementation of this plan is also taken care of and all the related projects and programmers are managed by it. It also uses new modified applications by getting several changes in the business, deploying the technology and also delivering the IT services of them. The competence is also developed by this plan which has the capability of digital transformation and the capabilities are used effectively by the resources and the structures. These are needed by the overall governing framework (Grimmer, 2017). The intended business is also realized by developing the strategies efficiently and the outcomes of this plan are various investments and expenditures. From this, we also get to know that these processes are taken place within an organizational context and should be updated continuously to portray the changes that are made in the business and the overall environment. These formulas which are made related to strategy creation are done by combining various elements like creative ideas combined with innovative concepts and the thinking capacity of the company which should be informal. Apart from this planning is essential in a formal way to grab all sorts of opportunities. All these are properly merged and constructed(Harada, Masumoto and Okada, 2020). Lastly, appropriate usage of the plans is ensured to direct it strategically by adapting flexible changes through the requirement of feedback or control mechanisms.

Can you suggest two IS strategies to solve company’s problem outlined in this Coles supermarket case study?
Apart from being the most popular supermarket across Australia, Coles Supermarket also faces lots of problems in the market. One of them is an online shopping system that is the e-commerce website of the company (Devin and Richards, 2016). It has been noticed by the company that the online business is facing a varied type of problems and they are day by day doing into the lost track. The online market is not as popular as the outlet stores and customers don't prefer buying fresh goods from online stores without checking. The products that are visible on their website are also not available sometimes and thus the customers get affected by it and lose interest. The other reason is the employees of this company sometimes create conflicts between them and thus the entire company gets affected and the speed of production also decreases if they face these kinds of problems (Dai et al., 2016). To solve all these kinds of unnecessary problems, the System Acquisition Method is used. Various kinds of advantages are derived from this method to solve the problem of the company. Reducing the redundancy in data is one of the advantages of this method. Along with this, the errors are also reduced, the consistency of the solution is also increased moderately, and data accessed have a relatable amount of integrity which is high. Data can be accessed and modified according to the company, the storage area of data can also be reduced and the cost of retrieving all types of data is reduced efficiently (Byun, 2017). There are a total of three types of sub-methods noted herein Coles supermarket case study which includes planning the enterprise resources, software which is considered as commercial and the software which is specially made for the customers to be used by them. Out of all three of them, only the first one is taken as a strategy in this method. Processes which are streamlined in business and increase productivity are considered as the advantages of the ERP method (Bruijn, 2018). Various products are made available as per the customer’s demand by this company and all the sales-related processes are described properly in the form of a flowchart. Services can be ordered as per the criteria of this flowchart and then the requisition form is made available to complete the purchase. After that, the approval is verified accordingly and if the answer is positive then it will be taken to the payment section with various modes of payment and then the product will be delivered as soon as possible within the given time specified by the company from where the customer is buying and as mentioned in the report it will be the Coles Supermarket.

Another problem identified in this Coles supermarket case study which is faced frequently by the company is related to the System and Frauds. The problems of the company under this category are the conflicts that are caused among the employees whom the company assigns and have a diverse kind of natures with the increasing number of employees and is suggested to be solved efficiently in lesser time, the price of the company’s products which are comparatively higher than the other competitor companies of the market and because of which few customers can afford it. The services that are provided to the company are costlier and the clients find it unaffordable. The share of the company increases moderately and the competitors face problems because of it. Also apart from all these, fraud cases can arise in the company which ultimately makes losses in the company. To resolve this kind of problems, various software packages can be adopted and implemented by the company which primarily deals with the clients and the transactions can be made easily and with proper safety. Various types of accounting packages are there and some of them are Xero, Quickbooks, etc. In this company that is Coles Supermarkets mainly uses Xero to efficiently run the business and various advantages are there that are provided by the organizations. These advantages include clients are supported in very less time, financial reports are provided, collaborations are made extremely easier so that no one will face problem understanding it. Every kind of situation, especially the worst ones are supported by the Xero software, It is also a piece of information that is to be provided and that is the name of the parent company of Coles Supermarket is Wesfarmers and is standing in the third position. This is just after Woolworths.These are the two strategies that are mentioned in the report and explained in details how these strategies solve the problems that are faced by the company.

Best Strategy:
The best strategy among these two outlined in the present context of Coles supermarket case study is the use of the System Acquisition Method, to solve the first problem that was creating problems. This is the best strategy because it has several advantages that are derived from this method to solve the problem of the company. Reducing the redundancy in data is one of the advantages of this method. Along with this, the errors are also reduced, the consistency of the solution is also increased moderately, and data accessed have a relatable amount of integrity which is high(Bosso and Kumar, 2016). Also, three types of sub problems are discussed which are described in details and they are as follows. Out of all the three, ERP is used and is described in proper details along with the flowchart. Because of the use of flowchart, it is easier for the company to implement it by understanding the problems and its related solution via these kinds of flowcharts which is very vital to work and also most importantly to solve the major problems that are face by the company. The problems related to this and also the varied solutions related to these steps are discussed properly, which can easily solve the problems faced by our selected company, Coles.

Best Time to Introduce New Strategies:
Although these strategies can be applicable to implement it anytime, they are mostly professed to be used at the beginning of the ten year’s plan. As the historical background is described, we can notice that, after every 10 years, the strategies are updated and changed accordingly (Boesso and Kumar, 2016). So, to modify the strategies that are already applied, to solve the problems of Coles, this can be proved to be the best time and will benefit the company in the long run. Also, if both the strategies, by chance, fail to work, there are other strategies too, which the company can adapt. But, it is made clear that among these 2 strategies which one is the best and the time to introduce it. Both of these strategies are efficient enough to work with and also the time decided will be the best and is decided both the strategies as only one is to be used by the company and the other one will be as a backup strategy so that in case the first one fails, which is mostly not possible to fail but still, it is kept to be used as a part of incorporating the work efficiently and executing it safely. Thus, the starting of the ten years of duration of planning is preferred as the best time to introduce the new strategies in this company.

Therefore, this Coles supermarket case studyhas clearly described the problems in detail that are faced by the Coles and two strategies that can be used for solving the problems faced by it. From the report, we can get all the basic information related to the milestones that this company has crossed to reach its height. With the major challenges faced in the class five years, including the present year also, the root causes of the problems were found. The two strategies which were suggested in this report are the System Acquisition Method and adoption of Software packages. Out of these two, anyone is considered a backup strategy while the other is in use. It is found that Coles uses Xero, which is a system package that is used for accounting purpose to prevent fraud and fake transactions. It is also mentioned that the System Acquisition Method is considered as the best strategy as it uses flowcharts to describe the problem and how to use it. Lastly, it also explains the right time to adopt these strategies which are at the beginning of every ten-year plan, after crossing another milestone. Hence, it can be concluded that in this Coles supermarket case study, every point that was asked in the assessment, are properly researched and are provided in details to make this report informative and to provide the CEO of the Coles, the best advice that is needed on developing the best information systems strategies.

Bosso, G. and Kumar, K., 2016. Examining the association between stakeholder culture, stakeholder salience and stakeholder engagement activities.Coles supermarket case studyManagement Decision, 54(4), pp.815-831.

Bruijn, G., 2018. The Relevance of Porter's Five Forces in Today's Innovative and Changing Business Environment. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Byun, J., 2017. Why is LEGO so Successful? : Porter’s 5 Forces Analysis. Journal of Korea Research Association of International Commerce, 17(4), pp.43-64.

Coles, B., 2020. Coles Facing Supply Chain Challenges Due To Coronavirus Crisis. [online] MHD. Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2020]. 2020. The History Of Coles - 100+ Years Partnership With Australia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2020]. 2020. 17 December 2019 COLES TAKES NEXT STEP IN DIGITAL. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2020]. 2020. Our History | Coles Group. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 September 2020].

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Devin, B. and Richards, C., 2016. Food Waste, Power, and Corporate Social Responsibility in the Australian Food Supply Chain.Coles supermarket case studyJournal of Business Ethics, 150(1), pp.199-210.

Grimmer, L., 2017. The diminished stakeholder: Examining the relationship between suppliers and supermarkets in the Australian grocery industry. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 17(1), pp.e13-e20.

Harada, K., Masumoto, K. and Okada, S., 2020. Distance to supermarkets and dietary variety among Japanese older adults: examining the moderating role of grocery delivery services. Public Health Nutrition, pp.1-8.

Kasanagottu, S. and Bhattacharya, S. 2018. A review of metro, target, &woolworths global business strategy. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology. 9. 293-302.

Lanyon, S. and O'Handley, R., 2020. Relationship between Toxoplasma seroprevalence and lamb marking in South Australian sheep flocks. Australian Veterinary Journal.

Moser, C., 2019. Book Review: Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Justice and the Global Food Supply Chain. Organization Studies, 41(7), pp.1046-1049.

SM, A. and AM, Z., 2016.Enhancing Accounting Information Systems to Facilitate Supply Chain Management between Supermarkets/Suppliers: The Case of Saudi Arabia.Journal of Accounting & Marketing, 5(2).

Stranieri, S., Orsi, L., Banterle, A. and Ricci, E., 2018. Sustainable development and supply chain coordination: The impact of corporate social responsibility rules in the European Union food industry. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 26(2), pp.481-491.

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