Australia Post is temporarily pausing its Parcel Point collections from the 4th - 7th September, in an effort to reduce the strain as online orders skyrocket. What does this mean for retailers? We asked the experts.
On Wednesday, Australia Post made the announcement that it would be temporarily pausing all Parcel Point collections across Victoria, NSW and the ACT. According to Australia Post, the backlog of parcels has reached peak Christmas levels, due to the ongoing lockdown measures across Australian states.
This pause, which will last run from September 4 to 7, is intended so staff can catch up on the backlog of parcels. “This temporary measure will allow us to responsibly clear record parcel volumes in parts of our network impacted by COVID-19,” shared the company. “Australia Post currently has 500 people in necessary self-isolation, placing increased pressure on our network, while we also manage flight restrictions, temporary facility closures, and parcel volumes as high as Christmas peak period.”
What Experts are Saying:
While this will not affect the states not currently in lockdown, many retailers are expecting to feel a strain.
Lee Hardham, CEO and Founder of Brauz:
“E-commerce has become a lifeline for so many retailers during ongoing lockdowns. The news that Australia Post will pause parcel collections for online retailers across locked down areas will have major ripple effects across the retail industry, impacting customer experience and potentially deterring sales,” says Lee Hardham, CEO and Founder of Brauz.
“The good news is there are ways that retailers can take distribution into their own hands whilst stores remain closed. Offering services like contactless click and collect, particularly technology that facilitates pick-up time slots, means retailers can reduce their reliance on postal and courier services. We’ve seen a lot of success with contactless click and collect during lockdowns.
“For example, Retail Prodigy Group (RPG), the master retail franchisee for NIKE Stores across ANZ, distributor of TOMS and retail operations partner for the Samsung Experience Stores, found its contactless click and collect average transaction value is approximately +50 percent higher than our normal ATV in stores.
“Many retailers are also using virtual appointments that allow customers to connect with staff in-store via Zoom to view items they are interested in and purchase via an integrated shopping cart. This can then be converted into a contactless click and collect sale and also helps to reduce instances of customers having goods delivered to their home and then returning them as it hasn’t met expectations,” Hardham tells Power Retail.
“This situation means that retailers will need to take a look at their customer touchpoints and find a more seamless shopping experience,” Hardham says. This can be via “new technologies that allow them to take more control over the end-to-end experience,” he says.
Jordan Sim, Director of Product Management at BigCommerce:
“Aussie retailers are facing insurmountable pressure as demand grows and supply chains creak, all whilst they are preparing for the busiest time of the year,” explains Jordan Sim, the Director of Product Management at BigCommerce. “The holiday period will be even more focused on online this year, given ongoing restrictions and considering many retailers now rely on the holiday season to make a heavy portion of their annual revenue.”
As Australia heads into the busiest time of the year, it’s vital for retailers to get their solutions correct to avoid any further disruptions moving forward. “Heading into these busy sale periods, consumers are going to be focused on cost, speed, and convenience,” he tells Power Retail.
“Now more than ever, it is vital for retailers to consider their ecommerce solutions to ensure they offer a variety of fulfilment options (such as flexible delivery times, postal-service courier alternatives, and click and collect) and payment methods, as more and more consumers hunt for the most convenient and cost-effective ways to shop online.”
Robin Marchant, the Head of Marketing at Shopify:
Robin Marchant, the Head of Marketing at Shopify, tells Power Retail that now is the perfect time for retailers to start planning their strategies for the Christmas season. “Recent issues around shipping delays coupled with an update that Australia Post will pause parcel collections particularly in lockdown areas will impact how the shopping season will pan out as we approach the Holidays. In light of this, it is critical that retailers start planning sooner than later as it is to be expected that panicked consumers will be doing their shopping earlier than usual,” he tells us.
“With Australian consumers increasingly concerned about delivery delays and limitations, having the right shipping strategy will be a crucial component giving consumers the peace of mind they need in these uncertain times. Retailers need to set clear expectations and be transparent about shipping delays due to COVID, the impact of peak volume, or any issue that may draw out the delivery time.”
Marchant tells Power Retail that there are two strategic levers that can positively influence trust from customers: transparency and honesty.
“From there, it is important to offer customers different shipping options to determine the services that best suit their needs given the circumstances. These options can include anything from choice of carrier, fulfilment methods like local delivery and curbside pickup. When customers know what to expect and are given control through ability to choose, retailers can ensure positive shopping experiences and conversion rates even amid unideal circumstances,” he explains.
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