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Retail is Going to be ‘Hamstrung’ with New Restrictions, Says COO of CouriersPlease

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By Published On: August 3, 20200 Comments

E-commerce deliveries will continue, as Stage Four restrictions are put into place across metropolitan Melbourne. We sat down with Paul Roper, the Chief Commercial Officer at CouriersPlease about the new restrictions and how it may impact e-commerce and deliveries across Victoria. 

Daniel Andrews has informed all metropolitan Melbourne residents that the new restrictions will ensure that retail stores are shut, and are only available for Click & Collect and home deliveries.

“If delivery and courier companies like CouriersPlease are allowed to continue to perform on B2C deliveries, there’ll be a new surge in volume,” said Roper. “I think based on Mr Andrews’ announcement this afternoon, it’s clear that retail, in particular, is going to be hamstrung in terms of not being able to retail from the shops.”

Many retailers that have had to close their doors amid the new restrictions may be converting them into dark stores, Roper suggested. “We’ve seen a lot of those stores turning to dark stores and distribution centres,” he told Power Retail. Target and Kmart are some of the examples he provided, which converted to dark stores when the pandemic was first announced. “I’m assuming there’ll be a lot more of that kind of activity,” he said.

CouriersPlease ‘ramped up’ its fulfilment offerings when the pandemic was first announced. “We increased the requirements for home deliveries that are safe and contactless. We’re continuing to be well-placed to serve that market,” he said. While the courier company has been following ‘stringent’ requirements already, there are plans to up the ante for curbside delivery and contactless returns.

“Since COVID began, we maintained social distancing in our depots. We’ve changed the operations of our footprint with each depot to make sure we have enough space for our workers,” he explained. Further actions are in place for each of its drivers and sorters, including temperature testing and maintaining contactless delivery. “We temperature check the fleet every morning when they come in,” Roper told Power Retail. The default for CouriersPlease is now ATL (Authority to Leave), meaning that contactless delivery will continue as part of its normal business strategy.

“If the consumer is at home, the driver will stand back and asks for the person’s name and enters it in their scanner so they don’t have to hand the scanner over to get someone to sign for it,” he said.

As e-commerce continues to boom during the lockdown stages, there have been further developments and innovations introduced by CouriersPlease, including its Boomerang Returns platform. “This is a contactless returns service, so if someone buys something online and needs to return it, then one of our drivers will collect it from their door and maintain social distancing,” Roper told Power Retail.

While it’s unclear if these changes will alter the behavioural patterns of online shoppers, the safety protocols are put in place for now as a standard to keep the community safe. “It’s pretty much maintaining what we’re doing already,” he said.

“There’s still an appetite for signature on delivery, but I think he market has turned so dramatically and people’s tolerance for contactless deliveries has been increased,” he said. “So, potentially, it could be the ‘new norm’ going forward.”

“Certainly, it is helping us facilitate a much quicker delivery and less customer service issues, because we’re able to deliver faster and have less futile first shipment attempts, so I think potentially, it could stay,” Roper said.

Premier Daniel Andrews has instructed that workforces in factories and warehouses will be significantly impacted by these new changes, with staff numbers cut dramatically to reduce the impact of the virus.  While it’s too soon to tell the direct impact that this will have for CouriersPlease, the courier will be working with its customers to come to a conclusion and develop a forecast for the future.”

Any potential shortfall in staffing or volumes may be offset in a number of order levels, Roper explained. “It might balance out, or it might accelerate,” he said. “It’s very difficult to tell at this stage, but we’ll just continue to communicate regularly with our customers and continue to take their directions.”

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