Parcel firms innovate as Christmas looms

By: Rob McKay


Australia Post at Woolies and Toll unveils pop-up hubs as Fastway Couriers launches Blu Couriers

Parcel firms innovate as Christmas looms
How Toll’s pop-up delivery hubs will appear at Wesfield shopping centres

 

The lead-up to Christmas has been on parcel delivery managers minds with three firms launching new developments.

Australia Post has linked with Woolworths to install at least 500 24/7 collection and returns parcel lockers in supermarkets.

Heavy hitter Toll has taken its presents presence to selected eastern state Westfield shopping centres with pop-up delivery hubs.

And Fastway Couriers has rolled out its Blu Couriers on-demand system in Sydney and Brisbane to help handle the Christmas delivery rush.

According to Australia Post managing director and group CEO Ahmed Fahour, eCommerce parcel service innovation is essential as the market for it grows.

"Australian shoppers spent $20 billion online last year and this Christmas is expected to be the busiest ever for online shopping – with more than 60 per cent of all Australians expected to buy online," Fahour says. 

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci underlines the attraction of linking grocery and parcels delivery.

"We've seen strong year on year growth of our customers shopping with us online, with many choosing the convenience of our click&collect service to pick up their shopping from our stores on their way home," Banducci says.

For Toll, the pop-up delivery hubs are "designed to simulate our busy operations which come complete with miniature Toll delivery trucks, will be open seven days a week at centres in Bondi Junction (NSW), Doncaster (VIC) and Carindale (QLD)".

According to Toll Global Express consumer and ecommerce general manager Luke Condon, shoppers are demanding lower prices and greater convenience for parcel deliveries across both traditional and online shopping.

"The pop-up hub is a first for Toll and we are excited to bring shoppers greater flexibility, better pricing and access to our vast delivery network capabilities," Condon says.

"Feedback from shoppers at the pop-up hubs this week has been overwhelmingly positive. With prices as low as $10 to ship to most locations in Australia, demand has exceeded our expectations

"Toll will continue to look for opportunities to innovate in the Australian parcel delivery market.

"We see enormous opportunity to improve the retail experience through better logistics solutions in both the traditional and digital space and that is where we are focusing our investment and innovation.

Toll is well-placed to meet demand for the surge in Christmas deliveries having invested more than $320 million in new warehouse facilities across Melbourne and Sydney over the last 18 months. 

"The investments have boosted Toll’s parcel delivery capabilities to process up to 24 parcels per minute."

Toll says it has increased its delivery fleet up to 30 per cent in key locations for the peak period, and increased staffing by 150 per cent to ensure on-time delivery for customers. 

It will look at expanding the pop-up delivery service to additional retail outlets during future peak periods such as Christmas and Easter.

Fastway CEO Richard Thame says its Blu Courier innovation allows Fastway’s courier franchisees to up-scale quickly to accommodate peaks in demand while providing a flexible work option for Australians.

"Following the success of our pilot program we anticipate in the next 12 months over 1000 Australians will take advantage of the flexible working style of Blu Couriers, with the jobs targeted to people wanting to work when it suits them like university students, parents between school runs and people looking for extra income," Thame adds.

The company says coping with surge periods is one of the biggest challenges its independently owned and operated franchisees face, with Christmas the main period of overwhelming demand.

The Blu Courier system aims to solve this challenge, providing additional resources.

Thame says Blu allows "a flexible opportunity to earn some extra cash at times that fits into people’s lifestyles.

"Our Blu Couriers will be fully trained and operate within the security of the Fastway Couriers delivery network.

"We know from our successful pilots in Sydney and Brisbane that, in addition to solving a major problem for our couriers, there’s very strong appetite for work with flexibility and that’s exactly what being a Blu Courier provides."

Meanwhile, Toll has acknowledged that increasing market competition has its parcels services providers, such as Ipec, on their toes.

"While the parcels segment is certainly tough right now, we employ some of the best people in the industry and we are working to ensure our service offerings are well placed in the market," Toll group director corporate affairs Andrew Ethell tells ATN.

"In recent years we have made large investments in our network with new facilities and operational improvements boosting capacity at our major depots.

"The business is working efficiently in the peak period leading up to Christmas to get parcels delivered around the country.

"We are focused on meeting our customers' needs, in this peak period and beyond.

"Of course, we could do with more customers and our sales teams are busy right now signing them up."

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