By Damon Kitney | The Australian
The Australian courier firm backed by powerhouse Asian logistics group Singapore Post plans to roll out a new parcel pick-up system across the nation allowing its customers to send a package anywhere in the world from a residential address.
Couriers Please, purchased by Singapore Post just over a year ago for almost $100 million, will launch its new outbound delivery service following a raft of new investments on innovation as it works to become a genuine challenger brand in the e-commerce space.
“There has been a lot of research done on our new outbound product. It shows private individuals are still using the post office for outbound parcels, just standing in the queue and sending them out,” Couriers Please chief executive Brian Roberts told The Australian.
“No one has gone into that retail space to make it convenient for customers to send it from the convenience of home. For the consumer it has been a frustrating experience rather than something that can be done at their own convenience.”
It comes as the battle in the $5.3 billion business-to-consumer logistics market in Australia is intensifying as the likes of the Japan Post-backed Toll Holdings, DHL Express, Star Track Express and UPS all compete for market share against incumbent Australia Post.
FedEx is also set to swallow TNT Express’s Australian business as part of a mega-merger of the two global groups.
Australia Post has introduced free parcel collection lockers that are accessible 24 hours a day in 180 locations around the country in a bid to improve its service offering.
It is also considering allowing its 10,000 “posties” to do parcel pick-ups as well as deliveries at residential addresses. Toll chief executive Brian Kruger is ramping up his plans to take on Australia Post through newsagents using the insights gained from Japan Post, with a view to building Toll’s share of parcel deliveries locally to 30 per cent within 18 months.
Toll is already learning from Japan Post’s more advanced delivery systems. At the same time the Wesfarmers-owned Officeworks and Fastway Couriers have developed the Mailman service.
Rival Woolworths has a partnership with eBay that allows shoppers to select their local Woolworths or Big W store as one of the delivery options for parcels.
“The B to C market in Australia is 90 per cent Australia Post. We have been growing at three times the market, being fuelled by the e-commerce segment and the investment we have put into it,” Mr Roberts said.
“Most of our competitors see the B to C as a pain point. So they limit investment to it. But if you flip it around and say you want to invest, it is a different mindset and you drive volume to it.”
He said Couriers Please had spent $10m this year on its B to C strategy and would treble that spend over the next 12 months.
Its customer base includes 40,000 small-to-medium sized businesses and last year it launched in Albury, Coffs Harbour, Cairns, Perth and Darwin.
With the new outbound service Couriers Please will deliver packages domestically, while SingPost and global freight giant DHL International will deliver parcels overseas.
In June last year SingPost bought a 30 per cent stake in Hubbed, an Australian company which arranges parcel deliveries and returns using a national network of more than 680 newsagents.
In partnership with the Mark Bouris-led listed technology group TZ, Couriers Please is also fast-tracking the deployment of POPStations, parcel lockers allowing customers to pick up their delivery at a newsagent 24 hours a day that can be controlled via smartphones.
TZ, which had a troubled history before Mr Bouris became executive chairman in 2009 and its share price is still trading at only 6.6c compared with the $1 mark when he took over, supplies the locking system for POPStation lockers being rolled out by SingPost in Singapore.
They are branded by SingPost as P-POPS.
“Singapore Post and Couriers Please have positioned themselves very nicely to offer a suite of alternative delivery places and they have done it at ridiculously fast speed. “Singapore Post do things fast, they do them efficiently and they do them big.
“Now you can send things away from these places as well as getting them delivered,” Mr Bouris said.
“The consumers now dictate what technology they require. Unless you provide that technology they will not use your system.”
He said that over time POPStation lockers would become virtual post offices.
“In Singapore, these POPStations are unmanned.
“Singapore Post is a great exponent of the internet of things.
“The intelligence that sits within these locks and the information that comes out of the usage of these lockers allows them to predict behaviour and offer a better product to consumers.”