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Delivery firms beef up operations ahead of Christmas

insideretail.com.au
Dean Blake

Delivery firms around Australia are investing big into their capabilities heading into the Christmas season, as the country braces for another holiday at home.

This weekend, Australia Post is introducing a number of new measures to keep its delivery system coping with levels of demand not seen since last year’s Christmas trade, and is undergoing a “hiring blitz” to boost staff numbers to facilitate weekend deliveries.

The business has already launched a number of pop-up facilities to help with processing the massive influx of online orders, driven by beleaguered, locked-down Aussies, and will hire another 3,500 fulfilment staff to man the fort.

Likewise, on-demand delivery service DoorDash has partnered with Shippit to offer an ‘instant delivery solution’ to retailers in lockdown ahead of the holiday season.

“Given the three-fold increase we saw in same-day deliveries during 2020, it’s clear today’s customers aren’t willing to wait and we expect that trend to continue,” Shippit co-founder Rob Hango-Zada said.

“That’s why we’re pleased to announce DoorDash is now available on the Shippit platform, giving merchants more choice over who they partner with to better meet changing customer expectations.”

The partnership will unlock the ability for customers to select ‘same-day delivery’ through eligible retailers, with DoorDash’s white-label delivery offering doing the work.

Many customers have, at this point, gotten over the initial hump of trying online retail, and given the continuing spike in online sales seen across the industry, it’s fair to say they haven’t been put off the experience.

But what happens when stores reopen?

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants to open New South Wales as soon as possible, having noted that September and October will be difficult, but that putting in the hard yards now could lead to an easier November and December: with a goal of having the state open by Christmas.

State leaders across Australia have pushed back at Gladys’ targets, stating they’ll put people outside NSW at risk, but Peter Allen, chief executive of Westfield-owner Scentre Group, backs Berejiklian’s plan.

Yesterday, Allen said that based on what has been seen in other states and countries, once lockdown is lifted people will rush back to centres to shop in person.

“Our centres are really key in terms of social infrastructure where people are able to engage not just with retailers but with other businesses and other customers,” Allen said, according to the AFR.

But, it’s Scentre Group’s focus on ‘living centres’ – community hubs that feature entertainment and lifestyle options just as heavily as a retail footprint – which will likely drive this boost. You can deliver a retail experience, but a massage or social dining experience doesn’t translate.

“We’ve moved away from just selling stuff to also selling experiences… some 43 per cent of our space, you actually have to experience on site, whether that’s leisure, entertainment, food, dining, health, [or] wellness activities,” Allen said.

“It’s really important we are providing that because we are competing for people’s time.”

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