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Logistics & Fulfilment

Workplace deliveries: Online retailers focus on flexibility

The rise of online shopping has changed many things about the lives of consumers, none more so than where and when the thousands of packages flowing out of major distribution centres everyday should be delivered.

For those working full time the answer to this question has inevitably been to receive office deliveries, a convenient alternative to having to stay home and guess when a package is coming, or risk receiving the dreaded ‘sorry we missed you’ card – also known as the bottom of the customer experience barrel.

A recent survey of 1,013 Australian adults commissioned by CouriersPlease found that 50 per cent of employees are getting their online shopping delivered to the workplace.

The trend is unsurprisingly being driven by people under the age of 30, 62 per cent of whom said they have at least one or two parcels delivered to work each month, compared to 37 per cent of the broader sample group.

The uptake is, at least theoretically, great news for online retailers and logistics companies, who stand to benefit from lower marginal delivery costs associated with well-organised office delivery en masse, relative to the challenges of last mile delivery in sprawling city suburbs.

In a survey conducted last year, CouriersPlease said 82 per cent of online retailers believe that being able to offer flexible delivery options, such as office fulfilment, will encourage consumers to purchase more online.

However, despite how popular office deliveries have become among employees, a surprising number of employers disapprove, with 29 per cent of employers unhappy with the office delivery trend, with many opting to ban the practice all together.

CouriersPlease chief executive Mark McGinley says larger companies such as banks or multinationals are struggling to deal with the volume of parcels coming into their mail rooms, alongside added security concerns associated with unidentified parcels, and have been turned off.

“It’s clogging up mail rooms, they have mail staff distributing letters and documents throughout the building and then suddenly they’re delivering cases of wine,” he says.

Industry stakeholders are now rushing to work with large employers and office landlords to address employer concerns, as formalised processes for e-commerce deliveries become more common across the private sector.

Picking up productivity

For Catch Group’s head of marketing Ryan Gracie, office deliveries have become an important part of providing customers with a convenient offer.

“Without question it’s hugely popular for people to get their packages delivered at work,” Gracie says. “It’s more relevant that business owners and corporations start to embrace the fact that more and more people are shopping online.”

“If these businesses are trying to keep their staff happy…the number one thing they could do to keep them happy is allow them to have their packages delivered,” Gracie adds.

Catch Group has a designated room in its Melbourne offices for e-commerce deliveries, whereby a receptionist collects all parcels and sends out an email each day informing staff when their orders have arrived.

“We don’t have to run around during or after work hours, productivity doesn’t drop,” Gracie says.

“In terms of productivity what would be worse – having someone leave at lunch time to go to the post office to pick-up an order or go to a room downstairs to pick up the order.”

Faster options

McGinley says larger companies are also looking towards designated lockers as a solution to confused couriers, overworked mailroom staff and security hazards.

“Companies are starting to invest in lockers, we’re talking to a lot of companies now that want to put lockers in as part of the facilities for their staff,” McGinley says.

“Lockers will be fundamental moving forward for these buildings – it’s just self-help after that.”

Designated pickup lockers have the added benefit of reducing the time last-mile couriers spend trying to work out what specific processes each building has for deliveries, allowing them to avoid things like occupational health and safety induction processes.

McGinley says that as delivery speed becomes faster, locker-based office delivery will be an important efficiency in the retail supply chain that can deliver convenience for customers and margin for retailers and logistics companies.

The rising popularity of office deliveries is also an opportunity for retailers, as incoming packages become easy referral opportunities to inquisitive, or even envious, colleagues.

Fast-fashion businesses like The Iconic have seemingly mastered this practice by telegraphing their brand on packaging clearly, helping it to achieve a net promoter score between 88-90.

Gracie says Catch treats its boxes as “mini billboards” for its brand and includes Club Catch fliers in all orders as a relatively low-cost customer acquisition method.

“Our box is a little mini billboard to us, it goes around the country and through many hands,” he says.

“They’re sitting there at Australia Post or in an office reception, we want that logo to be as in people’s eyesight as possible – it’s on the box many, many times.”

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