Parcel delivery volumes are surging to heights not seen since Christmas last year, leading small businesses to increase their communications with suppliers and customers to avoid lengthy shipping times.
Australia Post has attributed the spike in parcel delivery volumes to extended coronavirus lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria, which have prompted more Australians to shop online while trading restrictions are in place. Australia Post is responding to this increased demand by hiring more than 4,000 staff nationally, with 3,500 of those new hires being delivery roles.
Russell Lamb, founder and owner of Ecodownunder, has noticed delays in Australia Post shipping times and says “it’s obvious that their workload has gone up significantly”.
“We’ve definitely noticed delays and we understand,” Lamb tells SmartCompany.
“It’s obvious that their workload has gone up significantly and you inevitably have other issues that come with new staff.”
For the owner of the eco-friendly bedding and bathwares store, longer wait times are not a major issue because most of his deliveries arrive within 24 hours. This means that if a delivery is delayed by one to two days, customers are not too inconvenienced.
Lamb’s main concern, however, is that deliveries from suppliers are more likely to be delayed.
Ecodownunder sources 30% of its goods from local businesses, which are made up of mostly wool-based products, while the remaining 70% are cotton products from India.
Tough lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have affected operations at the factories of his local suppliers, and have in some cases caused delays of more than a week.
Lamb says these issues create more work for his team because they demand more communication with suppliers and customers to manage expectations.
“So much of it is communication, if we know what is happening we can adapt,” he says.
In a statement, Australia Post said that the vast majority of parcels are still arriving on time.
However, the pandemic has created challenges for international shipments due to fewer passenger flights reducing air freight capacity and the reliance on overseas postal and delivery services.
In response to these global supply chain issues, retailers have begun preparing earlier than usual for Christmas trading.
Ecodownunder has already built up its stock levels by 50% in preparation for Christmas, and is increasing its engagement with suppliers in India to ensure it has access to shipping containers.
“Our lead times have doubled in India, and now that we know that we can plan for it,” Lamb says.
Lamb says the cost of a 44-foot shipping container is now US$8,000 ($10,900), eight times what he paid two years ago.
“That’s going to feed through, and result in the cost of goods going up,” he says.
“There’s going to be a lot of stuff this Christmas that will be more expensive than it was last year.”