Australian small businesses will now be able to send parcels to New Zealand at a cheaper rate, but also access customer databases and information as part of a new partnership between the two countries’ postal services.
The initiative, spearheaded by Australia Post, is part of the organisation’s $1 billion investment to upgrade its parcel services and modernise the existing postal network – the majority of its business now comes from parcels.
“I think what is being understood is that the needs of the commerce industry are quite different…and that’s why we need such a broad program such as this,” Australia Post head of parcel and express services Richard Umbers told SmartCompany this morning.
The new partnership allows businesses access to a combined network of customer data, logistics and market insights, along with direct marketing and fulfilment support, “needed to turn leads into sales”.
Cheaper parcels are part of this package, with small businesses now able to send items weighing up to 2kg for a flat rate of $15 anywhere in New Zealand through Express Courier International.
The initiative goes both ways – New Zealand businesses can access these services for Australian customers as well.
Umbers says the small business community has been at the heart of Australia Post’s transformation.
“The sweet spot of this has been in the small business program, and this is bringing to that sector services which actually enhance their ability to trade and make money.”
The Australia Post transformation is a huge initiative. With billions of dollars put into modernising the postal network, the organisation has spent months updating its tech systems and streamlining postal procedures.
Umbers says some of these initiatives are under wraps, but an iOS and Android initiative is expected to be announced shortly.
“What we’ve been doing is investing in behind the scenes tech to barcode all of our products and then bolt-on additional value-add services as well,” he says, adding that as more businesses move into e-commerce, these types of services become more important.
Such change hasn’t come easily. Businesses have complained of higher rates for some services as Australia Post attempts to make money while dealing with the huge influx of parcels.
In April, Australia Post announced higher charges for some customers in reaction to the “challenging business environment”.
The flipside, Umbers argues, is that these services will provide more opportunities to improve sales.
“This isn’t just about delivery, it’s about access to market insights and customer data for the New Zealand Post database, which is 1.9 million customers – in a country of only 4.4 million.”