Remember that famous book and television series by Terry Pratchett called "Going Postal" set in a fantasy world where one unfortunate man takes on an old style post office to compete against the larger provider of a telecommunications service - his solution - disrupt convention.
It’s a growth story that won’t go away as one industry falls and another rises. Who are we talking about? Postal. We all know that more and more of us are buying products online either as a matter of convenience or as a result of preferential currency conditions but do you know how much that growth actually is? Well, according to one white paper published by Polish heavyweight InPost e-commerce sales are expected to hit above $1.8 Trillion globally.
The United States remains the dominant e-commerce market although China is picking up as more people hit the middle class spending brackets. The same is true for high volume population bases in developing countries such as Indonesia and India.
The trick is that the old infrastructure around traditional postal services isn’t quite cutting the mustard and this can be seen time and time again as companies such as Australia Post begin asking regulatory authorities to give them the ability to increase the cost of letter delivery while winding back the regularity of delivery.
One company that is changing and disrupting this is InPost and, as we have reported before, the way they see opportunity unfolding is through giving consumers the ability to pick up and drop off packages in places that are close to where they work, live and play.
As InPost points out:
“A perennial problem for courier services is the high rate of failed deliveries — increasingly nobody is home to receive deliveries during working hours and workplaces are balking at the flood of personal deliveries. The alternative — to leave packages on doorsteps — has exposed buyers and sellers to problems of theft. Furthermore, like postal operators, couriers are encumbered by the ‘last-mile’ problem — the disproportionately expensive final stage of delivery. All of this makes courier delivery relatively inconvenient, inefficient and expensive.”
“In recent years, “Click & Collect” points have circumvented some of the problems faced by courier and postal companies and consequently have become increasingly popular with consumers. However, pick-up times are still limited by the “Click & Collect” points’ opening hours. In the United States, some Amazon Lockers are available 24/7 but the network is simply too small to be a viable choice for the majority of buyers. As Amazon Lockers only serve goods purchased through their own platform and the network is small, the idea of using self-service parcel lockers doesn’t even occur to the majority of American e-consumers’.”
While traditional services fall into the cut and austerity way of thinking to survive, InPost is making investments in building infrastructure in some of the most unlikely of places – car parks and shopping malls – something that is not lost on larger competitors in Australia thanks to a deal between eBay and Woolworths. Retailer Woolworths believes more than one third of shoppers who visit one of its supermarkets or Big W chains to collect a purchase made on eBay will also take time out to do some grocery shopping or buy clothing as well, after forging a deal this morning to join forces with the nation’s biggest online retail site.
Woolworths’ general manager, marketplace, Emily Amos, told The Australian while it was too early to know yet how successful a new joint venture signed with eBay this morning would be in driving sales at its own stores, experience from Woolworths’ other “click and collect” services showed there was a significant boost to store sales from the extra foot traffic.
“We do have some stats from our own business so we have been running Big W and EziBuy pick up in supermarkets and a significant proportion of them (shoppers) are walking in and purchasing other products, buying their groceries at the same time, so we are confident it will work, but it’s really the beginning so we don’t actually know yet how it will go,” Ms Amos said.
The question is – how are you taking advantage of this prime sector in need of much more disruption?
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