With most Australian retailers relying on e-commerce to keep themselves afloat, delays to the postal and courier systems are causing huge disruptions.

For example, earlier this month, Australia Post paused its parcel collection from online retailers across locked down areas for several days to address its backlog. This resulted in many retailers being unable to meet customer experience expectations and missed sales opportunities due to the lengthy delays on any new orders. 

Despite hurdle after hurdle, not all is lost for retailers; there are ways to take distribution into their own hands while stores remain closed, according to Brauz CEO and founder, Lee Hardham.

“Offering services like contactless click and collect, particularly technology that facilitates pick-up time slots, means retailers can reduce their reliance on postal and courier services,” Hardham told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“Retail Prodigy Group (RPG), the master retail franchisee for Nike stores across ANZ, distributor of Toms and retail operations partner for the Samsung Experience Stores, found its contactless click and collect average transaction value is approximately 50% higher than our normal ATV in stores.

“Many retailers are also using virtual appointments that allow customers to connect with staff in-store via Zoom to view items they are interested in and purchase via an integrated shopping cart. This can then be converted into a contactless click and collect sale and also helps to reduce instances of customers having goods delivered to their home and then returning them as it hasn’t met expectations,” he added.

Hardham said the lockdowns and uncertainty around the road ahead is forcing retailers to take a hard look at their purchase options and cater to the unique shopping experiences the current situation demands. “The good news is, new technologies are available that will allow retailers to take control over their end-to-end customer experience and help to future-proof their offerings.” 

Shopify managing director for Asia Pacific, Shaun Broughton agreed that delivery delays continue to bite – not only are consumers impacted by longer wait times but retailers are bearing the brunt as they grapple with unhappy customers and a backlog of online orders.

“As retailers prepare for a busy shopping season and take potential future delays into consideration, it is critical that shipping strategies are re-assessed to ensure the customer journey is protected as much as possible,” Broughton told Retailbiz in a recent interview.

“Vitally, retailers need to be transparent with their customers around issues that may extend delivery waiting periods. This will ensure customers have set expectations around the delivery of their online orders, and not be left in the dark about any changes or service disruptions.

“In addition to building customer trust with clear messaging and proactive updates around delivery, addressing customer needs with different shipping options can help nurture a positive shopping experience. By providing options for customers to choose from, especially in times where delivery standards are disrupted, retailers can give customers more control over their shopping experience and choose options that best align with their needs.”