More and more Australians are shopping online, with demand having risen dramatically over the course of the pandemic, and much of that growth having been sustained across the Christmas peak period. Australia Post reports that 81% of households shopped online in 2022, and that November was the biggest online shopping month in Australian history. Unfortunately, the success of online shopping has also made parcel theft much more common too.

The bottom line impact of ‘porch pirates’

Australia saw the second-largest increase of parcel theft in the world, second to the UK, according to  The Global Parcel Theft Report 2022, which found that more than a billion packages are stolen around the world every year. 3.6 million of those happened in Australia in 2021/22. Over a third of Australians are affected by parcel theft or loss in their lifetime, with those in Adelaide the most vulnerable – 28% of the respondents from Greater Adelaide had experienced a parcel theft in just the 12 months leading up to the report.

Unless retailers and carriers can work together to prevent theft, consumers will continue to lose out on their purchases – a cost which ultimately accrues to the retailer, as they pay for replacements and potentially lose customers after a poor delivery experience.

14% of Australians said that they were now reluctant to make new online orders because of their concerns around parcel theft, which highlights how much retailers could benefit by offering these anxious shoppers a secure means of delivery.

How are retailers safeguarding the customer experience?

Thankfully, there are solutions which can improve the customer experience at the same time as preventing theft, such as delivering parcels to local pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) points, which not only guarantee the security of parcels but also give consumers the option to pick up at their convenience, rather than waiting at home for delivery – or risk the parcel sitting on the porch for a would-be thief to take.

As a bonus, deliveries to PUDO locations (for example, Australia Post’s Collect & Return network) result in lower emissions,since deliveries get consolidated into a smaller number of drops, resulting in fewer miles driven per parcel. 

In general, retailers can find it hard to track the customer experience in the last mile – it’s a vital part of their business, but it’s always outsourced to a parcel carrier, which can sometimes create a barrier blocking retailer visibility of issues. One way for retailers to check the impact of delivery is to run Net Promoter Score surveys and segment results by the delivery options they selected at the checkout, which can highlight high-performing channels or suggest when a problem is occurring with specific delivery options if the NPS drops.

Avoiding the anxiety

While parcel theft causes customers concern, it remains a relatively low-frequency event for the time being. However, one incidence has a wider knock-on effect on consumer confidence and the likelihood of repeat purchases, so retailers still need to make sure they’re offering a secure delivery experience. Enabling alternative delivery options on their checkout offers customers peace of mind, and can have significant NPS benefits beyond ensuring that more parcels make it to their rightful owners.

Justin Dery is CEO for Asia Pacific at Doddle.