By Aimee Chanthadavong

Australia Post has faced a historic decline in letter volumes but has managed to achieve a pre-tax profit of $103 million for the 2009-10 financial period.

According to David Mortimer, Australia Post Chairman, the postal corporation saw a 4.2 per slip in mail volumes that was affected by the global shift towards digital communications.

He said in a statement released last week that the electronic substitution is now affecting mail volumes worldwide.

In order to overcome the downfall, Laine Harris, Australia Post spokesperson, told Retailbiz that in April the Board identified four key priorities as part of the company’s Future Ready business renewal program – postal services, retail services, distribution & express services and eservices – that will assist it to remain a financially sustainable business.

“Aside from postal services, it was rational to have three other complimenting businesses that would bring in equal revenue stream. Distribution & express services involves such things as logistics and we went into a joint venture with Qantas for their express post service,” she said.

“We also have our retail business service unit, which is leveraging on more than 4,400 outlets Australia wide, and we wanted to not just be seen as a place to come to just send letters. We also provide access to a range of other services, such as banking as many people now come to the stores to pay their bills, as well as act a shopfront for a range of government agencies for the purpose of passport applications,

“Our eService strategic unit is where we plan to engage with our customers in the digital space. Our philosophy is that we will drive everything we do physically digitally too. We also have plans to launch an online retail store in 2011 as we very much want to capitalise on the online shopping phenomenon.”

Taking advantage of the growing digital world, Australia Post has also looked at multi-channel promotions as alternate ways to engage with customers.

“To leverage our 4,400 outlets and enable customers to remain engaged with us on a digital level, whether it be through Australia Post’s iPhone application or the release of mobile-enabled website, as well as recently partnering with Microsoft for the recently a launch of its Office 7 operating platform, where we were one of the first applications featured ,” Harris said.

“It’s really about the convenience to provide the largest range in the way our customers engage with us and know they do a lot of things they do in store online. From searching postcodes to calculating the cost of sending a parcel, viewing and tracking parcels internationally and domestically and paying bills.”

The financial results also revealed that Australia Post has seen a strong performance in the parcels and logistics portfolio with 16.8 per cent volume growth for eParcel service for the year.

Taking advantage of the growth, Harris said Australia Post, in partnership with eBay, provided its ‘click and send’ service to eBay members.

"The strong Australian dollar has had a direct impact on the incredible amount of parcels that are being sent into Australia,” she said.

“The ‘click and send’ is a service that is already available and allows the online eBay trader to conveniently send the buyer the parcel to the buyer from their home. The service allows the trader to inform the buyer they have won the purchase through to printing out an online mailing label through to tracking the journey of the parcel.”