In the last 18 months, Australian shoppers have been doing an unprecedented amount of online shopping. Over nine million houses shopped online last year – a trend that is expected to grow further.

As they have become more accustomed to online shopping, Australian consumers have developed their preferences and increased their expectations of retailers, meaning retailers have to work harder and offer more convenient, rewarding and enjoyable shopping experiences to stay ahead of the curve of rising expectation.

Providing customers with choice, greater flexibility and increased security around parcel delivery and returns goes a long way towards increasing customer satisfaction during their post-purchase experience. Australia Post’s Collect & Return network, powered by Doddle, offers shoppers the ability to select convenient local pickup and drop-off points for their online shopping and returns. Having more options, especially those which don’t rely on consumers being at home to receive a delivery, makes it easier for shoppers to find an option which suits their lifestyle.

An estimated 63% of addresses belong to houses and 30% to apartments, according to Australia Post. Missed deliveries are a pain for anyone, but they’re particularly problematic for the apartment dweller, as these buildings frequently lack adequate access and secure storage for home deliveries, and in very unfortunate cases can experience parcel theft.

Missed delivery frustration goes beyond a single unhappy moment – it can be damaging to long-term loyalty and generate bad reviews or other negative brand impressions. Having the option to avoid a missed home delivery by having items delivered to local post offices, retail stores or parcel lockers can provide insurance for retailers against the woes of a missed delivery.

Today, Australia’s biggest and best retailers are integrating out-of-home delivery options into their checkouts. Take Oz Hair & Beauty, for example.

Oz Hair & Beauty began offering Australia Post Collect & Return as an alternative delivery method to their customers in December 2020 and have seen an eight percent increase in the company’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) since January 2021. In July this year, Oz Hair & Beauty received a perfect NPS of 100 for the Collect service – a true testament to the growing popularity of offering out-of-home delivery to consumers.

Nearly half (49%) of Australians have recently stated that additional collection points are important and customers have stated they have a better experience when they choose a collection point themselves. This data suggests that there has been a recent shift in consumer opinion on delivery options, and retailers who aren’t competing with equivalent alternative options at the checkout are at risk of reducing conversion and decreased customer satisfaction.

Consumers now have the option of collecting parcels from over 5000 locations across the country through the Australia Post Collect & Return network. Locations range from post offices, 24/7 parcel lockers to local supermarkets, pharmacies, bottle shops and pet shops – which provide shoppers with a wider pick-up or drop-off window, instead of the usual 9-5 business hours.

In addition to the choice, convenience and security benefits, offering integrated out-of-home delivery options helps to make the local postal network more efficient, as parcel deliveries and returns are consolidated to central locations across the city. Even better, both consumers and retailers benefit from being able to reduce their carbon footprint.

With fewer deliveries being sent to individual homes, and consumers trip-chaining their errands and parcel pick-ups or drop-offs to nearby locations, emissions are reduced as fewer kilometres are driven per parcel.

As Australia continues to open up and we become increasingly busier visiting friends and family, travelling or splitting time between the home and office, implementing integrated out-of-home delivery options in 2022 will be crucial for retailers to stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands and preferences of the ever-evolving online shopper.

Justin Dery is CEO for Asia Pacific at Doddle.