Apartments parcel lockers: Australia Post sees eCommerce acceleration

Apartments parcel lockers are growing in demand as Australia Post reports a “significant” eCommerce acceleration. The Australia Post industry eCommerce report 2021 shows an unexpected surge in growth. The report connects the acceleration to the events of 2020. 

The 2020 growth in demand for apartments parcel lockers relates to the need for contactless deliveries. Australia Post’s report also shows that deliveries to apartment buildings are increasing faster than those to houses. The lightning pace of eCommerce is unmanageable for apartments without parcel lockers. An estimated 50 percent of those deliveries fail. 

Australia Post reports “record numbers” in eCommerce growth

Australia Post reports Australian’s shopped online throughout 2020 in “record numbers”. The eCommerce report states almost 9 million Australians made an online purchase “at some point during the year”. More and more bricks-and-mortar stores established online operations. This “increased engagement” for 2020 grew our online purchasing by 57 per cent YOY.  Australians spent “a record $50.46 billion online.”

The report puts together 2019 and 2020 delivery data recorded by the Australia Post Group. Australia Post’s 2019 forecast was that 12% of consumer spending would be conducted online by 2021. However, sales reached 12% of total retail just for the month of March 2020. Former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate had said, “Our growth in parcels from July to September was more than the growth for the entire year just two years ago.” By Christmas time, online sales exceeded all-time records. 

Online sales during 2020 were forecast to remain at 15 per cent. However, total 2020 figures show online sales accounted for 16.3%. Rodney Boys, Australia Post Acting Group CEO and Managing Director said 16.3% was “a figure we did not expect to see until about 2023”. For comparison, Savills reports the impact of COVID-19 accelerated European eCommerce growth by “one year”. Australia set three new online shopping records as eCommerce growth surged.

Surge in ecCommerce attributed to pandemic

The report attributes this surge in eCommerce to events caused by the pandemic. Boys said the events in 2020 “altered the trajectory of the Australian eCommerce industry”. The initial national lockdown saw online purchases rise to key sales-period levels. Victoria’s second 2020 lockdown then triggered online sales growth that eclipsed those figures. 

Looking back at the year, Australia Post’s report said: “Each month saw an average of 1 million additional households buying online when compared to 2019.” It highlights the two key factors involved in this accelerated growth. First, many shoppers entered the online market for the first time. Second, regular shoppers were buying more frequently.

The pandemic caused a wave of shoppers to enter the market for the first time. Almost 1.5 million Aussie households made their first ever online purchase in 2020. In total 9 million households shopped online in Australia last year. That’s around 82 per cent of Australian households compared to 73 per cent in 2018. 

The report also showed 52% shopped online more frequently in 2020. People shopped more online as the year progressed. Almost 2 million made more than four online purchases in December 2020 alone. This is believed to show they became more comfortable with eCommerce. 

Apartments see most eCommerce growth

Apartments saw the most eCommerce growth across Australia in 2020. Deliveries to apartments increased faster than those to houses, up nearly 80 per cent YOY. This could be because the more highly populated metropolitan areas were locked down with more frequency.

Retail trade in metropolitan areas has evolved with the lock downs. For example online retailer The Iconic have been running same-day Saturday evening deliveries to Sydney apartments. 

Apartment living is also on the rise. Data from the last census showed 10% of Australians live in apartments. The Australian Bureau of Statistics stated “There is now around one occupied apartment for every five occupied separate houses in Australia”. In April last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia released “The Apartments Shortage” report. It details a supply shortage of apartments “most severe in the inner suburbs of Sydney”.

Apartments parcel lockers are critical

Apartments parcel lockers are once again in the spotlight with Sydney’s extended lockdown. Apartments without smart parcel lockers simply cannot cope with current health concerns and the surge in eCommerce. Growing parcel volumes have also increased the number of visits from couriers throughout the day. Smart parcel lockers at the building are now a critical component of safe, smart apartments

Contactless deliveries are now a government recommendation for high-rises. However, contactless delivery without secure parcel lockers at apartments has had unfortunate, unintended results. Australia Post, Couriers Please, and many other courier services tried to be helpful and suspend requirements for physical signatures. However, it meant couriers were forced to leave parcels unattended in apartments foyers and on doorsteps. Parcel theft greatly increased in apartments without smart parcel lockers. 

Demand for Groundfloor™ apartments parcel lockers doubled during this time. Groundfloor™ smart parcel lockers allow 24/7 automated management of all deliveries and collections. They accept deliveries from any delivery company. That means all parcel deliveries, mail, dry-cleaning, cold items and more can be picked up contactlessly at apartments. Groundfloor™ is now automating deliveries in luxury apartments across Australian cities, and recently launched at The Ed Apartments in Auckland.

The need for social distancing and working from home in apartments has created new behaviours that are here to stay. Through the early months of 2021, Australia Post continued to see around 5 million households shopping online each month. Tim MacKinnon Managing Director & VP eBay Australia and New Zealand says: “…we expect to see elevated eCommerce levels for the foreseeable future.”

Australia is currently the 10th largest ecommerce market in the world by revenue. There is much room for growth after so many years “behind” the rest of the world. Chris O’Brien, CBRE’s head of capital markets for industrial and logistics, told the Financial Review there was “unprecedented demand for assets strategically positioned to accommodate fulfilment centres and last mile distribution hubs.” Parcel deliveries to apartments and apartments parcel lockers need to be a focus as our eCommerce industry matures rapidly. 


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