THIS will be the year of “click and collect” for Australia’s $14.6 billion internet shopping market, with a growing number of shoppers buying online and going to stores or after hours convenience outlets to pick up their goods, says Julian Leach, the founder and commercial director of ParcelPoint.
"2014 is going to be a huge year for online shopping, which is growing at an incredible rate of more than $14.6bn a year," Mr Leach told The Australian.
"This is going to be the year that online shopping and offline shopping will really start to come together.
"Online shopping on its own is a useful service for a certain section of the population and shopping in bricks and mortar stores is also useful and convenient for another sector of the population.
"But, increasingly, these channels are starting to merge, with more people wanting to shop online but pick up their goods in a store. We call it click and collect."
Mr Leach said the “click and collect” market had grown rapidly in the past few years in Britain where it now accounted for almost half of some retailers’ online transactions, with customers who preferred to pick up the goods in a store rather than face the problems of home delivery and missed parcels.
He said an increasing number of retailers were giving their online shoppers a range of options to have their parcels and shopping delivered.
Founded in 2011, ParcelPoint now has agreements with more than 1200 outlets around Australia, such as chemists, video stores, newsagents and other shops open seven days a week where people can arrange to have their parcels delivered.
The company has deals with delivery firms such as TNT, and now has agreements with more than 50 online retailers which provide access to ParcelPoint outlets as a delivery alternative.
ParcelPoint’s minimum requirement is that the outlets which accept the parcels are open seven days a week. Mr Leach said most were open late at night, allowing customers to pick up their parcels after work or on weekends. The company has just finalised a deal with online retailer The Iconic, providing its onlineonly shoppers the option of using its Australiawide network for their parcel deliveries.
The Iconic is famous for offering a threehour delivery option, which has been popular with people looking for clothes to wear for a special weekend event.
Mr Leach said the ParcelPoint network provided online shoppers with another delivery network option. “The Iconic customers can now pick up their fashion orders at a local store convenient to them, when they want,” he said.
Under the ParcelPoint system, customers opt to have their parcels delivered to a certain outlet and receive an SMS when it is ready to collect.
Mr Leach said with the growth of internet shopping in Australia there was increasing frustration with home deliveries because of missed or lost deliveries.
"A survey we have just done shows that 64 per cent of online shoppers are frustrated by courier calling cards and missed deliveries," he said.
"And 39 per cent say they would shop online more often if there was no chance of a missed delivery."
He said most Australians did not have a secure place to get their parcels delivered, with more than 72 per cent opting to have their parcels left on their doorstop.
"This is despite almost half admitting that they were worried about security risk or weather damage to their parcels," he said.
Mr Leach said many big companies were now banning staff from using their offices for personal deliveries as the boom in online shopping had led to too many private parcels arriving at work places.
The ParcelPoint network is providing a rival to the locker system for parcel deliveries being rolled out by Australia Post, which has 30 superstores around Australia with parcel delivery lockers accessible on a 24/7 basis, and plans to open parcel delivery lockers in 250 locations to meet the growing demand for online retail and people wanting to pick up their parcels after hours.
He said ParcelPoint’s aim was to develop a network of 2500 to 3000 locations around Australia which would allow it to service most metropolitan areas.
Based in Sydney, the privately owned company is backed by several wealthy individuals, including Adrian MacKenzie, the former managing partner of private equity firm CVC Asia Pacific, the family of Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond, and Alasdair MacLeod, a former senior executive with News Corp Australia, publisher of The Australian.
ParcelPoint has also just signed a deal with Big W, which will use its delivery technology to service its customers who want to shop online but go into their stores to pick up the goods.
Mr Leach said this followed the success of “click and collect” with major British retailers such as department store chain John Lewis.
"It is often said that Australia is a few years behind the more mature markets such as the UK and the US, but with click and collect it feels like we are hot on their heels."
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