Posties detail e-commerce master plan

Australia Post will offer warehousing, fulfilment, payment, billing and delivery services to businesses and consumers, as part of its e-commerce strategy announced yesterday.

With a particular focus on online retailers and consumers, Australia Post has established warehouse facilities in Sydney and Melbourne to manage and deliver products as well as an online and offline bill-paying service where Web shoppers can pay at a local post office for goods ordered online.

"We are eliminating virtually all the paperwork and improving efficiencies and cost savings," said Alec Ceseli, Postlogisitics manager for Australia Post.

Kim Wigglesworth, Australia Post's e-commerce manager, said customers may choose to implement the total integrated solution (PosteDeliver) or only one of the four separate components - Postlogistics for warehousing, Post eParcels for delivery and tracking, Postbillpay for paying bills online or Pay it at Post, where customers can visit a post office to buy goods already ordered online. "We offer new opportunities and efficiencies for all businesses," Ceseli said.

According to Ceseli, Australia Post invested around $34 million in the project which included working with 150 people from 12 different suppliers. Around $26 million was spent on software and licensing fees, with payment technology provided by US-based CheckFree and the logistics e-commerce platform supplied by Interworld. Ceseli said $8 million was spent on setup costs for the warehouses, including security, electronics and systems.

While Australia Post could not quantify what percentage of its overall revenues are estimated to come from the new Internet services, Shane Morris, Postbillpay's manager, said it expects to start generating revenues in around three to five years.

"It depends on the take-up," he said. "Australians are typically early adopters. We think the take-up rates will accelerate partly because we're providing services."

Ceseli said with 4600 outlets throughout Australia and the establishment of 80,000 square metres of warehousing space, Australia Post is well ahead of any competitors in the market.

Ceseli added that the organisation is keen to offer solutions to both B2C and B2B customers. "We have a number of customers using solutions in the B2B space. There is no reason [the services] can't be used as part of some fulfilment services of CorProcure. It's something we've been looking at," he said.

Meanwhile, for e-commerce provider Interworld, the agreement with Australia Post represents its largest deal in Australia. Rick Milinski, Interworld's vice president, Asia-Pacific, said Australia Post selected Interworld from a tender process last year and is using the majority of components in the provider's Commerce Suite.

The only component which Australia Post "has not done much" with is Interworld's Web site building tool to assist merchants build sites, he said.

Current Australia Post Internet customers include Telstra, Coles Direct, SmartBuy and Bluemanna.

- Luisa Bustos writes for The Industry Standard

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