Australia Post’s data science team has modeled a range of scenarios to help manage the record-breaking number of packages expected to be delivered in the lead up to Christmas.
The carrier's most conservative prediction expects parcel volumes will easily surpass the peaks already recorded through 2020.
So far this year, August was the biggest month in Australia’s online shopping history, up over 85 percent nationally and up 170 percent in Victoria year-over-year.
Online sales in August 2020 were 9 percent higher than the 2019 pre-Christmas peak - 31 days from mid-November to mid-December last year.
Looking ahead to November, AusPost expects Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales will be the busiest weekend of the year.
Australia Post's executive general manager for business, government, international Gary Starr shared the forecast during a presentation at the Online Retailer Conference.
“We are hurtling towards that biggest online shopping peak ever,” Starr said.
Now less than five weeks out from Black Friday, Starr urged retailers to consider starting their sales earlier to help “flatten the curve” and ease pressure on logistics infrastructure.
“We know that in recent years people have been using the sales to get a start on their shopping. But this year the sales will be the main shopping period," Starr said.
“People are shopping early and so it makes sense to start sales early where possible.
“Not only is this aligned with customers getting in early for fear of not getting their Christmas presents by Christmas, it can help to flatten the curve of the sale and create a flatter peak. This can ease some of the strain on your fulfillment processes.”
Starr also suggested offering gift wrapping because more shoppers will be shipping gifts directly to friends and family; and to reconsider shipping thresholds and delivery choices such as offering express shipping or different parcel collection options.
“Anything you can do to make this Black Friday easy for your customers will make for a great overall experience," he said.
Starr noted that at the end of September, e-commerce sales are up 75 percent year-over-year, versus a growth rate of 17.5 percent in 2019.
“This growth over the last seven months, while it has been really significant, it's presented a lot of challenges for the industry when it comes to supply chains and resilience. and we've been working with many of our customers to bolster their operations to deal with this influx," Starr said.