Australia Post has launched one of its most significant delivery programs in recent years, Shipster, ahead of the arrival of internet juggernaut Amazon.
The move, which will offer free delivery, will be welcomed by local retailers who are preparing for the increased online shopping competitions.
Shipster works in a similar way to Amazon Prime, where customers pay a small monthly fee, but get many delivery benefits. Already 40 Australian retailers have signed up to Shipster.
According to Australia Post, online shopping has grown from 11.5 per cent to 15 per cent in the past 12 months, and the service is predicting the busiest year for online shopping “we’ve ever seen at Australia Post”.
The program complements the Australia Post deal to provide 500 lockers at Woolworths supermarkets to make the delivering and collection process run smoothly for customers.
Australia Post chief executive Christine Corbett said the Shipster service had been launched just in time for “savvy shoppers to get organised for Christmas”.
Amazon is expected to be operating from its Australia base at Dandenong South, Melbourne, early next year.
Analysts warn that retailers are still completely unprepared for the impending arrival of retail juggernaut Amazon.
A new survey by digital marketing agency DataSauce, founded by former head of digital at Catch of the Day, Tzvi Balbin, showed that while 90 per cent of respondents know that Amazon is on the way, only half (48 per cent) knew about the Amazon Prime offering – a premium service that offers shoppers free and fast shipping.
“The Amazon Prime offering is more advanced than almost any of the services offered by retailers in Australia. This means that even those who have upped the ante with quicker delivery times may still struggle to compete with this service and match the level of investment,” Mr Balbin said.
Australia Post will offer online shoppers free shipping on eligible purchases at more than 40 of Australia’s biggest online stores – including Booktopia, Myer, Target, Harvey Norman, Cotton On and Showpo.
From now until January 1 shoppers in metropolitan Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane can join Shipster for $9.95.
Ms Corbett said members will receive free shipping whenever they spend $25 and over at participating stores, as well as free delivery of one Deliveroo order each month. Members will then have their shipping costs automatically deducted on eligible purchases at the checkout.
“We know our customers love to shop online and this Christmas we expect more gifts to be bought online than ever before.
Amazon Prime enables customers to pay an annual fee of about $100 for free and fast delivery.
Mr Balbin said about 60 million US households have signed up for the Amazon Prime service. Amazon also offers a service called Amazon Now, which promises to deliver products such as groceries in under an hour.
“Both of these premium services have the potential to blindside the efforts of Australian retailers,” Mr Balbin said.
Myer’s chief digital and data officer, Mark Cripsey, said: “We know that more and more of our customers love shopping online at Myer, so we are delighted to be able to provide free shipping on the products that our customers love.”
Myer has also accelerated its commitment to digital by bringing Android Pay and Apple Pay to the store via the new Myer Credit Card. Myer is the first Australian retailer to provide Android Pay and Apple Pay on a Visa card in Australia.
The card, issued by Macquarie Bank and using Visa payment technology, lets Myer customers conveniently access their card from their smart phone’s digital wallet and when combined with the Myer Credit Card App.