Parcels 24/7: Sendle sets out to beat Auspost's network

While parcel postage may not seem like a popular late-night activity, in the race to win e-commerce businesses in the on-demand economy, timing is everything.

"It’s all about convenience and it’s all about choice. We've been testing our drop-off locations and have seen amazing traction with the 24/7 ones at BP," Sendle founder James Chin Moody says.

The delivery challenger raised a fresh $20 million in January to "set our sights bigger" and now Sendle wants to have more parcel drop-off sites than Australia Post's post office network by 2020.

"We are all about choice in a market where there hadn't been any choice before," Chin Moody says.


Roll out begins

The company has been targeting new business customers through the expansion of delivery sites which it has expanded in a partnership with logistics company Hubbed.

The startup says it now has 600 places across Australia where business customers can drop orders at all hours of the day and night for delivery.

Sendle says it will have 1,000 sites active in a few months' time. It still has thousands more sites to rollout before it beats Australia Post, though: the national post carrier has 4,356 post offices, according to its 2018 annual report.

Australia Post also has more than 350 parcel lockers available 24/7 and in 2018 highlighted a $1.2 billion investment in its post office network, which helps deliver 1.3 million parcels a day.

An Australia Post spokesperson said its business customers received services like flexible returns and parcel pickups in metro areas for up to 50 parcels at a time.

"We continue to invest in new innovative ways to help our customers access their deliveries faster, including through our fulfilment start-up service Fulfilio," the spokesperson said.


Fulfilio is another option aimed at processing parcel orders as fast as possible, allowing businesses to sign up to have their stock stored in warehouses connected to Australia Post.

While Sendle seeks to grow its drop-off network by thousands, other on-demand drop off options are also turning their minds to out-of-hours. Officeworks offers its Mailman drop-off service for business clients, while CouriersPlease says it has 750 delivery points across Australia, including 24/7 options at 7-Eleven stores.

Chin Moody says Sendle's competitive advantage is clear: while many larger businesses may use traditional parcel delivery, smaller operators want national flat postage rates and delivery points open when they want them, as close by as possible.

"Parcel delivery is becoming a key differentiator."

"Just pop down"

Vikki Guerreiro has avoided using traditional post in favour of challengers like Sendle because of the appeal of not having to wait to organise parcel delivery.

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"It was something that was just simple where I could do it at my own convenience…and just having it all ready to just pop down to the local newsagency," she says.

The co-founder of Portuguese products business The Canned Company has small order volumes at the moment, with the company turning over around $20,000.

At this stage taking orders to a single drop-off point suits the business best given it's easier to drop parcels than spending money waiting for courier pickups.

"If we do bigger amounts, it’s obviously going to change a few things," Guerreiro says.

For smaller parcel volumes, challengers are providing a more affordable deal than the traditional options, she believes.

"We factor in price a lot, because it takes it away from the [margin] on actual goods."

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