New Zealanders appear to have spent record amounts online this holiday season.
NZ Post - which delivers half of all parcels bought online in New Zealand - says it couriered 14.5 million parcels during the months of November and December. That's an average of 2.8 parcels per second, the busiest on record.
Online shopping spend in New Zealand has grown by 18 per cent year on year over November and December, according to Paymark data*. However, retail spend did not follow suit, as Stats NZ reports a 0.2 per cent decline in the December 2018 quarter.
NZ Post's GM, business marketing, Chris Wong says NZ Post began planning for sky-rocketing parcel volumes over the holiday shopping season, due to the annually increasing online spend a year ago and significantly increased its level of service in order to handle the growth. Among other measures it:
- Boosted its operational team by 600
- Put in place an extra 48 customer services staff
- Put in place an extra 173 courier vans, 27 more trucks and laid on 165 more flights
Although Christmas is obviously a major contributing factor, Wong says the growing popularity with New Zealanders of shopping days initiated overseas - Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day - are helping drive the demand.
In the days following Black Friday (November 23) and Cyber Monday (November 26), NZ Post delivered well over five million parcels.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is regarded as the first day of Christmas shopping while Cyber Monday is used by online retailers to promote shopping bargains on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
In recent years both have started to take off in New Zealand along with Singles Day (November 11) which is a Chinese initiative that began as an anti-Valentine's Day in the 1990s when students at Nanjing University started celebrating their single status.
It was soon adopted by e-commerce giant Alibaba (China's equivalent to Amazon) and it has now become a day when everyone, regardless of whether they are single or not, buys themselves gifts (last year Singles Day online shoppers in China shattered records by hitting $30.8 billion in sales, a figure 27 per cent higher than in 2017, and eclipsing Cyber Monday sales in the US).
Wong says many New Zealand companies have jumped on board these promotions: "Our experience shows that a few days after these sales we start to see huge volumes of parcels coming through our network."
Wong says the company's core aim is to provide overnight delivery – and despite the 2018 holiday season being its busiest on record the company achieved a 96 per cent on-time delivery rate. Its service levels were also ranked number one in New Zealand by the Kantar TNS Courier Performance Report for December 2018 (Kantar is a global research agency).
Wong says this is a key factor for many of its e-commerce small business customers.
"They are typically time poor, wear many hats and need logistics that work," Wong says. "Building their business is their focus so our role is to deliver the best service levels we can for them and give them the best possible experience.
"Our future will be in delivering parcels and already we are looking at planning for the November/December period this year."
One company happy with NZ Post's service is Auckland-based toy retailer, Toyco. Owner Martin Monk says online shopping has grown considerably since Toyco was established in 2009 and it is extremely important for it to have a good delivery service.
"In the 30 days leading up to Christmas we had around 25,000 deliveries go out," he says. "We have found NZ Post's service to be much more efficient than previous couriers we were using - and we get fewer complaints from customers."
Toyco has a retail store at St Lukes and for online shoppers delivers anywhere in New Zealand.
Watch a NZ Post video on the 2018 shopping season below, and learn more at nzpost.co.nz/business
*Paymark data November and December 2018