Software makeover delivers speed to mail company
Published: November 12, 2012 – 10:43AM
Has a piece of software ever been responsible for doubling your company’s growth rate?
Mail delivery service Mailplus says it achieved growth of 24 per cent and 20 per cent in the past two years, up from an average growth rate of 9.6 per cent, after adopting new software.
Chief executive Chris Burgess is adamant the growth was due to a decision his company made three years ago to abandon two disjointed business applications in favour of one.
Revenue is expected to be about $24 million in the financial year to June 30, up from $20.5 million in the previous year.
Mailplus is an Australian mail delivery service known as “first and last mile”. The company’s 150 franchisees run their own businesses ferrying parcels between regular customers and Australia Post on daily runs.
Franchisees canvas, sign-up and bill small business clients nationally – something that Burgess says became nearly impossible to do using the company’s nine-year-old bespoke systems, originally built on FileMaker and MYOB.
“Filemaker and MYOB weren’t keeping up. We were getting complaints from franchisees that the system was crashing all the time. We like to provide transparency to the franchisees, so they aren’t calling us every five minutes,” Burgess said.
Previously, the process from prospecting to signing up a client could take weeks. His annual software maintenance bill alone was $100,000. Now, he says, it takes just a few days.
By transparency, Burgess means allowing franchisees to tap into the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system and interact with invoicing and sales applications, including contracts, remotely.
They can now do that using an iPad and iPhone application integrated with the cloud-based Netsuite financial and ERP software used to run the entire business.
Franchisees use the mobile devices to receive leads from head office, update the customer database to aid telemarketers, as well as produce electronic contracts for customers to sign.
Although he says newer versions of his old software might have provided some or similar functionality, the company needed to segment individual franchisee accounts and allow them to manage those accounts remotely. Salesforce was also considered as a replacement option.
“Being a franchisee business, we need a point of difference in the marketplace. We believe our software is that. People are genuinely impressed by the way they can interact with our business and head office.”
He says reorganising all business processes around the new system has allowed the company to achieve scale and sign-up more new customers with the same staff count.
Burgess says the company is ready to take on a partner to extend its services, but wouldn’t reveal which company. It plans to start selling products such as pre-paid and pay-on-delivery satchels to non-account holders in partnership with another courier or postal service.
“We are now looking to optimise the mobile technology to work as a mobile point-of-sale [terminal].”
The parcel delivery system is burgeoning worldwide on the back of exponential growth in online shopping.
Australia Post has already re-engineered its business to capitalise on that growth and make up for falling letter-delivery revenue. It is counting on the launch of a digital mailbox service and 24-hour parcel lockers as part of a $2 billion strategy to future-proof the company.
“Australia Post are trying to maintain their market share because there is an enormous amount of value, increasing every year – they are optimising their business to be a parcel delivery business. It’s a significant shift in logistics. We’re well-placed to be that first and last-mile partner,” Burgess says.
He is hoping to eventually secure up to 15 per cent market share among small business customers, up from the current estimated two per cent.
Can you credit a software or IT decision with such quantifiable results? What’s your experience?
Australia Post hopes to put stamp on online market
Published: October 2, 2012 – 2:20PM
Australia Post has positioned itself to take a bigger slice of the online retail sector through the purchase of Qantas’ 50 per cent stake in StarTrack freight business.
Australia Post said it would pay $408 million to Qantas for the 50 per cent of StarTrack it doesn’t own.
“The growth in online shopping in Australia is increasing demand for flexible, timely and cost-effective delivery solutions for businesses and consumers,” said Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour.
As the largest delivery network in Australia, StarTrack will increase Australia Post’s ability to serve retailers and customers who are increasingly shopping online — a market estimated, by National Australia Bank, to be worth $11.9 billion and to have grown 22 per cent in the year to August.
StarTrack will bring infrastructure capabilities that include a fully-automated network and track-and-trace technology. The freight company, with about 3700 employees, specialises in next-day, same-day and weekend delivery.
“Under single ownership, both Australia Post and StarTrack will have a far more comprehensive offer to customers and the potential to unlock further value for our customers in the future,” said Mr Fahour.
Ord Minnett senior equities research analyst Paresh Patel said Australia Post’s decision to take 100 per cent ownership of StarTrack was a ‘‘smart move’’ because the structural change in retail sector was not going to slow.
In fact, the future battleground among online retailers will increasingly be in the freight area, said Mr Patel. ‘‘It’s nice having all the online stuff, but if you can’t deliver it to consumer requirements then you have basically lost the sales,’’ he said.
Australia Post is assuring it has capacity for future demand, he said. Bigger retailers would also be looking at their supply chain to ensure they can take orders and deliver in a 24-hour environment.
‘‘Even if interest rates decline, we haven’t seen the end of households deleveraging and continued growth in online retailing particularly [from] overseas,’’ he said.
Recognising the shift in the retail sector, Australia Post has moved deeper into the online delivery space in recent years, creating a commercial relationship with online shopping group Tarazz, which helps consumers purchase from offshore sites.
Australia Post has also inked a deal with Farmhouse Direct to offer competitive pricing on fresh produce shipped nationwide. Under the terms of the deal, Australia Post will sell its 50 per cent share of air freight group Australia Air Express to Qantas. AAE will continue to provide air freight services to StarTrack and Australia Post. Australia Post said it has no plans to change the current management or operations of StarTrack which will operate as a stand-alone brand within Australia Post.