Vanbrigade does shopping for you
Home delivery is coming back with a rush, writes James Stanford
NEW transport opportunities are opening up as more Australian customers choose home delivery.
Changing buyer habits, led by the popularity of the internet and reduced free time for shopping, are putting the squeeze on traditional bricks-and-mortar shops and boosting the market for to-thedoor deliveries.
Several start-up companies are making the most of the trend, while some courier operations are changing their focus and paying more attention to home deliveries.
Figures from overseas suggest a substantial number of us are buying items by internet, phone or mailorder catalogues.
A Neilson study found Asia is home to the most prolific online shoppers, with 90 per cent of consumers in the region intending to make online purchases within the next six months.
It found 4 per cent of customers in South Korea and China say they use the internet for most of their grocery needs, 71 per cent regularly use the internet to buy groceries and 30 per cent use TV shopping channels (that’s a lot of steak knives).
Other studies suggest that in the US, up to 20 per cent of clothing, electronics and media are bought via non-store avenues. Non-store shopping is strong in electronics such as iPods and iPads.
TNT Express specialises in business-to-business freight but does home delivery work and has the contract to deliver Apple products, often bought over the internet.
‘‘ The people who buy Apple products are usually early adopters, so using in the internet makes sense for them,’’ says TNT marketing communications manager Adrian Castorina. ‘‘It is important for us to get it to them quickly.‘‘There is no doubt that Gen Y use the internet to shop and we see a large increase in home deliveries of products purchased through websites.’’
A much wider group of customers is also getting on the home delivery wagon.
Many of us can probably remember having milk home delivered in glass bottles, a service that stopped in our neighbourhood in the late 1980s. Well, the milkmen have returned and this time they have groceries as well.
Aussie Farmers Direct started five years ago with a plan to home deliver milk in a Melbourne suburb and it now has 80,000 customers in six states.
The idea is the milkmen (and women) buy a franchise from the company for about $110,000. That buys access to an area. They then buy a refrigerated delivery van. Most pick a Hyundai iLoad, Mitsubishi Express or Toyota HiAce.
Aussie Farmers Direct takes care
‘‘ We see a large increase in home deliveries of products purchased through website
of all the marketing and all the backroom functions that can drive small business operators mad, including book-keeping.
Aussie Farmers Direct has 80 franchisees and is looking for more.
The customer appeal is two-fold, says Aussie Farmers Direct spokeswoman Natashia Bartlett.
‘‘It is the convenience value of having your shopping brought straight to your door,’’ she says.
‘‘ The fact the customers are also supporting local farmers, with 100 per cent of our products sourced from Australian owned, is also appreciated.’’
Most operators are new to the freight indus0try — a franchise is a chance to try something different.
Supermarkets, which Aussie Farmers Direct suggests forced out the original milkman by heavily discounting milk, are keen not to miss out on the home delivery trade.
Big players Coles and Woolworths have offered home delivery services, but the take-up has not been great.
Now they are both marketing home-delivery options.
‘‘We have not seen much demand previously, but we are certainly pushing hard at the moment and expect to see an increase in home delivery services,’’ says a Woolworths spokesman.
Freight from the warehouse to bricks-and-mortar stores is facing pressure from the new trend.
More customers buying items from overseas is likely to benefit Australia Post in the case of smaller, cheaper items.
Courier companies are likely to benefit from increased deliveries of larger items.
And the rise in the value of the Australian dollar is likely to see trans-boundary purchasing increase
At your service: Aussie Farmers Direct milkman Jason Hill delivers produce in Richmond.
Open for business: a long-wheelbase HiAce is ideal for home deliveries.