E-commerce giant JD.com picks VIC for regional HQ

JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, will open its regional headquarters in Melbourne, the Victorian Government has announced.
JD.com has over 266 million customer accounts, and operates China’s largest nationwide fulfilment network, with seven fulfilment centres and more than 400 warehouses in 2,830 counties and districts throughout China.
The company sells a wide range of goods, including vitamins, electronics, clothing and books.
Following a visit by representatives from JD.com to the Food and Beverage Trade Week in Victoria in October, the Andrews Labor Government has been working closely with the company to encourage it to establish a presence in the region.
“This announcement will give more Victorian businesses the opportunity to take their products to the world and is a clear indication that we’re leading the nation on the digital economy,” said Victorian Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis.
“We welcome JD.com with open arms and look forward to all the opportunities that this new regional HQ will bring to Victoria, including strengthening our economy and creating more local jobs.”
Patrick Nestel, Manager of JD.com Australia, added:
“Victoria’s wealth of high-quality suppliers, supportive government, 24/7 airport and largest container port in the southern hemisphere made it the obvious choice for JD.com’s new regional HQ.”

Toll designs ‘next-gen’ DC around e-commerce

The Hon. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, New South Wales, has attended the official opening for Toll Group’s new distribution centre in Western Sydney, a facility the Australian logistics company claims is specially designed to support online retailing.
Pavey performed the ribbon cutting, alongside John Mullen, Chairman of Toll Group, and Alex Linton, General Manger – Logistics of Specialty Fashion Group, the new DC’s inaugural anchor tenant.
The $160 million “retail and e-commerce centre” is set across 32,000sqm, and incorporates 15,600sqm of automation equipment.
According to Toll, the facility is capable of picking, processing and packing 375,000 items per day, shortening delivery times “from days to hours.”
“Staying competitive in a rapidly changing global market requires vision, determination and an appetite for change, and that’s what Toll’s new facility will provide,” said Pavey.
Chris Pearce, Divisional Director – Toll Global Logistics, noted that today’s market is placing aggressive demands on retailers to provide fast fulfilment and delivery, while keeping costs down.
“Toll’s investment in the new facility is helping our customers adapt to the new retail environment,” he said. “The facility is equipped with $50 million in advanced automation technology so retails can deliver their e-commerce orders faster and in a much more economical way.
“This advanced technology will increase our productivity fivefold – capable of picking, processing and packing 70 million items per year.”
Specialty Fashion Group worked with Toll in the design of the facility, with scalability and future growth in mind.
“At Specialty Fashion Group, we’re constantly looking to improve the omni-channel experience for our customers,” said General Manager – Logistics, Linton. “We have a highly specialised supply chain, so we needed a customised solution that would meet our ongoing needs as a retailer.”
Automation of the facility will reportedly reduce manual handling by 70 per cent, expected to lead to a reduction in safety incidents.

Amazon launches in Australia, offers one-day metro delivery

In the early hours of Tuesday, 5 December, Amazon announced the launch of its full Australian online retail operations at Amazon.com.au.
The site stocks products across more than 20 categories – from consumer electronics to clothing, with fast delivery options.
Amazon is offering customers free delivery on eligible orders above $49, and one-day delivery in select areas across Australia.
Amazon expects to launch its ‘Prime’ shipping, shopping and entertainment benefits in Australia in mid-2018, and the company is directing customers to register online for more information.
“Focusing on customers and the long term are key principles in Amazon’s approach to retailing,” said Rocco Braeuniger, Country Manager, Amazon Australia.
“By concentrating on providing a great shopping experience and by constantly innovating on behalf of customers, we hope to earn the trust and the custom of Australian shoppers in the years to come.”
The selection at Amazon.com.au includes products offered by large Australian brands, as well as small and medium-sized Australian businesses selling on Amazon Marketplace.
Customer orders will be fulfilled from Amazon’s new distribution centre in Dandenong South, and Amazon also has corporate offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra that are home to more than 1,000 employees.
“Over time, we will create thousands of new jobs and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia,” said Braeuniger. “The result will be an ever-improving customer experience driven by the regular introduction of new products and services that we hope customers will love.”
The Australian Financial Review has revealed that shares in Australia-based global delivery logistics software company GetSwift doubled on Friday, 1 December, following the news that it has signed a ‘master services agreement’ with Amazon.
“GetSwift is pleased to announce that it has signed a global master services agreement with Amazon,” GetSwift said in an ASX announcement. “The extent of the services to be provided and the revenues to be derived will be generated from specific transactions agreed with Amazon pursuant to the Master Services Agreement.
“Due to the terms of the agreement the number of deliveries this agreement may generate is currently not determinable.
Australian customers can now also access Prime Video and Twitch Prime, for an introductory price of US$2.99 ($4.00) per month.
Jim Power – consumer sector research analyst at Martin Currie, a division of asset management firm Legg Mason – noted that Australia’s retail sector will cope with the arrival of Amazon.
“While Amazon will have an impact on the Australian retail landscape, based on my discussions with a wide range of market participants in the US, I remain positive of the Australian retail sector.
“My main take away [from meeting US retailers] was that Amazon’s key advantage is that its strategy is driven by data, not gut feel, and the key source of this data is the Marketplace.
“For Amazon’s Marketplace to be successful in Australia, Amazon will need a good product range, including local specialty suppliers. I think this may prove difficult.”

Amazon Australia launch plans remain under wraps

Edit – 30 November 2017: News site LifeHacker has shared that Amazon’s failure to launch may have been due to a glitch in the software used to apply goods and services tax (GST), as announced by Jason Mahoney, Managing Director – ANZ of market research firm Kantar Retail.
Following months of speculation about Amazon’s intentions to launch a local presence in Australia, and months of subsequent speculation about the logistics of the move once the company had confirmed its Down Under aspirations, the latest speculation revolves around the launch date for the e-commerce company’s local website.
Email correspondence with retailers leaked last week revealed a soft launch planned for Thursday afternoon, suggesting a Black Friday rollout could be imminent. Alas, reports emerged on Friday from retailers revealing that the soft launch had in fact not gone ahead, prompting speculation that Amazon had purposefully sent the email to prompt local retailers into promoting their own Black Friday discount offers.
News site Tamebay has offered its own thoughts on the likely timeline for Amazon’s Australian expansion, surmising that a pre-Christmas unveiling looks likely, and a Black Friday launch was never on the cards. “The last thing that Amazon would have wanted would be the extra pressure of running thousands of Black Friday deals and having their brand new warehouse staff (many of whom will still be being trained) for their first day’s trading,” the site wrote.
We’ll be watching keenly for developments, and are excited to make a purchase once the full site is up and running – to test its fulfilment and delivery capabilities, of course.

Amazon Australia launch may have gone “horribly wrong”

Australian retailers partnering with Amazon have been left confused after the e-commerce company failed to launch its full Australian site on Black Friday, 24 November, ChannelNews reports.
The retailers have reportedly not received any communication from Amazon, since getting an email earlier in the week advising them to be prepared for a soft launch at 2pm yesterday, Thursday, 23 November.
ChannelNews shared that an executive from Synnex, a major distribution partner for Amazon, said it had not received a single order.
“It appears that something has gone horribly wrong and they have decided not to launch,” the executive said.
One retailer told ChannelNews that it felt that it was being kept in the dark. “We have no order, we don’t even have access to an Amazon tracking portal,” the source said. “Our stock is sitting in warehouses ready to go.”
Technology distributor Ingram Micro said it had had no orders so far, and suggested that the original communication announcing a soft launch may have been a tactic by Amazon to prompt local competitors to announce their own Black Friday discounts.

CouriersPlease appoints National eCommerce Manager

Parcel delivery company CouriersPlease’s new National eCommerce Manager, Jessica Ip, has been tasked with driving the strategy and innovation of the business’s e-commerce services to “enhance the customer experience and position the business at the forefront of online retail delivery,” the company explained in a statement.
“Jessica’s mantle will be the design and implementation of a suite of innovative e-commerce solutions to make last-mile delivery as hassle-free, flexible and convenient for the customer.”
Ip spent seven years at Qantas Freight, where she in worked in technology consultancy, improving business performance and global key account management and e-business. Most recently, she was Courier Product Manager at Rohlig Australia.
“To take the helm of CouriersPlease’s e-commerce management, at what is such a pivotal time for the logistics, supply chain and retail industries, is a great opportunity,” said Ip. “With the growing demand for online shopping and competition from major global players, our focus is on enhancing the customer experience right from the time an order is made to the final moment when the parcel is delivered.
“To meet customer expectations, we will continue to innovate and implement technology solutions such as CouriersPlease’s flexible Delivery Choices, on-demand notifications giving customers the choice to redirect their parcel to our network of parcel lockers and retail outlets, leave the delivery without a signature, or with a neighbour close by if they won’t be home to receive their order.”
Mark McGinley, CEO, CouriersPlease, added, “Jessica’s experience implementing strategic business technology innovations will be a great asset for CouriersPlease, as we work to develop more solutions to help ease the delivery experience for our customers and online retailer partners. She will be key in continuing to roll out our network of POPPoints in retail outlets around the country, and implementing our flexible Delivery Choices.”
Jessica joins a senior leadership team made up of 80 per cent women.

Leak reveals Amazon Australia launch set for today

An email sent to select retailers announcing the soft launch of Amazon’s Australian operations has been leaked to news site Life Hacker.
The emails calls for sellers to be ready for the site to go live at 2pm AEST, at which time customers will be able to access listings though since only a small number of buyers will be granted access initially, for a testing period.
Amazon seems to be looking to take advantage of the growing international popularity of partaking in the Black Friday shopping day – the day following Thanksgiving in the US is known for retailers offering massive discounts, allowing people to stock up on Christmas presents.
This year, Black Friday falls tomorrow – 24 November.
It is unknown when Amazon would be looking to rollout its full site to customers, though if today’s test goes well it could be a busy month for the retailer in the run-up to Christmas – and we’ll be watching keenly to see what delivery arrangements it has made to avoid disappointing customers familiar with its delivery capabilities in other regions.

Australian online retailer The Iconic moves to major new DC

Australian online fashion retailer The Iconic has moved to a new, larger distribution centre (DC) in Yennora, New South Wales, due to growing customer demand and in preparation for forecasted growth over the coming years.
The company says the 19,000m2 site will be Australia’s largest ‘fashion wardrobe’, home to 700 brands, more than 45,000 different products and innovation in delivery, returns and technology.
“In just over five short years, The Iconic, Australia’s largest online fashion and sportswear destination, has redefined the Australian retail landscape and raised the bar in the way consumers shop for fashion,” the company said in a statement.
“The Iconic is now five years old and growing faster than ever,” said Patrick Schmidt, CEO, The Iconic. “We’ve expanded our team significantly, welcomed an influx of new customers shopping our site and app and have on-boarded so many beloved global and local brands that we’ve physically outgrown the warehouse space that saw us through our early years.
“As we prepare for the exciting years ahead we are pleased to have successfully relocated to a much larger and more sophisticated fulfilment centre to support the growth of our business through 2020 and beyond.
“This considerably larger space ensures we have the capacity to keep up with demand for the latest styles our customers want, and also supports our commitment to offering industry-defining delivery options to make online shopping joyful, convenient and seamless.”
The Iconic’s new DC is the size of three football fields, and moving operations to the new facility took 500 of the company’s staff members 25 hours, 50 truck runs – and 2,000 Subway sandwiches.

Amazon’s Australian DCs ready for action

At the opening of its Marketplace Seller Summit in Sydney on 13 November, the company announced that its Australian warehouse operations are kitted out and ready to go, with an official launch of the full Amazon site expected soon, in time for the Christmas rush.
Channel News reports that Amazon executives shared their belief that their arrival in Australia will drive sales for Australian manufacturers.
Roco Braeuniger, CEO, Amazon Australia, noted that the company will not sacrifice “long-term success for short term gains.”
“We intend to invest millions of dollars in the market and we will create hundreds of jobs,” he said, Channel News shared.
Fabio Bertola, responsible for Amazon’s local Marketplace operation and Italian operations, hinted at an imminent announcement.
“We are here today to help Australians get the best,” he said. “We are launching with both a retail and marketplace operation shortly. In Australia there is a lot of small businesses that we can engage with and we believe that we can deliver a global marketplace for these businesses.”
At the event, executives from Koala Safe – which already operates globally on Amazon – reportedly said that they expect the arrival of Amazon in Australia to result in 15 per cent growth, and added that Amazon Australia was looking at a two-day turnaround in freight delivery.

CouriersPlease partners with e-commerce platform eCorner

CouriersPlease has announced a strategic partnership with eCorner, an Australian e-commerce platform that provides services to online retailers and organisations such as Weight Watchers Australia, Gadgets 4 Geeks, Translink and the Australian Institute of Sport. Through the partnership, eCorner is now fully integrated with CouriersPlease’s services.
Over 10 million consumers visited eCorner-partnered online retail sites last year, placing more than 400,000 orders. These customers will now have access to CouriersPlease’s delivery network and will automatically be provided with the option to get their parcels delivered to conveniently located POPPoints of their choice – comprised of retail outlets (POPShops) and parcel lockers (POPStations).
“In the dynamic e-commerce industry, customer expectations are changing and consumers expect reliable and fast shipping,” said Mark McGinley, CEO CouriersPlease. “Customers also want a choice in how and where their parcel is delivered. Our flexible options will give customers of eCorner retailers the option to redirect their parcel at any time during the delivery, at no additional cost. By offering customers access to a range of on-demand, flexible services, online retailers can stay relevant in the industry and compete with giants such as Amazon.”
John Debrincat, CEO, eCorner, added, “At eCorner, we are always looking at ways of improving our offering. We do that by extending the functionality of ePages to support third-party systems. The direct integration of ePages with CP will allow their customers to request convenient shipping options directly from their store. This added feature will allow our clients to enhance their customer experience, so online shoppers won’t miss a delivery.”

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