Innovation creates new value for our customers and communities, ensuring a sustainable enterprise for our people and shareholder.
While changing technology and a globalising world is providing many challenges to our letters business, it is also providing significant new opportunities to use the assets of Australia Post to solve the new and emerging problems of customers and communities around Australia.
The focus of our innovation efforts involve making eCommerce, eGovernment and the broader digitisation of trusted services more accessible. Pursuing these opportunities will enable all Australians to start and grow businesses, participate in global marketplaces and access government services.
There are three major developments supporting innovation at Australia Post:
- supporting all our people in listening to customers and solving customer problems
- co-creating new products and services with leading customers in our solution centres in eCommerce and trusted services
- launching the Australia Post Accelerator which partners or invests in new businesses created internally or via our investment fund
Innovating with our people
The basis of innovation continues to be our people. Their passion for customers and communities has been the core of the development of Australia Post for over 200 years. Today we are equipping them with enhanced tools and data to understand the customer requirements and improve the customer experience. The roll-out of our customer feedback management system and NPS tools is providing new opportunities for all our people to listen and solve customer problems. Employee immersion events known as The Grapevine give people across our business the opportunity to engage in the future of Australia Post and their role in making changes that benefit customers and our business.
Hack Dayz, where employees come together to identify customer problems and work intensively on building or “hacking” a working prototype or solution, are now common events inside Australia Post. Recently an “intrapreneurship” program where employees initiate new business ideas to test and develop with customers has also been introduced.
Innovation arenas reflect new customer challenges and opportunities
The Australia Post Accelerator has four strategic areas of focus:
Based on solving key customer challenges, these arenas guide investment and acceleration support provided to Australian start-ups by the Australia Post Accelerator.
Innovating with our customers
Our product, sales and marketing teams are aligned to customers and today work collaboratively to solve our customers’ most important problems. Design thinking and agile delivery teams are now a core part of the capability of these teams. This year we worked with customers on many important future developments that included:
- same day delivery options for leading online retailers
- new delivery solutions for regional customers through drone trials
- new co-working workspaces called the Small Business Hive, designed to support the business service and space needs of entrepreneurs and start-ups in local communities
- continued development of eCommerce application programming interfaces (APIs) and self-scanning applications for small to medium businesses
- new digital “one stop” change of address applications for corporate and governments.
We are also investing to support a more innovative Australia. Our Go & Grow Online events continue to be popular, particularly in regional Australia. In a forum designed to foster conversation about online opportunities, we bring in experts to discuss topics such as search engine optimisation and best practice eCommerce, so entrepreneurs can start online businesses, and established small businesses can grow and export. In 2015/16, we held 38 Go & Grow Online sessions with expert presenters, most of which were hosted by local members of parliament.
Other events involved our eCommerce partners Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, to help business gain insights from industry leaders about online trends and growth opportunities.
In 2015/16, we created an integrated campaign to promote the opportunity all Australians have in eCommerce. We Love Delivering was used to demonstrate the idea that now every Australian, everywhere, can start a business and their first customer can be anywhere in the world.
StarTrack business breakfasts building innovation
Our popular StarTrack Business Breakfast series continued during the year, with two well-attended expert panel discussions at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne and Sydney’s Ivy Sunroom. A combined total of more than 180 online retailers from various stages of the business lifecycle took part, including eCommerce partners Temando, PayPal and Shippit.
Guest panels, comprising leading Australian businesswomen in the eCommerce sector, helped our business customers innovate and improve their online customer experience. Panellists shared insights on what it takes to succeed in an increasingly competitive and rapidly evolving digital world, drawing on their own experiences using social media, delivering seamless customer experiences and creating brand loyalty to drive customer growth and retention.
Working with WA Police
In 2015/16, together with Western Australia (WA) Police, we won a government innovation award for our digital identity solution for National Police Certificates. Many government agencies are digitising their services and our unique position is the ability to provide an omni-channel service offering, where customers can elect to use the Post Office or an online option, to help the agency improve its customer service.
Our partnership with the WA Police involved digitising their National Police Check process. Performing in-person Police Checks is something we have done at our Post Offices since 2007. During 2015/16, we created a streamlined digital process that links to CrimTrak and includes:
- online forms
- electronic identity verification
- QR codes
- online payment processing
- secure online delivery and storage in MyPost Digital Mailbox.
A process that previously took a number of days can now be completed in one hour. As a provider of eGovernment services, we are using innovation, our network and our trusted eCommerce solutions to provide innovative and relevant options for customers.
In 2016, we also launched on Alibaba’s business-to-business marketplace, called 1688.com. There are now five Margaret River (Western Australia) wineries on our 1688 storefront and recent orders included a shipping container of wine to China. Demand for quality Australian products in unlocking a world of opportunity for local businesses wanting to grow into China.
Further opportunities are available through our agreement with JD.com, China’s second largest online retailer. This includes a flagship online store showcasing Australian products, which exposes Australian businesses to more than 500 million customers on the JD Worldwide website.
Our strategy is to empower consumers, business and government to connect, create and thrive in the digitised future. This means growing our role in government service delivery, creating products that connect our communities to everyday services, like bill payments, and expanding our capability in identity, payment and information management services. Our range of services keeps growing and all four major Australian banks now use Bank@Post.
We are also providing identity services on behalf of the Victorian Land Titles Office, working with the Northern Territory Department of Transport to digitise vehicle licensing and the Queensland Government to process fishing licenses. In South Australia we are investigating a return to work solution that involves scanning compensation claims at Post Offices. Through our Decipha business we also offer digitised donations for charity groups, to encourage greater contribution through convenient channels.
From the seemingly simple notion of enabling customers to search and lease Post Office boxes via the internet using PO Box Online, to the digital native-style Snap It App launched in July that allows employees to log customer queries, safety and damage issues immediately, we have made customers the focus of our eCommerce discoveries and services.
Australia Post Accelerator
In late 2015, we announced the launch of the Australia Post Accelerator that would invest in new business creation and external start-ups. The Australia Post Accelerator is now engaging with the Australian startup ecosystem, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to work with us and solve a new set of challenges and capitalise on emerging opportunities that the eCommerce and eGovernment world is creating.
The accelerator offers support by providing eCommerce tools for entrepreneurs and broad sponsorship for entrepreneur programs, with a special focus on rural and regional outreach and female entrepreneurship. It also invests in outstanding Australian entrepreneurs through the $20 million Australia Post Investment Fund.
Operating separately from our core business activities, the accelerator leverages Australia Post’s assets and networks, enabling it to operate with the agility of a start-up while still providing emerging small business and entrepreneurial partners with the advantages of corporate backing.
Partnerships driving innovation
Many of our partnerships involve integrating online tools and software to help our business customers sell, track and send their online orders in a more streamlined, secure and simple way. For example, our customers use online platforms like Temando and NetSuite to access a range of business services to manage orders, print labels and so on. By integrating with an eCommerce platform that partners with Australia Post, businesses of all sizes can access our shipping and tracking services.
Similarly, by leveraging our partnerships with international online marketplaces, Tmall Global, eBay, Amazon, Good Spender and Farmhouse Direct, we enable businesses to find and connect with new customers and create revenue.
Helping Tall Poppies to keep growing
To assist female entrepreneurs, we launched Tall Poppies, to support women with confidence building and networks, which are two significant obstacles for women building businesses. This community outreach program provides an online conversation platform where women can connect and share ideas with other female entrepreneurs.
An example of the power of this initiative was the group of local women who made newspaper headlines for putting Wagga Wagga on the map as a “hub of innovation”. Though country cities are not generally associated with habouring business pioneers, two of Wagga’s female entrepreneurs proved big ideas can be born from small cities. Founder of coffee-ordering app 365 cups, Simone Eyles and start-up business owner and Wade Institute’s first Australia Post scholarship winner Sarah Agboola, were featured in national media after attending our Tall Poppies Summit.
Tall Poppies events are aimed to encourage and inspire female entrepreneurs to start and grow their own businesses. The Melbourne Summit in April 2016 saw more than 80 female entrepreneurs and business leaders take part in panel conversations and discussions aimed at women in business.
Sponsorships of Melbourne Accelerator Program – supporting entrepreneurs
Last October Australia Post announced a three-year sponsorship of the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP). This sponsorship reflected Australia Post’s ongoing commitment to support young entrepreneurs in Australia. It also aligned more broadly with Australia Post’s community outreach programs supporting small business in rural and regional communities like the 2016 Go Online and Grow Online event series.
This year the MAP sponsorship provided two additional places for aspiring eCommerce start-ups within the MAP16 Start-up Accelerator intake. It also awarded a new Wade Institute Master of Entrepreneurship scholarship to Sarah Agboola, a young entrepreneur from regional Wagga Wagga, and drove support for a range of new community outreach activities including the development of a new one-day Start-up Intensive workshop for rural and regional entrepreneurs.
Some of the Australia Post Accelerator team and Australia Post’s first internal start-up teams are co-located at MAP’s working space in Carlton, Victoria.
Our future outlook
We are working with our customer partners to create innovative solutions including our international alliances and joint ventures, new partnerships, omni-channel services and capabilities.
We are investing in the future by evolving our products, services and capabilities to create new opportunities for growth, participation and inclusion in a digital economy.
We will work with corporates and governments to support their digitisation strategies and use our extensive reach to ensure all Australians continue to have access to essential services.