Preparing for a peak online shopping season like no other

In the wake of significant online shopping growth, the stage is set for a holiday peak shopping season unlike any we’ve seen before. Working collaboratively with Australia Post can help you prepare for the expected surge in demand. Booktopia shares how a partnership approach has helped them manage Christmas-level volumes for almost a year.

Key points

  • To prepare for peak online shopping periods, it’s important to build flexibility into plans, adopt best practice fulfilment processes and set clear customer expectations
  • Working in partnership with Australia Post can help you deliver on your customer promise.
  • Although the size and timing of surges in demand can be unexpected, businesses need to be ready.

Sales peaks can be challenging at the best of times. Add a pandemic to the mix and it’s a whole new level of pressure.

Prior to COVID-19, the 31 days to 18 December 2019 – which included Black Friday and Cyber Monday – were responsible for the highest period of demand in Australia’s online shopping in history. But in 2020, the pandemic has driven ‘peak-like’ volumes since March; and the month of August set a new record, with online purchases 8.9% higher than that 2019 peak.

Together with Australia’s online retailers, Australia Post has had to adapt to the heightened demand; with the pressure on our network increased by government restrictions impacting our operations. As we approach the 2020 holiday shopping peak, we will continue to invest in our capacity to respond to the changing demands of Australian consumers; more facilities will operate around the clock, with additional temporary processing sites and more vehicles on the road.

As your partner in peak, we are here to help deliver on your customer promise at this crucial time of year. That’s why we’ve prepared a new resource to help – Preparing for peaks and surges in online shopping: A strategic toolkit for your business.

We’ve also spoken to Wayne Baskin, Deputy CEO and CTO of Australia’s largest online bookstore Booktopia – to offer you some insight into how they’re gearing up for peak season.

Managing a year of monumental growth for Australia’s largest online bookstore

According to Baskin, Booktopia has been operating “at peak levels since October 2019, pushing over 30,000 units out of their distribution centre a day.”

He believes their volumes will get “bigger and bigger” as Christmas approaches and anticipates their volumes will be “at least a hundred percent up year on year”.

To help his team manage an expected “60,000 units a day”, Booktopia is adding new systems and equipment, which Wayne says will help them “automate parcel sorting 14 ways and reduce manual handling.” He says, “We will be relying on that automation to double our output out of the distribution centre.”

Booktopia’s customer experience obsession meant Wayne’s team had to re-think their same-day delivery promise. “Pre-COVID we were shipping same-day for orders before 10am. But now we’re at two-to-three business days because of the volumes and disruptions,” he explains.

Optimising fulfilment operations

Optimising your systems to ensure parcels are well-prepared, helps Australia Post process them more efficiently – reducing the risk of avoidable delays. For example, Wayne’s team have added extra labelling to their cages to help their parcels enter Australia Post’s network seamlessly.

Wayne agrees, “We always aim for best practice, because it makes things easier for Australia Post to process our parcels, and that has a customer impact.”

Of this year’s peak holiday shopping season, he predicts, “It’s going to be crazy. It's going to be mad. But we're all going to be there for the ride.”

Australia Post’s strategic toolkit Preparing for peaks and surges in online shopping includes guides and checklists to help you, help us, during this busy period – from preparing ULDs and pallets to printing labels correctly; using the most appropriate packaging; and sending manifest data at the right time.


This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for your business needs.

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Preparing for peaks and surges in online shopping: a strategic toolkit for your business to get ready for the next eCommerce rush.