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Transport & Logistics

The age of the customer in the online logistics industry

19 Nov 2013, by Informa Insights

From B2B, to B2C, the common theme at the online retail logistics conference was the rise of the consumer and the importance of customer service. In an Australian first, the Online Retail Logistics conference discussed the latest shipping barriers and customer expectations.


With industry speakers from eBay, Australia Post, IBM Australia and, the changing face of retail was one of the key themes at the inaugural Online Retail Logistics conference that took place last week.

Stuart Harker, the Global Retail and Consumer Advisory Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, summed up the changing online environment in a few simple words. “It’s not just clicking anymore.”


Harker opened the conference by discussing the changing face of retail, and the need for retailers to lean-up their supply chains, and implement strategies to cope with the multi-screening trend of consumers.

Delivery costs and options will also make a big difference, but according the Elie Shuggie from eBay Australia, it isn’t just enough to get the supply chain right as the age of the discerning consumer is upon us.

“Buyers and sellers want to know that’s happening in their terms so they want clear information in the right language – you need to show the buyer that you’ve dropped the parcel and then you need to show them again that it’s been delivered”

We’ve now entered an age where online customer service is paramount to the success of pureplay and omnichannel retailers. According the eBay shipping expert, “free returns is now the industry standard” and it can also add favour if you offer a postage label inside the box.

There was also a lot of discussion about the importance of speed when delivering online goods. According to Dirk van Lammeren, the General Manager of the eCommerce Program at Australia Post, consumers “don’t see your channels, they see your brand”


This idea was then countered by Justus Wilde, the Founder of Amblique consulting, “speed drives conversion and frequency. 77% of carts are abandoned and 53% of this is related to freight.”

According to Executive Director of, David Shafer, “customers are the company’s biggest asset”. So even if you choose to focus on the brand, or the speed of delivery, the forefront of your agenda should be to make sure the customer is happy. However, it was only the means with which to please the customer that differed.

The Free Delivery Conundrum

Being a logistics conference, delivery costs were some of the most hotly discussed issues at this event.

Adam MacArthur, CEO of ParcelPoint, discussed the pros and cons of free delivery. “Free delivery is a massive conversion driver, but it also has cost considerations as well.” Adam suggested that if free delivery creates too many overheads on the business, retailers should offer a range of delivery options at the check-out including a more expensive express option.


Of course, each different retailer will have its own unique problems that need to be resolved in the fulfillment of bought goods. Sharon MacDonald, the General Manager of Customer Experience at Star Track, suggested that customers are willing to pay extra for delivery if they receive real-time tracking information and great service.

According to Sharon, “[Star Track] may charge a higher price but we pride ourselves on service and being adaptable.”

But as Jethro Marks, Director of Mercury Retail discusses; “If you haven’t made the right use of the right technology at the right time then you’re not making use of your network”

Let us know what strategies you think are the most efficient for a growing online retail market. We’re looking forward to seeing what the experts have to say next year.

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