It’s been almost a week since Passel launched at Pookipoiga.

There have been few surprises so far. Obviously, some lessons can only be learned in a live environment, but we’re doing well.

But, as Donald Rumsfeld and Stephen Driscoll are so fond of saying – there are the unknown unknowns. Things that we didn’t even think we would have to explore or discover.

The Passel team has a wealth of experience in logistics and tech. We’re well supported by an Advisory Board, mentors, and a substantial number of people who are always happy to offer advice. In addition to that, the Pookipoiga team are super people whose number one priority is to make the customer happy.

So, we’re well-prepared. But not immune to the unexpected. There is always the unexpected and we’re humble enough to know that we do not know everything.

One of our first deliveries was when a customer requested we deliver to a parcel locker at Australia Post. This seems like a fairly straight-forward task.

The receiver provided the address of the post office, along with a code to a locker.

I did this delivery myself, because lean startup.

Here’s how it went:

First, there is not very much parking at the post office. So, a couple of laps around the block later a nice guy waved to me that he was leaving and I ducked into the vacant space.

I went to the parcel locker and could not see an option to deliver an item. So I tried sending, but that was the wrong option. I tried collecting because I thought that would open the locker. I punched in the code provided by the receiver, but the locker then wanted an additional code and neither I, my customer, or the receiver had the extra code.

Ok.

So, then I went and joined the queue at the counter. I figured the Post Office Staff could help me.

Did I mention the item weighed 200 grams?

I made it to the front of the line and explained my problem to the very polite post office guy. His reply:

“You have to send it to the parcel locker, but you can’t just mail it to the parcel locker, so it’s going to cost $7.60”.

I’m rarely speechless. “I’m sorry, what?”

He confirmed that I would have to send the envelope to the parcel locker via parcel post for a cost of $7.60.

I pointed out to him that the parcel locker was about 5 metres from where we were standing.

He was aware of that but reconfirmed that it would indeed cost me $7.60. There were no other options.

So, not wanting to let anyone down, I paid the $7.60. He printed a label and then tossed the envelope on a pile of parcels. So the $7.60 wasn’t even an instant delivery service!

Then I called my co-founder and we updated the service description in Shopify to include the following:

“Guaranteed 3-hour delivery. (Excludes PO Boxes and Parcel Lockers)”.

I believe that Australia Post has missed an opportunity here, but it wasn’t until listening to Episode 78 of the Postal Hub Podcast (China Last Mile) that I realised what the opportunity was.

Auspost has a network of parcel lockers all around the country. Parcel Lockers are part of the last-mile solution. They are clearly not a home delivery option, but I accept that not everyone wants their online orders quickly and some people don’t want things delivered to their home in the evenings, on weekends or on public holidays.

However, not every company wants to use Australia Post, and not everyone wants to adhere to the complex and wordy terms and conditions.

Australia Post could, perhaps, open up the parcel locker network to other couriers, or even normal people, for a nominal fee – maybe just $1. This would result in greater utilisation of the fixed asset, a better experience for the general public (Auspost, are, after all, owned by the Australian Government), and would increase foot traffic to Australia Post retail locations. That’s a big win.

Until then, I guess, they can continue to try and charge $1 a metre for final mile delivery.

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