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How One Postal Service Is Tapping into Ecommerce

There’s a lot of talk about how postal services around the world can survive given falling letter volume, and some are experimenting more than others. One such entity is Australia Post, which has launched a program this year that brings it into the world of ecommerce.

In May, Australia Post signed an agreement with the Alibaba Group to set up its own branded storefront on Tmall, the Chinese B2C marketplace, where it is helping small and medium-sized businesses from Australia sell their products to shoppers in China. The postal service then provides the logistics required by retailers to ship orders from Australia to their buyers in China.

In a blog post this summer, Alibaba explained the program, quoting Steven Foo, head of international supply management for Australia Post:

“Merchants that come on board get a one-stop shop service. There’s no sign up fee or deposit – we’ve absorbed that – and we provide them with very competitive shipping rates specifically for this program. But we also have translation done for them at basically no cost and a customer service team on the ground in Hangzhou answering queries 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Plus we have data and analytics that helps them understand how similar products sell in China, giving them an idea of how they should be marketing their product.”

SmartCompany article about the agreement said Alibaba had identified growing demand among Chinese consumers for Australian products, particularly in the baby care, health and nutrition, and beauty industries. While larger companies can work directly with Alibaba, “the Australia Post option may be better suited to small companies that are looking to build their brands.”

The publication quoted an Alibaba spokesperson explaining, “Chinese consumers are very brand-conscious, so working with Australia Post would allow the companies to tap into “brand Australia.””

Interestingly, the Alizila blog post also revealed how Australia Post is making it easier for Australians to use Alibaba’s Alipay payment service to purchase items from Tmall and Taobao – the service is targeted at Chinese immigrants, expats and students in Australia.

While there is a decrease in letter mail around the world thanks to the Internet and email, packages are experiencing strong growth due to online shopping. By facilitating cross border trade, Australia Post is capitalizing on that trend.

Should the U.S. Postal Service investigate such initiatives?

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.