New Zealand Post Auckland operation at full stretch

Local media reports that a surge in e-commerce due to the national pandemic lockdown is close to overwhelming New Zealand Post’s Auckland operation.

The lockdown has been in operation for 11 weeks, and over that period, Aucklanders have spent more than NZD $700 million online, $122m more than the same period in 2020.

The surge demand has caught the postal operator off guard and it says there are no more vans left for it to hire in the city as it works at peak capacity – even before the expected Christmas peak season.

NZ Post chief customer officer Brian Dobson said this was the busiest they had ever been. “Our busiest week of the year tends to be around Black Friday, our projections are showing that the last five weeks’ worth of online sales in Auckland will have all been bigger than Black Friday last year.”

To meet lockdown demand, New Zealand Post has hired 400 vans and taken on 800 temporary workers in Auckland. The postal operator says they need another 300 drivers but simply can’t get the vans for those extra staff to drive.

Dobson said, ahead of the peak season, ”There are limits on how much you can scale up … we’ve exceeded our targets in terms of Auckland deliveries already.

“We do have a little bit of upside from where we are but there are some physical limits and there’s not much delivery capacity beyond the level that we’re achieving at the moment.”

Of the two million parcels processed around the country, 750,000 a day are in Auckland. The postal operator has extended its operating hours to try to manage the surge, and staff are working extra shifts. One postal worker said, “We only used to process maybe about 2000, 3000 [parcels] plus doing forward local and same-day forward, but because it has been so busy in the Auckland region, we can average now probably up to about 10,000.”

Back office workers are helping sort parcels and load vans to help frontline workers keep up with the pace. At the moment they are keeping up the pace, but there’s no guarantee that things will get easier – possibly until January.