As the busy Halloween and Christmas period nears, Australia Post’s online parcel delivery system has experienced yet another outage – less than one week since the last major outage on October 16th.
Last week’s crash impacted several Australian businesses, and once again retailers – especially SMEs – are voicing their frustration with the government-owned logistics company.
Sources have advised ChannelNews that sales relating to the Halloween season have been significantly impacted by the outage.
Currently, Australia Post’s website states its shipping & tracking API system, plus its label printing service, has not been fixed and is still under investigation.
One SME online retailer states that at the time of the outage, they had 500 orders which could not be posted, and were awaiting labels from Australia Post’s system. As the outage passed 5pm on October 23rd, the retailer estimates the number of affected orders to exceed 1500.
Sources state Australia Post’s eParcel API & associated services have experienced weekly outages for the past several months.
They affirm major outages occur at least twice yearly, generally lasting between 24 – 48 hours, and most often occur during peak retail times i.e. from late October onwards.
In addition to financial loss, some retailers are frustrated that frequent outages from their “primary freight provider” – especially around the holiday period – negatively effect their customer service levels.
As at 9:38am AEDT on October 23rd, Australia Post’s shipping & tracking API (i.e. Enterprise API gateway) displayed sporadic authorisation errors – by 8:51am AEDT on October 24th, the company’s website advises the matter is still not fixed and is under investigation.
Australia Post’s label print service has also been affected.
At 9pm AEDT on October 23rd, the company’s website advised that there would be a service outage for about 30 minutes, as technical teams sought to implement changes to restore service.
The timing is likely to be especially frustrating for retailers, who would be looking to shift weekend orders.
Australia Post’s label print service is still under investigation, as the company seeks to find a fix.
Concerning the impending entry of Amazon, Australia Post’s frequent outages have raised concerns for SME/SMB retailers.
One e-commerce retailer states of the impact on SMBs:
“SMBs like ours are highly reliant on outsourced IT infrastructure such as Australia Posts Label Printing Service (LPS) and API systems which do not have the same levels of support when things go wrong. We are at the mercy of these outsourced systems and can do very little on our end to continue to carry on operations as normal”
“Major outages have very little impact to e-commerce giants like Amazon because they spend millions of dollars on stand-alone IT systems and also receive dedicated support from Australia Post”.
Such outages could, however, be a major stumbling block for Amazon, who are looking to partner with Australia Post, Ingram Micro, and Synnex to shift millions of parcels when Amazon launch in Australia.
At this stage, Australia Post has not commented, however, status reports on their website indicate some customers could get either intermittent authorisation errors, or a 401 error. It prevents customers from either logging in, or processing a label, which is an essential part of Australia Post’s delivery mechanism.
One solution being offered suggests that customers re-enter the same request process – Australia Post claims it will not result in duplicate processes being registered on their system.
The company has not specified exactly how many customers have been affected.
Many retailers hope Australia Post will hear their frustrations and seek to resolve frequent outages, especially as they affect the lucrative holiday period.
The news comes as the Federal Government-backed business endeavours to crank up revenues from the forthcoming Halloween season.