How AusPost dealt with Christmas parcel volumes in April

With an unprecedented amount of mail suddenly coming through, the Australia Post digital applications team was relieved they had just done a peak load readiness check.

Image of blurred people walking in front of an Australian Post office
Australia Post 2020

With an unprecedented amount of mail suddenly coming through during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown due to panic buying, the Australia Post platform engineering team was relieved they had done a peak load readiness check before parcel volume hit its peak.

In April 2020, Australia Post recorded 340 million transactions—that’s double the volume in April 2019 (140 million) and 70 per cent higher than December 2019’s 200 million transactions, which is usually the peak time of the year due to Christmas shopping.

In April 2020, user registrations for tracking services also increased by 30 per cent compared to December 2019, while recorded parcel tracking numbers were 40 per cent higher than the Christmas month.

Australia Post also introduced a pharmaceuticals delivery scheme to send vulnerable customers their prescription medication free of charge. That generated a lot of new registrations. To top it all off, April marks the time of the year for PO boxes renewal for the entire country, which Australia Post head of platform engineering Andrew Nette described as a very intensive period, with just one chance to get it right.

He told Computerworld Australia that the COVID-induced spike happened during the traditional Easter peak. Just before Easter, expecting a COVID-induced wave of packages, Nette’s team went through a very rapid process of checking the systems for peak load readiness, a process that usually takes place before Christmas. This check-up ensures that servers can scale but also that the right people are available.

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