AS RETAILERS throughout Australia brace themselves for the impact of online giant Amazon's launch down under, existing regulatory restrictions in the logistics sector may prove to be the Achilles heel in the eCommerce brand's influence.
With the National Transport Commission expecting national freight task to grow by 26% in the next decade, some industry members warn Amazon's presence will put further pressure on supply chains, namely in the residential delivery space.
Australian Logistics Council managing director Michael Kilgariff is one of the voices who say planning must come sooner rather than later.
"We are already seeing significant challenges around road congestion in major cities, curfews and other restrictions imposed on freight facilities, and issues with delivering goods to large-scale new residential apartment developments that lack adequate freight facilities," Mr Kilgariff said.
"Unless we make the necessary improvements to freight infrastructure now, then consumer expectations around rapid delivery of goods - which is a big part of the Amazon brand - simply won't be met."
Mr Kilgariff believes a number of major improvements to transport infrastructure will need to take place to sustain the expanding industry, including allowing key freight facilities and routes to operate 24/7.
"Slapping bans and curfews on truck movements will not solve the problem," Mr Kilgariff said.
"Our planning structures need to consider the needs of freight far more than they currently do.
"Otherwise we're going to end up with apartment towers full of angry residents who can't get their goods delivered, and higher consumer prices and slower delivery times as a result of increasingly congested roads."
Looking ahead, MrKilgariff said the issues of the 'last mile' in urban centres needed a different approach.
"The solution is expected to come from greater use of technology, and in particular looking at urban consolidation/distribution stations," Mr Kilgariff said.
"These can provide for multi-modal routing systems using bicycles, walkers and electronic vans to facilitate freight delivery in densely populated areas."
At a federal level, answers are in the works. An inquiry into the issue of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is under way following a commitment to the ALC from the Federal Government last year.
A final report is expected to be provided to the minister by March next year.