As reported exclusively by ARN (February 6), Microsoft has confirmed that Australia Post will be handling the ordering and logistics services for Microsoft's long-awaited gaming console, Xbox.
With the launch date scheduled for March 14, Xbox will be supplied to authorised retailers through Australia Post's Post Logistics and Shared Services Division. Under the agreement, Australia Post will provide warehousing, inventory management, order picking, assembly and consolidation, kitting, scan packaging, return management and delivery services for Xbox.
"Microsoft has been working on the Australia Post deal for some time," said Alan Bowman, Microsoft Australia's Xbox director, earlier today. "We needed a distribution partner that could provide a comprehensive financial transaction management service, fully integrated with the logistics function. We believe Australia Post does this very well."
It is the first time Microsoft has opted for a logistics partner other than its traditional distributors Ingram Micro, Tech Pacific and Express Data. However, it's not Australia Post's first foray into IT distribution, having distributed telecommunications products for Telstra for some time.
"Australia Post has been providing outsourced logistics and financial transaction management services for quite some time now," said Alec Ceselli, general manager of the Post Logistics division. "We know how to do it well and our network and infrastructure mean we can handle assignments of any size."
Microsoft has also revealed it has signed a sub-distribution agreement with Queensland-based All Interactive Distribution to supply Xbox consoles and games to around 40 independent dealers and video store outlets. Two such video store outlets are Blockbuster and Video Ezy.
Around 100,000 Xbox consoles will be available in the first three months. Bowman said that while it will be a "constricted business", Microsoft is hoping to ensure a "consistent flow [of consoles] on a week-by-week basis".