With convenience the "name of the game" in the retail sector, it's worth noting there's another sector that delivers convenience as one of its key benefits.
Many are not aware of the breadth and depth of outsourcing services offered by Australian Disability Services (ADEs).
ADEs fill a significant need in the social landscape, providing meaningful employment opportunities for people with severe disabilities. More than 200 not-for-profit organisations operate over 400 ADEs nationally, employing over 20,000 "supported employees" who have severe disabilities that impact on their ability to be employed in the open labour market.
For decades, many leading Australians firms have contracted in the services of ADEs to produce a wide range of quality products and services. Nevertheless, most Australians would not even realise they have recently purchased a good that was produced, packed or distributed by an ADE.
One such contracting arrangement exists between ADE Packforce and Staedtler in Australia for packaging work for some of their well-known range of stationery products, including pens, pencils, erasers and sharpeners.
Paul Cashmore, managing director of Staedtler, said when the decision was made to close its Australian production facility after 40 years, it needed to outsource a considerable volume of blister card work and other specialised packaging projects.
"We chose to outsource our requirements to a reliable and efficient local organisation," he said.
"The transition from our in-house manufacturing to the Packforce operation has been very successful, contributing to a seamless transfer of operations in the eyes of our customers."
Across the nation, ACEs are involved in preparing, assembling, and packaging a wide variety of products for the retail market, with items such as Mother's Day gift packs, gift-with-purchase items, cosmetics packs, hair care products, confectionery and hardware items, computer accessories, DVDs and more.
While Packforce specialises in packaging solutions, ADEs across the country vary substantially in both size and type of business activity they engage in. Many operate from factory outlets, while others provide work and training in the community or at the worksites of employers. Services include property maintenance, catering, commercial laundry, printing, mailing and document shredding to name a few.
ADEs also provide a wide range of training options for their supported employees, including accredited courses and traineeships.
The chief executive of National Disability Services, Ken Baker, notes many supported employees are also able to make the transition to mainstream employment due to the training and skills they obtain when working in an ADE.
"It's important to point out that people with disabilities working in ADEs enjoy many other benefits besides the satisfaction of being gainfully employed," he said.
"They make new friends experience integration into the wider community, and become more socially adept through activities such as using public transport.
"We know without the benefit of gainful employment, many people with disabilities become socially isolated and live unfulfilled lives. Studies have shown that the general health and wellbeing of people with disabilities in employment is significantly better than those without.
"Many ADEs offer high quality, competitively prices value-adding services such as packaging and assembly that may enable firms to realise significant savings in the costs of production and distribution of their goods.
"These are professional businesses offering convenient quality services and meaningful employment — providing a win-win for their clients and employees alike."