Like many smaller businesses that have ecommerce concerns, finding the right courier can be a real challenge – especially if you need someone to handle the Fulfilment side of things as well. We will discuss the potential benefits from using a Fulfilment company in our next blog so do come back to read more but for now, we’ve been doing some ‘courier’ homework on your behalf!
We offer a number of our Search Engine Marketing clients advice on how best to navigate delivery of their goods (especially ecommerce clients) and how to approach your delivery options in a cost effective, yet practical way.
Let’s start with the basics
In an ecommerce situation or indeed any situation where you have items that need to be posted there are so many concerns to think about:
How shall I pack it?
What insurance do I need?
What if it gets lost?
How much do I charge?
These are all things that may seem simple at first glance but that actually pose quite a few challenges to say the least.
Yes but what do I focus on?
The main thing about finding the right courier company is to ensure that you are clear about what you want.
Are your items small and perhaps low value in terms of insurance or are they enormous and high value?
Obviously lower value parcels can be sent in a variety of ways. If you want some security with your parcels, but know that should one get lost it wouldn’t be the end of the world, then you might want to try Royal Mail. They offer reasonably rates to businesses that are generally very reliable.
However, if time constraints are important to you (for instance if you have clients that request for items to arrive more quickly) then you may want to consider something like Recorded Delivery. This option offers some insurance and requires a signature upon delivery. Usually delivery times in the UK mainland are two to three working days (but Royal Mail does suggest you allow for up to 5 working days for a parcel to arrive).
However, if you want guaranteed delivery, then you could try Royal Mail’s Special Delivery which offers guaranteed next working day delivery by 1pm or if it’s really urgent by 9am. Obviously there is additional cost involved for these kinds of services – but that said they are actually very reliable and offer a relatively good tracking service with them.
This kind of option can be particularly useful for your customers who will order say on a Monday and can see where their parcel is within the delivery system.
The key is to research and go with the best service available. It shouldn’t always be an issue of price. The main focus should be on the attitude of the courier company and their service options.
What variables do I have to take into account?
Whether you’re using a big courier service firm or Royal Mail there are particular things to look out for and to ask to find the best solution:
Depending on the service you use and the time of week and year, the collection/delivery times can vary tremendously. If you’re using a consumer delivery service keep in mind that busy periods such as Christmas or even weekends might delay the progress of your package(s) where as professional business delivery services will have a better system of dealing with a high volume of loads. You will also have to double check cut-off times for deliveries, which, again, will vary depending on postcode, distance and timing.
Size, shape, weight can all affect price if using the Post Office/Royal Mail but larger parcels and packages sent through a courier service is not necessarily going to cost that much more. The major expense is when an item is “fast-tracked.” Average delivery time is within two to three days; the only element that makes the cost go up is when you want a package delivered within a certain time. End-of-business-day delivery is generally more cheaper than a specified time. Watch out for hidden charges or costs. Some delivery companies charge additional fees that you may not be aware of unless you ask them a lot of questions about their delivery policy.
What’s wrong with using Royal Mail?
There’s nothing wrong with using Royal Mail and in fact, a number of our Search Engine Marketing clients use Royal Mail every single day, for both express and traditional deliveries so we have it on relatively good authority that the services you’ll get are actually extremely good and very reliable.
The Royal Mail service can guarantee next day delivery (with an additional charge of course) and they generally receive positive reviews. The simplicities of using Royal Mail are one of their major benefits. The options are all relatively self-explanatory and they cover a broad range of delivery and collection options including:
- First/second class mail options
- Signed for/recorded delivery options
- Special Delivery (specified time and day)
- Collection from your business
- Provision of ‘mail sacks’ for high numbers of parcels
- Dedicated client account managers
However, courier companies also offer mail services to customers. These services can often undercut Royal Mail at a cheaper price to send bulk mail. Many businesses prefer to send large amounts of post through a courier service – but do bear in mind that the flexibility on offer may not be quite as simple as it is with Royal Mail.
When you’re running a business and when it comes to finding a courier service all you need to be sure of is that they are reliable and can get products, documents and packages to all your customers, partners and associates on time without any problems.
Are there any others worth looking at?
Absolutely – when you’re looking for the right service you want to make sure you’ve checked out a number of options.
For larger parcels that have value – whether time sensitive or not, then Parcel Force can be a good option.
They also offer a number of overseas options (although you may not always find these to be the cheapest).
However that said, their website at www.parcelforce.com does allow you to get an approximate costing so it’s worth checking it out.
Also, www.ups.com offers a number of delivery options for things like documents right through to larger items. The great thing here is that with UPS you can get deals on deliveries – especially if you generally have the same weight on a number of parcels. You can often barter a little on price for the work and obviously there is a great tracking service.
However, bear in mind that unlike Royal Mail where a sorting office is usually relatively close to most people in the UK, with a larger courier company you may need to consider those clients who might have to travel ten or fifteen miles to collect a parcel if they’re out.
This is most likely not going to make people very happy so be sure to check this out BEFORE signing up for anything.
If you want to check out a number of delivery options then Parcel Monkey is definitely worth a look. Often used by Ebayers it offers a great selection of delivery options and items for collection and delivery are very reliable. The service also includes International deliveries as well as ‘same day’ with some options offering you the lowest delivery costs in the UK. You can find the website here: www.parcelmonkey.com