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Couriers and Alternative Delivery Services

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 24 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Couriers Delivery Services Security

One of the most important aspects of any online business is how it handles its deliveries. Customers that regularly shop online consistently state that efficient delivery is one of the main reasons they return to an online retailer they have bought from before. It’s no accident that some of the most successful online businesses have fast and efficient fulfilment operations at the core of their enterprises.

Clearly the Royal Mail is most businesses first port of call when thinking about delivery mechanisms for their online operations. Increasingly, however, many new businesses are choosing to use alternative services from independent couriers.

Couriers can also be used alongside the normal delivery services you have in place from Royal Mail when you want to offer even faster delivery times for your customers. Many online businesses offer a selection of delivery options include those via courier services. As some customers are prepared to pay a premium price to get their goods delivered in the shortest possible time, it makes commercial sense to offer these services within your online business.

Couriers and Overseas Delivery

As your online business has a potential global audience you may find that you have to ship your businesses goods to any part of the world. International courier services can be an efficient way of organising these deliveries. Companies including DHL, FedEx and UPS have global operations that can ship your packages for delivery the next day. Their operations are also have high levels of security, which may be important if your business is shipping high value goods.

International couriers also have the advantage in that they take care of customs clearance of the packages you send. You pay a premium price for these services of course, but if your customers demand these services providing them as delivery options should be incorporated into your online business.

How to Choose a Courier

Ask the couriers you have on your shortlist, the follow questions to help you find the perfect courier for your business:
  • Does the couriers service cover the areas you need to ship to?
  • What kind of security does the couriers business use to protect shipments from tampering?
  • Has the courier any experience of shipping the specific goods your business sells?
  • Are they adequately insured against loss?
  • Does the couriers service have efficiency statistics you can see
  • Are the couriers rates and fees competitive in the marketplace?

International Delivery Services

If your online business sells large bulky items that will need to be shipped internationally, hiring a freight forwarder to handle the shipping requirements of each consignment is money well spent. Freight forwarders specialise in consolidating shipments together to reduce the overall costs to the business sending the items.

They can also help with insurance, security and the completion of the documentation that must accompany each consignment as it leaves the UK. You can read more about freight forwarders and locate your nearest one on the BIFA (British International Freight Association) website. Or by calling their enquiry line on: 020 8844 2266.

Your priority as the business owner is to ship the goods that your customers have ordered as fast as possible by whatever means is available. Whether you are shipping inland or overseas you have four basic choices of transportation including air, sea, rail and road. You must choose the best transport type to use.

Your choice will be influenced by a number of factors:

Speed of Delivery
How fast your customer would like their order delivered is a major factor. Clearly air transport is the fastest transport type, but is also the most expensive. Also, if your business sells perishable goods, air freight may be the only viable transport type.

The Size of the Goods Being Shipped
Very large items are better suited to road, rail or sea transport. A haulage company will be able to advise you about which transport type would suit your business.

The Transport Infrastructure of the Destination Country
You may find that you have to arrange a number of transport types to get the goods to their final destination. Some countries don’t have a well developed transport network.

Special Delivery Requirements
Some of your customers may have special deliver requirements that they would like your business to meet. Look at these requirements in detail before accepting the order to ensure you can meet these.

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