When it comes to selling online, one of the most important aspects is finding the best courier service to grow your business. You need to ensure that you provide a positive shipping experience in order to enjoy more business growth and success.
Fortunately, once your customers are content with the delivery of their items, you’re more likely to enjoy an increase in repeat sales and be able to build a better online reputation that can result in more first-time sales.
But how do you compare courier services? Aren’t delivery companies all the same? What sort of qualities should you be looking for? What do online shoppers expect?
We’ve created a courier comparison checklist to help you find the best courier service to support your business and build better relationships with your customers. The checklist covers some of the key areas you can consider when drawing comparisons between couriers.
- Speed of delivery
- Size and weight limitations
- Proof of delivery
- Customer service
- Cost to value
- Courier insurance
If price is priority for you, take a look at our article on how to find the cheapest courier service for your business. However, it’s important to understand that the most affordable solution may not provide the best service for your customers.
Why is comparing courier services important?
As technology has advanced and made our lives easier and busier than ever before, our buying habits and expectations of online businesses has also changed.
On top of you needing to manage your business and team every day, online buyers prefer fast and efficient delivery times, quality customer service and expect great online shopping experiences all around.
…No pressure, right?
But, if you choose the right courier service, you can enhance the shipping experience for your customers which is likely to boost your sales, reputation and overall growth.
It’s a win-win.
Here are six key factors you can explore about your potential courier services to make sure that your shipping company is delivering to your expectations.
1. Speed of delivery
The time it takes for your customers to receive their items from your courier service can impact the reputation of your business and increase (or decrease) your overall sales. This is because the happier your customers are, the more likely they are to buy again from you.
A recent survey on delivery times found that most customers buying online in the United Kingdom expect a maximum delivery time of three to five days. If your competition is high, then you may need even shorter delivery times – especially when selling on marketplaces.
Therefore, it can be a good idea to explore your opportunities with inventory management software, which can automate many different tasks and maximise the efficiency of your order fulfilment processes.
Take the time to research what your competitors are doing and send out a survey or social media poll to see what your customers expect from online deliveries.
After all, the more research you do, then the more likely you are to get the shipping experience right for your customers.
If next day delivery or same day delivery is essential for your industry and business, you may not necessarily need to pay more for a faster courier service. You can factor these extra costs into the shipping fees your customers pay you.
But won’t that reduce sales for your business?
While offering free shipping certainly has its advantages, a recent survey found most online shoppers in the United Kingdom are willing to pay extra fees for faster delivery times. This trend is being driven by younger generations.
This is great news for smaller online business owners, as you can reduce the overall costs for selling products online and use the profits and savings to scale your business.
2. Size and weight limitations
It’s worth noting that the size and weight of your products may affect the delivery partner you choose, either due to extra costs for delivering larger items or because some courier services do not have the means to carry big and heavy products.
Courier services use volumetric weight to measure your items, which helps them to determine how large and heavy your products are. This is taken as the actual weight of the item and will impact whether or not they are able to ship and deliver your products.
Most delivery companies use the following sum to work out the weight of your items:
(Length x width x depth) ÷ 6,000* = weight of your products
*Delivery company DHL divides items by 5,000.
A quick and simple way to work out the weight of your items is to find your products listed on digital marketplaces. Generally speaking, you will be able to see a weight listed in the product details on platforms such as Amazon or eBay.
3. Proof of delivery
If your items don’t get to where they need to be on time, you’re going to have some unhappy customers on your hands!
Be on the lookout for courier services that can provide you proof of delivery so that you can be certain your shipping company is delivering to your expectations.
Depending on the needs of your customers and the types of products you sell, it may be worthwhile to use a shipping partner that provides parcel tracking or recorded delivery options to ensure peace of mind for both you and your customers.
The better the delivery experience for your customers, the less hassle you are likely to receive on your end for any problems encountered from your chosen courier service.
Some delivery companies will go one step further and send a text message to your customers to let them know the exact time and date to expect their delivery and the name of their delivery driver. This personal touch creates a great shipping experience.
Keep in mind that if you are an international seller looking to sell in the United Kingdom or vice versa, online delivery tracking can be an important service for building trust with an international audience, increasing your sales and scaling your business.
Want to expand your business overseas? Check out our exhaustive list of 60 resources to help you expand your eCommerce business internationally.
4. Customer service
Even though your deliveries are handled by a separate company, your customers associate a great (or terrible!) shipping experience with your business – not the courier service you use.
The customer service provided by delivery companies may not be completely within your control, but it’s worth considering the reputation of your chosen shipping partner. You can do this by checking out online reviews and drawing your own conclusions.
As an online business, it’s worth remembering the only human interaction your customers are likely to have with you is through your courier service. How the delivery driver behaves in front of your customers may impact how likely they are to buy from you again.
At the same time, there are problems surrounding delivery companies. Being aware of common issues your customers may experience when buying online and receiving deliveries can help you to find the right courier service for your business.
Some unhappy customers may voice their issues with you on social media, leave negative reviews or even grumble to their friends in real life. You’ll want to be monitoring the whole shipping experience your customers receive before any delivery problems escalate.
If you do receive delivery service complaints, how you handle and resolve the issue speaks volumes about your business. This is why it’s important to consider the process your customers may have to go through in order to find out where their missing items are.
5. Cost to value
As an online business owner, you’re likely to be aware that the delivery costs for outsourcing shipping operations can add up quickly, which is why you need to be able to work out your delivery costs against the value provided for your business.
This can be challenging as it’s difficult to attach a measurable numerical value when you’re improving customer experience. While increasing your sales is almost always going to be your number one goal, you also need to measure and monitor your success in other (less quantifiable) ways.
You can measure the value delivered to your business by your chosen courier services through checking your reviews or sending out a quick survey to see how happy your customers are with the shipping experience provided to them.
Be careful who you contact though – GDPR is now in action and this means you’ll need express permission to be able to contact your customers.
Remember, the cheapest courier service may not equal the best value.
While it is understandable you’ll want to be keeping your overhead costs low, cheap courier services may not deliver the positive shipping experience you or your customers are expecting.
Although price is going to be an important factor for most online sellers, it’s advisable not to start your research for the best courier service for your business based on price alone. If you provide a poor shipping experience, this is likely to reduce your overall sales and reputation.
You should only make a decision on shipping and delivery costs when you have taken the time to verify that your courier service can deliver all of the things you are looking for.
6. Parcel insurance
Accidents can happen. Even the best courier services can sometimes deliver your products later than expected and packages can turn up damaged or not turn up at all.
While not every online seller will want to pay extra costs to cover deliveries, courier insurance can alleviate the worry of your products not being shipped or delivered as expected.
However, it’s important to understand that parcel delivery insurance won’t always protect your business. Although many delivery companies price shipping insurance at an affordable rate, you may find your products are not covered in certain courier insurance policies.
Typical items you may assume to be protected by parcel insurance, such as glass, ceramics or electrical goods, are not always covered by every courier service’s insurance policy.
This is why it’s important to read your courier service’s terms and conditions carefully and check the type of items you sell are covered before investing in parcel insurance.
It’s also worth being aware that some courier services do offer money-back guarantees, in the event that your products are delivered later than agreed.
The right courier service builds trust and increases sales
When it comes to comparing delivery companies, this courier comparison checklist should go some way in helping you find the right solution to support the growth of your business.
If you can get the shipping experience right for your customers, you’ll start to build more trust in your online business, boost your online reputation and increase your overall sales.
Finding the best courier service may seem like a challenging task, but it is certainly a worthwhile investment of your time. Want to reach even more customers? Download our guide filled with ideas and best practices for growing your online business.