February 16, 2018

How To Choose The Right Courier For Your Business

Let's explore the functions of a courier, and all of the criteria a business should consider when choosing a courier to rely on for their transportation and delivery operations.

Businesses and consumers interact differently with couriers.

Whether consumers order items from their favorite retailer for home delivery or want to send an item from point A to point B, the criteria for good service tends to be pretty similar across the board:

  1. Will this item get to my desired location on time?
  2. Can I track it?
  3. Will it get there in good condition?

While these are important factors on the business side as well, they are limited.

Many companies rely on courier services to keep their business going and their customers satisfied.

In this post, we're going to explore the functions of a courier, and all of the criteria a business should consider when choosing a courier to rely on for their transportation and delivery operations.

What are Couriers and what do they do?

Put simply, a courier service is a company that delivers goods.

This delivery can occur within businesses, between businesses and consumers or vice versa. While many businesses engage a particular courier service for all or most of their deliveries, consumers can also hire some couriers for one-off deliveries.

While the word “courier” tends to be interpreted as synonymous with a fast, short-range delivery, parcel delivery by courier doesn’t have to be just across town—it can also mean delivery across the world.

In fact, couriers can take many forms. In some cities, in addition to trucks and vans, they may operate on bicycles or motorcycles. For longer distance deliveries, they can avail themselves of long-haul trucks, railways and aircraft.

The Items Couriers Deliver

The products a courier service delivers can vary significantly.

The average consumer’s typical experience with couriers consists of receiving the items they ordered off of Amazon with FedEx or UPS.

The reality of what courier services can deliver is much more complex.

From refrigerated courier services—delivering temperature controlled items such as seafood, biological and pharmaceutical products—to courier companies that deliver secure, sensitive documents, there is quite a bit of specialization in the industry.

The key for consumers and businesses alike is finding a courier company that will do the best job with the items they send and receive.

Couriers vs. Standard Mail

Doesn’t a standard mail service deliver just about anything as well? What’s the difference?

The main difference between courier services and standard mail services lies in the fact that couriers are a premium service.

Couriers provide benefits across the board that cannot be met by standard mail services:

1. Faster delivery times

Through higher efficiency and specialization, couriers are able to deliver products more quickly than a standard mail service, often guaranteeing a specific date and even time block.

2. Order and delivery tracking

Often, the post office can provide you with a date range of when they believe a package or letter will be delivered. With a courier, online order tracking is much more robust and shippers and recipients know exactly when a package will be delivered on a specific day.

3. Higher security

Courier services often require signatures on items they deliver, upping the element of security.

4. Specialization

Couriers can set themselves apart considerably from standard mail services through specialization. Courier companies that can safely transport sensitive documents or temperature controlled substances can simply not be matched by a standard mail service.

5. Higher level of convenience

Couriers typically pick up from the homes of consumers or from a company’s warehouse, eliminating the hassle of taking extra steps throughout the process such as going to the post office.

How the Delivery Landscape is Changing

Courier services are the established method of transportation and delivery for most shippers, but recent trends and projected growth statistics show that use of couriers is only going to increase in the coming years.

Here’s a great graph from Statista depicting 2015 vs. projected 2019 market size for the courier services industry:

courier market size

Here’s another graph showing projected courier revenue growth (in billions) across the globe:

courier market growth

Clearly, the courier market is growing.

What’s Behind This Trend?

Couriers are the most prominent players in last mile delivery, parcel delivery from a warehouse directly to its ultimate destination.

And the standards that businesses and consumers have attached to last mile delivery are continually increasing due to improvements in logistics and delivery technology, fueling our on-demand economy.

As standards and demand for on-demand delivery and transportation increase, so will the role of couriers as a premium service in the delivery of products.

How to Choose the Right Courier

So we know what a courier does, the benefits of using a courier and why demand for couriers is increasing—but with all of this growing demand, how can businesses be confident choosing one courier service over another?

There are many criteria for choosing the right courier.

Let’s explore some of the most important ones so that you can make this decision with confidence!

Availability

It sounds so simple, but with today’s high demand, couriers are serving multiple companies with complex needs. Make sure that the courier you choose is aware of the average amount they will be needed on a monthly basis and when these engagements will typically take place.

Insurance and Security

What happens if your goods don’t arrive to the desired location or if they arrive damaged? It’s essential to protect your company from liability and hire a courier that gives you peace of mind in this regard. Make sure you research your courier’s insurance coverage and make an informed decision.

Cost

While couriers offer a premium service compared to mail, that doesn’t alway mean they are expensive. Be sure to stay informed on the costs of doing business with a particular courier service, but also realize that cost is not always correlated to level of service.

Local vs. National or Global

If the range within which you need to transport your goods is small, consider going with a local company. Local couriers tend to be more efficient and flexible than larger companies working on a local scale.

Specialization

Make sure the courier you are considering is equipped with the ability to efficiently and successfully transport and delivery the goods you need to move. For example, if you manufacture goods that require temperature-controlled transportation, it makes sense to work with a company that specializes in refrigerated transportation.

Technology

It’s also important to be informed on the type of delivery and tracking technology that your courier uses. Bad or outdated technology can lead to a lower delivery success rate and lower customer satisfaction.

In a delivery and logistics field teeming with innovative technology, the technology a courier uses can be very indicative of their trajectory and quality as a company.

Track Record

Ultimately, track record should be one of the most important factors when choosing a courier. Many companies take pride in their on-time delivery percentage and post it online. It makes sense to do a bit of online research for client reviews and ratings.

A courier or transportation company’s digital presence can also go a long way in reinforcing their reputation

Choose with Confidence

Couriers will continue to be key players in the evolving world of logistics and transportation.

The importance of on-demand delivery will continue to influence technological innovation and a growth in importance of last mile delivery. Companies will need to make investments in the transportation and delivery space if they plan on meeting demand and providing great service to their customers.

As such, it’s crucial that they partner with couriers that are able to support their demand, providing quality, efficient service.

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