Online businesses may be consigning shopping malls increasingly to the shade, but retail companies must continue to deal with the physical world. Products bought online still need to get from the warehouse to the customer, and unless you have the resources to dabble in drone technology, this means using a courier service.
However, you can't just choose any company to provide this vital task.
If the delivery goes wrong, it does little good to blame the courier. Your business will be the one taking the flack.
So how can you choose the right courier for your company? There's more involved than you might think.
Ease of Service
- Will the courier regularly collect from your dispatch center, or will pick-ups be more limited and so impact delivery times?
- Even worse, will you need to take your consignments to their depot?
- Will the same company be able to handle local, national, and even international shipments?
- Are they competitively priced for each option?
- How straightforward are their prices for different weights, sizes, and delivery locations?
- How much overhead will this add to your processes?
- Is their charging structure simple enough so you can offer a free shipping option, or does complexity and cost rule this out?
- What guarantees does the courier company offer that your shipments will reach the customer on time?
- What, if any, compensation will you receive if this doesn't happen?
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- And if a shipment goes missing, will you be adequately compensated?
- Who will you need to deal with in these situations, and how easy is the procedure?
- Does the courier offer insurance?
- Do they offer full customer-facing order tracking, and how easy is it to integrate your systems with theirs?
That is an essential function to get right if you want to keep customers informed and reduce the load on your customer services department.
Proof of Delivery
- How will the courier prove they've successfully delivered the package?
It's an unfortunate fact that some customers will try and falsely claim non-delivery, and so there need to be bullet-proof measures in place to prevent this.
- What's their policy on dropping off goods if the addressee isn't available to take delivery?
- Will they leave the parcel somewhere secure, collect a signature from a neighbor, or return the package to the depot?
Special Needs and Requirements
- How flexible is their service?
- Will they be able to deal with perishable goods, for example, or will they have options for helping unload bulky or heavy items?
You may not have any of these particular requirements, but it reflects well on a company if they're prepared to offer them.
Integrations with Your Technology
If you are running an online store, you'll want your shipper to integrate with your system, whether that is Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or something else; having plugins and extensions that are maintained and kept up-to-date working with your system is vital to avoiding unnecessary manual data input.
- What technology does your courier integrate with?
- Is there support to get the plugins/extensions working properly with your store?
Image and Professionalism
Lastly, the professionalism of the service will directly influence a customer's perception of your own company.
A courier is often the only physical point of contact when conducting business online.
- Does the courier use modern, clean vehicles and smart uniforms?
- Do they take customer service seriously and present an image of reputability?
- Do they deliver directly themselves or are they using other vendors like DHL and UPS?
Offering the best products and service in your industry counts for little if the final step of your operation isn't up to scratch, and the customer isn't happy with delivery.
Luckily, although you may need to outsource this function, its effectiveness isn't entirely out of your hands.
Asking these questions before hiring a courier will ensure that both you and your customers are happy with the service they provide.
After the Checkout: Make Shipping Easy on Yourself with the Help of Fulfillment Bridge
Once you have your site optimized, from guests checkout options and pricing to images and user generated content, your sales will start to climb. Prepare to keep your customers happy and yourself sane by taking advantage of the full suite of Fulfillment Bridge Ecommerce solutions.