How to choose a courier for an online store?

E-commerce has been multiplying its turnover for many years. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted not only in an increase in turnover, but also in new groups of customers who either didn’t use to shop online or did it sporadically. The range of products purchased in e-stores has also become wider – apart from electronics and textiles, customers are now buying basic food products. So, in these times when e-shopping is so common and popular, courier services are becoming more and more important. What to consider when choosing a courier for e-commerce?

Customers buy a lot online, often in different shops. And they can compare the quality of courier delivery that different stores offer. Of course, they are aware of the fact that the seller does not always have an influence on the quality of deliveries. However, in the end, it is the seller, not the courier, who has to deal with customer’s being happy or angry about a delivery. You may loose customers with poor delivery, while good delivery may often make happy customers stay loyal to the store. That is why it is worth choosing a courier company carefully.

Is price a good criterion for choosing a courier?

The first question is always about the price. Don’t fool yourself that price doesn’t matter. Because it does, significantly. However, the cheapest service is not always the best. In the case of courier deliveries, lower price is often associated with longer delivery time.

If you sell low-cost retail products and offer free shipment, the customer is usually willing to wait a day or two longer. If delivery is to be paid for by the customer, you need to calculate the price correctly: if it is a significant part of the total cost of the order, it may result in more shopping carts being abandoned.

The situation is completely different when your store offers so-called premium goods. In such circumstances, the customer expects premium courier services. Everyone knows what this means in practice: the shipment is to be delivered quickly (preferably on the same or next day) and at a time convenient for the customer. Of course, it should be free of charge. However, in the case of expensive orders, customers are much more likely to pay extra for their prompt and timely delivery. Goods such as expensive electronics, tableware or household appliances should be transported safely. Securing the parcel is also crucial. Even if the customers do not cover the costs related to transport damage, they will still be dissatisfied that they have to wait longer for the damaged goods to be replaced.

Everything about the price of courier services may be summed up in this way – the quality of delivery should always reflect the quality of the goods. Especially, when it comes to higher-value orders. However, this does not mean that you have to overpay.

Negotiate terms or use a broker

Using the services of only one courier company is a good solution for large sellers. If you can meet the high limits for the monthly number of shipments, you have a good basis for negotiating the terms. You should never give up trying to negotiate. You may not always get what you want, but at least you will be sure that you have done your best to make savings.

For smaller traders, it will be much more advantageous to use the services of shipping brokers. Thanks to their services, you will gain access not only to more favourable price offers, but also you will enable your clients to choose a supplier.

Test different solutions and give a choice

No seller has perfect knowledge about their customers. For sure, they are not such a homogeneous group for whom it is possible to create one perfectly matched delivery model. You will never be 100% sure whether your customers prefer door-to-door delivery or personal collection at a parcel locker or point. You will not know in advance which form of payment they prefer. And you will definitely not guess which courier company they prefer and those they may wish to deliberately avoid. Therefore, it is crucial to test different solutions and give customers a choice.

Take care of packaging quality

Packaging quality also has a direct impact on the quality and costs of delivery. If you use a packaging that optimises the use of space, you will be appreciated by customers. It is annoying to receive large parcels with goods moving around inside or stuffed mostly with fillers. A pallet with parcels arranged in higgledy-piggledy way is also not impressive. Or package in which goods are squashed. If your packers are not always able to create optimal sets, you should use a packing algorithm that plans the optimal use of packages or containers you have. The quality of packaging translates into safe delivery and, consequently, greater customer satisfaction.

Monitor deliveries

Check how your shipments are actually handled. The easiest way is to place an order … in your own store. In this way, you can also find out how the purchasing process works (or doesn’t work). You will learn what cooperation with the courier looks like and how suppliers relate to customers. Of course, you should also use surveys and ask customers to rate your service.

The feedback information can be used to assess which courier services are necessary, which are useless, and which should be added. While you are not able to change much in deliveries, returns are an area with great optimisation potential. It is very easy to win customer loyalty if you simplify the return procedure as much as possible. It is best when done by the customer at home online with all the necessary formalities on the store’s website or using the documents attached to the shipment. Staying at home is especially important in times of epidemic. You can never be sure whether customers ordering in your store can leave the house or have just been put under compulsory quarantine. Or, they simply do not want to go outside and risk infection. By respecting this, you can count on gaining a loyal customer.