Business delivery: Courier vs. Post office explained

Your needs are simple. You need to get items from your warehouse to your customers’ doorsteps as quickly and cheaply as possible. And you need to do so while still upholding the high standard of professionalism and customer service that your brand is known for. But with so many different options available, this simple need suddenly becomes very complicated. Do you need to hire a courier? Send items via US mail? Or use a shipping service? Here is the breakdown on the different types of service available to you, so that you can make the best decision for your company.

Business Delivery

What Is a Courier Service?

courier service is generally a privately-owned business which specializes in shipping packages, documents and other important items. A courier company is a good way to transport items when speed is of the essence. Every courier service is different. Some focus on a specific geographic area or region. Others specialize in certain types of items (such as medical supplies or foods/beverages). A few of them have international service, and even offer such special features as same-day or one-day delivery. Many other courier companies specialize in careful handling of fragile items. And they can often safely transport hazardous chemical substances which other services might be unable or unwilling to accommodate. You can even find courier services with the appropriate credentials to transport medical items, such as lab results, blood samples, or test swabs. These services can take special needs into account, avoiding contamination of samples by using refrigerated delivery vehicles and sticking to a tight delivery time frame. There are several different types of courier services you might want to look into, for example: Local Shipping If you live in a large metropolitan area, such as Chicago or Los Angeles, you may want a courier service that specializes in same-day delivery to that area. This can be very beneficial, since you can count on drivers knowing their way around, making delivery more reliable. Time-Sensitive Shipping Some couriers promise to deliver items anywhere in the world within a very specific timeframe. This is ideal if you often need packages or documents delivered to international locations within a 1-3 day window of time. International Shipping These couriers are skilled in handling all the restrictions on international delivery. The cost of duties and taxes is usually included in the price, so you don’t have to worry about it. They know how to get items through customs without a hassle, and they offer tracking on an international level, which is not easy to do.

Business Delivery: Courier Vs. Post Office Explained - Business Delivery -

What Is a Postal Service?

Unlike a courier service, a postal service is usually run by the government. Their job is to deliver letters and packages both domestically and (sometimes) internationally. Each country has its own mail delivery service, run by a federal agency. The United Kingdom uses the Royal Mail service; Canada has Canada Post. In the United States, we rely on the United States Postal Service (USPS). Other well-known postal services include Australia Post, Hong Kong Post and China Post. These postal services exist for the purpose of maintaining connections throughout the country, giving citizens a convenient way to ship letters and items from one place to another. Most post offices are almost as old as the country itself. They were established (in most cases) hundreds of years ago, when citizens first became aware of the need for them. In the US, the postal service was established back in 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was first appointed Postmaster General. Nowadays, postal services like USPS are generally used for communications that are non-urgent and routine. When using a postal service to send a letter, customers pay ahead of time by purchasing a stamp which can be placed on the envelope as they put it in the mail. For packages, customers generally have to go to a post office and pay a clerk in advance to send the item to its destination. Employees at the post office work to sort letters and packages based on destination. When an item is sent, it goes through a machine which cancels out the stamps by creating a postmark in the form of wavy lines across the postage. Once sorted, letters going to the same destination are packaged together, placed in a bundle, and sent to that destination via train, truck or even airplane. Once it arrives in the right country or region, mail carriers then go door to door delivering each letter and package to its final destination.

What's the Business Delivery Difference Between Courier Services and the Post Office?

As you can probably already tell, there are a number of differences between the use of a courier service and the use of the post office for delivering packages and/or documents. One of the biggest differences between these two types of services is price. The postal service is far and away a cheaper option than using a courier service. That’s because when you hire a courier, you’re paying for extra features like enhanced reliability and speedy delivery, as well as more personalized customer service. With the postal service, items take longer to get to their destination. And it offers limited to no ability to track your items along the route. A courier service, on the other hand, charges you extra for the ability to track deliveries. That’s because the technology required to carry out this tracking is expensive, so these costs end up getting passed along to you. You’re also going to pay extra for special features offered by a courier service, such as delivery to remote areas or special handling of fragile items. Another important difference is that most courier services do not impose as many weight or size restrictions on items they deliver. In contrast, the post office has strict limits which may actually prohibit you from sending certain items. A courier service provides more freedom in this way. Additionally, a courier service affords you more potential to scale. If you have a large volume of deliveries to make all at once, a courier service can absorb this demand far more easily than the postal service. And finally, courier services can promise a higher standard of reliability than the postal service, which must manage a much more significant volume of deliveries on a regular basis. While courier service comes with a higher price tag than a postal service, it’s usually well worth it, especially if your business requires timely delivery or special handling.

Business Delivery: Courier Vs. Post Office Explained - Business Delivery -

Quality of Service

As with most things in life, when it comes to delivery service, you get what you pay for. While using the postal service may seem like the more economical option, it can in some cases end up costing you more due to a lower overall quality of service. Longer delivery times, coupled with the inability to track items, could result in damages, losses, and unhappy customers, all of which will cost you money in the long run. To a post office employee, your delivery is just one out of hundreds that they are responsible for in the course of a typical day. They cannot give it the personalized care and attention of a courier, who is much more invested in the safe and timely delivery of your package. A good courier cares about their customers just as much as you do. They will go the extra mile to treat them attentively and kindly. On the other hand, most postal mail carriers are likely to simply toss the item in a mailbox or on the doorstep without even giving it a second thought. It should be noted, as well, that the quality of service you can expect from a postal service varies widely from one country to another. With a courier service, you’ll have to pay extra for the service you receive. They charge extra for delivery to remote areas and for special handling of breakable objects. However, depending on your industry, these extra charges may be well worth it if they add value to the services you can offer your customers. One example of this is the need for rush shipping. If your business depends on packages getting shipped to customers within a 48-hour or even a 24-hour window, your best bet is a courier service. The postal service cannot make any guarantee of making deliveries within this timeframe. If you promise next-day or same-day delivery to your customers, the postal service typically cannot offer this kind of reliability. For this need, you’re better off working with a courier service that’s accustomed to taking rush orders.

International Considerations

If your customer base is worldwide, you’ll need a way to reliably ship items internationally. This introduces all kinds of challenges, most notably the challenge of duties and taxes. Most postal services will require the recipient to pay any duties or taxes owed before final delivery can be made. This can slow down the entire process and leave your customers feeling cheated. Courier services that specialize in international deliveries offer a service called “Delivered Duty Paid,” in which you pay a fee up-front covering any duties or taxes so that the delivery goes more smoothly. That way, your customers are not faced with paying a bill before they can receive their item. That’s because the job of a courier service is to take on all responsibility for the item’s delivery, from start to finish. If you use your local postal service, they can only manage delivery until it arrives in the customs office of the country which you’re trying to mail to. Once it goes through customs, the delivery is then passed along to the postal service of that country (such as the Royal Mail in the UK or Hong Post in Hong Kong, for example.) A major disadvantage to this is that if you run into a problem, you may not have any recourse to resolve it. The quality of various postal services is inconsistent. In some countries, there is little to no tracking of deliveries, and it may be impossible to reach a customer service rep to help. On the other hand, a good courier service will always have someone available to talk to you, who can nail down exactly where your package is and figure out the reasons for any delays. Another great perk of using an international courier service is that they are knowledgeable about restrictions on the delivery of items in certain areas. And they will know how to package items to facilitate safe delivery in the destination country.

What About a Shipping Service?

You may consider working with a shipping service as a middle ground. This is a company which specializes in shipping large amounts of product quickly. Typically, shipping services are more expensive than the postal service, but less expensive than couriers. One advantage of using a shipping service is that, like a courier service, it can guarantee speed and reliability. The disadvantage is that it usually cannot provide personalized customer service to the degree that a courier can. A shipping company is mainly concerned with moving large shipments along quickly. They’re not good with customized solutions or customer support. So if these things are important to you, a shipping company may not be the right choice.

Business Delivery: Courier Vs. Post Office Explained - Business Delivery -

Choosing the Right Service For You

Hopefully, reading this article has given you all the information you need to decide whether a postal, shipping or courier service may be best for your business delivery needs. Before making a decision, we recommend prioritizing the goals you have for deliveries. Is speed the most important factor? Or is saving money more important? Or maybe your main concern is ensuring that you and your customers receive top-notch customer service. All of these are important considerations which should guide you in your choice. If service and speed matter to you, you should look for a courier service that offers real-time tracking and route optimization software. In today’s world, these tools are essential to ensure fast, quality delivery. The best services make it easy for you to find late or missing drivers or packages. By making this choice wisely, you will be well on your way to making your business the very best it can ever be.

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