As we write this blog, thousands of courier service vehicles are criss-crossing the country, carrying parcels of all sizes and shapes to various destinations. Today, courier services are indispensable for businesses to ship their goods from one place to another.
This article takes an in-depth look into the world of courier services and every little aspect you need to know. So, let's go.
The Working of a Courier Service
We are happy when we receive our designated parcels safely or when goods reach the recipient on time. However, before your parcel reaches its destination, it is handled by many people down the line. Although the prime objective is to deliver the goods to the designated person at the designated place and time, courier services have their own way of working.
The functioning of a courier service company depends on:
- Type of service
- Sensitivity of the package
Couriers pick up packages directly from the business or sellers and then deliver them to customers. Depending on the distribution and transportation costs, some companies may use multiple modes to fulfil orders.
Most courier companies use larger vehicles to transport goods from one place to another but rely on smaller vehicles like bikes and minivans to distribute the goods within the local area. Companies have now upgraded their services with GPS tracking systems.
That said, courier services have a few restrictions, especially regarding the types of goods that can be shipped. While most goods are allowed, a list of items is banned and restricted. You cannot ship the following items via courier services:
- Liquids and semi-liquids.
- Firearms and ammunition
- Precious and semi-precious items
- Radioactive materials
- Phliately items
- Perishable foods
- Blank stocks
- Cheques (blank/cancelled)
- Gambling device
- Dangerous goods and hazardous items
- Pornographic material in the form of DVDs, CDs, books, videos, films, or magazines.
How Are Couriers Tracked?
Apart from these items, courier services ship pretty much everything else under the sun. Today, every package is assigned a unique tracking id or number, enabling the sender and the receiver to track the transit of their goods. Further, most courier companies keep the sender/receiver well-informed, by proactively intimating them on the status of the goods via Email, WhatsApp or SMS.
Although tracking is a tedious process, your courier partner can go the extra mile to provide customers with the information regarding:
- Route of the parcel
- Delivery status
- Estimated time and date of delivery.
Every parcel that's collected at the courier office undergoes a multi-step process to enable tracking.
The barcode is an efficient way of tracking the parcel status and the most reliable solution to ensure that parcels do not get misplaced or lost in transit.
Barcode generation gives each parcel a unique number ID with all the required details. This is scanned four times: First before being loaded into the vehicle for transit, second upon reaching the destination (it stores additionally, the time of receipt), third when it is taken out for delivery, and finally when it is delivered. Post-delivery, the tracking system is updated with details like delivery time and recipient’s name, and the status is changed to ‘delivered’.
Courier services provide multiple shipping and delivery options, which sets them apart from the traditional postal system. This service started in the early 20th century with just a handful of companies delivering parcels, letters, packages, etc. Today, it has evolved tremendously to provide various services based on the customer's requirements.
Also Read: Mailroom Management: What is it all About?
The 7 Different Types of Courier Services
The courier service sector delivers various types of services which are as follows:
1. Standard Service
This courier service is the most used and cost-effective service to send parcels to any destination. It is common for delivery services to prioritise a package's weight over its size. Unlike expedited delivery services, these companies ensure that your packages arrive within two to three days from processing, making them more cost-effective than faster delivery services.
2. Express Service
As its name implies, the express delivery service is exclusively known for collecting and delivering parcels to destinations within a stipulated area on the same day. Their reliable delivery speed makes them ideal for organisations relying on private and confidential communications.
3. Overnight Services
Overnight services operate beyond the usual courier service time, making them a godsend for businesses that need to send parcels in an emergency.
4. On-demand Services
This is a great service for medical emergencies and other cannot-miss types of urgencies. On-demand or rush deliveries indicate that the client's parcel is delivered to the recipient in minimal duration.
Freight services offer two types of deliveries:
- Full Truck Load (FTL)
- Less Than Load (LTL)
Businesses may also send their goods in a van if they do not prefer the above options. Freight services are ideal for business models that need to transport goods in bulk or if they deal with hazardous material.
6. Parcel Services
Parcel services are highly popular for three reasons:
- They deliver within local areas, so the delivery happens on the same day.
- Most deliveries take place during the day.
- They deliver small and big items, although there is an exception on certain items.
7. Same-day Services
As the name implies, these services specialise in delivering parcels on the same day, making them popular amongst clients with emergency requirements.
Courier services have evolved to a point where they now serve as the only point of human interaction for many businesses. Besides businesses, courier services are proving to be highly beneficial for their customers who rely on them to move their parcels to various destinations. Let's now unpack the benefits of courier services.
4 Major Advantages of Courier Services
1. Speed of delivery
The prime objective of courier services is to deliver their clients' parcels and goods on time. Efficient fleet management, well-trained staff, collection and delivery strategies, and route planning ensure that parcels reach their designated places without delay.
2. Affordability of cost
Most courier providers operate at reasonable rates, making this service one of the most cost-effective choices to get parcels moving across the country.
3. Reliability of service
People today rely on couriers to ship anything from simple letters to valuable documents, electronic devices, and other expensive items. Customers also have the option of tracking their parcels and knowing if they have been delivered or not.
4. Safety of service
Secure delivery of goods is perhaps the biggest assurance that courier services give their clients. Relying on these services to deliver your parcels reduces not only the risk of loss but also the risk of damage to the parcels. Once your parcel has been collected, you can rest assured it will safely reach the recipient.
Despite the popularity of courier services, people still debate if they are similar to postal services. The answer is NO. Couriers are an all-inclusive, premium service that collects and delivers shipments of all kinds. Postal services specialise in delivering parcels and letters of communication, which may take a stipulated time to be delivered.
There are a few more aspects that demarcate both services. Let's take a look.
Couriers Vs. Postal Service: 5 Aspects That Differentiate Them
Postal services have been around for longer, and even though they operate at a slower pace than couriers, people still trust them for local deliveries. However, in terms of speed, couriers are highly reliable for domestic and international deliveries.
Courier services have fewer restrictions regarding parcel size and weight, which is why many people prefer them.
3. Tracking features
Real-time tracking is one of the most unique features that sets apart couriers from postal services, which still lack this facility.
Postal services are unavailable on weekends and government holidays. Courier companies have no such restrictions. Some providers even offer round-the-clock services.
As mentioned earlier, courier services are indispensable for most businesses. Hence the demand for these companies is on the rise. With hundreds of courier service providers available today, choosing the right one is quite a humongous task. Here's a quick guide to help you prioritise the factors for picking your courier service partner.
5 Criteria to Help You Choose the Best Courier Service
1. Availability of service
Ensure that your service provider can cater to your business in terms of the number of parcels you may want to deliver monthly or weekly. Also, check if their timings align with your operating duration.
2. Cost of service
A good courier service should offer a reasonable explanation about its pricing structure to ensure that it remains in tandem with your budget. To determine if your provider is charging reasonable prices for their services, you must take into account the following criteria:
- The actual and volumetric weight of the parcels, because larger and lighter parcels may cost less than smaller, heavier ones.
- Applicable fees like fuel costs, toll booth costs, and congestion fees.
- Delivery option- whether by land, sea, or air.
- Types of goods you want to send. ( Fragile and valuable items may come with extra handling charges.)
- Individual company tariffs.
3. Delivery methods
Most couriers have their own fleet of vehicles to have their goods delivered. Ensure that your service provider has diverse solutions to get your parcels to their domestic or international destinations.
4. Technical support
To thrive, survive, and adapt to the current times, courier companies should use effective tracking technology to track your goods. Relying on redundant, manual processes in this time and age will only slow down your business workflow.
The most important aspect is whether your courier partner is trustworthy enough to transport your goods safely without any complaints. Read online reviews and gather plenty of word-of-mouth referrals to ensure you sign the deal with the most trustworthy partner.
Partnering with a reliable and experienced courier service provider can be a huge asset for any business. It is a bond built of trust that can last for years. A good courier service with state-of-the-art shipping and delivery solutions can help uphold your popularity in the business world.
Avon Logistics & Solutions Pvt Ltd. is one of Chennai's most reputed courier service providers. Do call us today to know more about our services.