Small business wondering if there is more to life than queuing at the Post Office counter?
Wondering which courier to use?
Been there – done that. Here are some pointers.
The post office or couriers are the two options.
Remember: For Highlands and UK islands always use the Post Office, they will always be cheaper. You’ll find the postcodes couriers surcharge online, IM, PO33, BT and some K Scottish ones. Couriers don’t want to go there so they charge more. PO is always cheaper on small boxes.
We used to use parcel2go.com a lot and simply use whoever was cheapest courier from that platform. They have tools so you can bulk upload from Amazon/eBay/most shopping cart software so you are not booking one by one. If you open an account and top up £100 at a time with a debit card you get another 5% off. Cheaper than the Post Office and they collect.
- With parcel2go (or parcelmonkey or any of the aggregators) there is almost zero customer support when a wheel falls off. You get what you pay for. You are consigned to days of delay and repeated contact via “live chat” – which is usually anything but “live” and seldom English.
- Usually Hermes are the cheapest on there and they can be pretty dire. See below.
- If they damage or lose something you will have to jump through so many hoops to get any compensation it simply isn’t worth the time. You’ll write it off.
Eventually we started using Hermes directly. Same bulk upload tools as P2G but a few pence cheaper.
- Hermes are great for low value items you can afford to give some away of – because you will be doing.
- The drivers routinely lose/steal stuff or deliver it to random neighbours, sometimes other addresses entirely, leave it in their car for a week if they have flu, drop it in puddles or simply toss stuff over walls in the rain.
- Because of the above, tracking will sometimes say delivered but customer says it isn’t.
- We found Hermes to be more trouble than they were worth eventually and preferred to pay more to get a better service.
- Put Collect+ and Yodel into the same category.
My preferred options:
We use a mix of Post Office PPI and DPD courier.
Royal Mail Business.
You get in touch with Royal Mail business section and tell them you want an OBA (online business account) and want to use PPI.
This allows you to book your own boxes online, select Recorded etc, and drop them off at the post office in bulk done already and walk out. You pay every month by DD. You are sat at home with a glass of wine rather than standing in the PO.
Now they will make you buy a £250 printer to do this now (we use the old label system still) and the software is a bit of a learning curve, but once you are doing it, it is easy peasy and a bit cheaper than the PO counter.
Your local post office might sulk at taking them in pre-paid this way – ask them. They are contractually obliged to take them but many still refuse citing lack of space. You may need to remind them they still get paid if they scan recorded mail (which they do from your book 10 at a time using the bulkscan tool on their screen).
RM will collect from you but you need to be projected to spend £15k+ a year before they will.
If you have ever had a DPD delivery, you will know it is world class. SMS alerts, reschedule option emails, knowing the time of delivery within an hour, etc. Customers LOVE it.
Get hold of DPD, have the rep call down to see you. Show him the size and weight of the boxes you do and they will cut you a deal. We pay I think £4.99 + VAT but that is up to 20kg and 1m long. Yours are smaller and lighter so they will do a better deal for you maybe depending on volume. The minimum to have an account with them is I think 50 parcels a week.
- They are useless outside of the EU (inside EU is great), forget them for that.
- Expensive for Highlands and islands – Use the PO.
- If you have no parcels on a day, they charge you for a failed collection @ £14.50 so always have at least one.
- Awesome tracking – I mean awesome!
- Proper customer service. Pick up a phone and someone answers it.
- Everything arrives, almost no damages or headaches.
I will add I am not on commission from DPD, just having tried everything else, if you can afford to use them you will be sorry you didn’t earlier when you finally land at their door in 5 years. That’s what happened to me.
But standing at the Post Office every day with 40 boxes sucks. It won’t be doable when there are 100 boxes so better do it while you can than flap later without a plan as you grow.
UPS are OK too, but not as good as DPD. But they will come and make you an offer too if you ask them, but they don’t rush arranging that.
In short: Royal Mail PPI or courier. From courier, try parcel2go or similar if not so big (watch for the “overweight scam”), if you can do 50 a week talk to UPS or DPD direct.
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