Online shopping has changed the way many UK businesses operate; manufacturers and retailers have been ditching stores to just selling goods online for a number of years, with many of their customers located world-wide.
UK businesses are also importing more products and merchandise than ever from international locations such as India and China to sell in the UK.
Additionally, customers demand for express delivery has increased, this adds extra pressure on businesses ability to meet their needs.
Importing and exporting goods as well as sending parcels worldwide can sometimes seem like a challenging and expensive process for a business to source.
Traditionally freight forwarders were the middle men acting as account managers between businesses and courier providers.
Now businesses are cutting out the middle man and either going to courier companies direct or using multiple courier websites to send their business parcels worldwide.
Meeting the needs of customers demand forces companies to look for faster, competitively priced, easy to use online systems to book and send their business parcels world-wide.
What’s more popular than ever is having a choice of courier suppliers in one online software, similar to a comparison website this kind of online shipping software gives businesses the ability to compare multiple courier brands and prices in one place and book courier shipments instantly.
The parcel is then collected by the chosen courier and delivered to its destination.
In the UK there are a number of online suppliers such as World Options, providing this service.
The question is with so much choice, how does a business choose what online courier provider to use?
First Up – Assess Your Business Courier Needs
It’s important to know what your business needs and processes are, before contacting a courier supplier.
In order to be ready and prepared, here’s a list of handy questions to get you started.
Take some time to answer these questions about your business:
1. What are your business courier needs?
Most businesses want a low cost, fast and convenient courier providers for booking shipments online and door to door deliveries. Have a checklist of what matters to you.
2. How much are you currently spending on courier services?
Check your courier invoices and have them ready to compare with new suppliers.
Are you logging into multiple courier websites to look for the best courier rates, if so this is a waste of valuable business time. There are easier online solutions.
3. How much real physical time does it take to process courier or shipping bookings for your business?
Figure out how much time it takes to arrange one courier shipment and times that by how many shipments you place in a month.
Consider how much time you spend corresponding with multiple courier companies and handling shipping queries. If it’s more than you should be spending, then maybe a new supplier might reduce this time, freeing this up to help you focus on running your business.
4. What are you shipping?
Is it documents, parcels, boxes, pallets, freight and what volume are you shipping? One or two a week or hundreds a month?
5. Where is it going and how fast?
Is it going to or coming from an international location abroad or the UK? How quickly does it need to get there? Express delivery, next day, economy express etc.
6. Hazardous, Prohibited & Restricted Items – What can you send using a courier?
Understanding what you can send using a courier will save you time, money and will help avoid your goods being held up at customs. Consider the contents of your shipment, certain couriers and countries have a substantial list of items which might seem harmless but are actually classified as hazardous, prohibited and restricted.
Dangerous and Hazardous Goods
Items that are listed as “dangerous and hazardous” will not be shipped by most couriers. Businesses would require sourcing a specialist courier and logistics provider.
Dangerous and hazardous goods include:
Adhesives, aerosols, airbags for cars, Christmas crackers, cleaners, fireworks, nail varnish, batteries, perfumes and aftershaves, flammable liquids among other items.
Most couriers will not ship prohibited items. Goods deemed prohibited including, tobacco, money, personal data, animals, and many other items.
The following items may have restrictions on them – these can be shipped depending on the courier or country: alcohol & champagne, credit or debit cards, jewellery & watches, mobile phones and devices, passports.
What To Do Next
Often businesses don’t realise that making small tweaks to how they ship parcels, packages and pallets, the speed of transit, or size of packaging can make a huge difference to the total amount spent in a year. These small tweaks often lead to saving hundreds or even thousands as well as saving valuable business time.
Now you have accessed your business shipping needs, it’s time to contact courier suppliers to see what they can offer you.
Questions you should ask your courier supplier:
- Do they provide a choice of world leading couriers through one online system to compare courier costs and book shipments instantly?
- How easy is their online booking system to use, do they provide a demonstration on how to book shipments?
- Once a shipment is booked, how quickly can they pick up goods for delivery?
- How much paperwork is involved, do they provide online invoicing?
- Can they handle the volume of goods you need to ship?
- Will there be someone you can call if there is an issue with my shipments?
- Are there any additional costs or contract to use the online booking tool?
When you have all the answers to the above questions, it’s time to explore and do a test shipment with your chosen supplier, good luck and happy shipping!