What are your options for product delivery?
You will learn
- About shipping products yourself
- Tips for using couriers
- How to go international with your products
Can you ship products yourself?
Do you have the ability to send off your products yourself? Take some time to consider whether or not you have the time to package and ship each product yourself to the professional standard that your customers will expect from your business.
Will you hand write out the addresses for that more personal touch, or will you invest in a label maker so you can print the information and appear like a larger business? Don’t forget about the brand image you’re developing for your business; your packaging needs to reflect the image you want your customers to associate with you. Will you want your packaging to display your logo, or will you put a little branded touch on the inside the package?
You’ll also need to think about how much it will cost to ship. Royal Mail have a helpful price finder that will let you know the prices per weight of each package. You can use this tool to get an idea of how much postage and package you’ll need to charge your customers. Of course, customers are happier when they don’t have to pay for shipping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cover the costs yourself. You could include an average shipping fee in the price of your products – people won’t mind paying a little more if they think they’re getting the shipping for free.
Make sure the material you’re using to package your product is right too. You wouldn’t want to ship a breakable item without padding it with bubble wrap, otherwise it will probably be damaged once it reaches your customer. You’ll also need to work out how many of your products will comfortably fit into one box without being too tightly packed or sliding around.
Take some time to familiarise yourself with shipping times too, as that will have an impact on how much you’ll charge for postage. Typically, the faster the product gets to your customer, the more they’ll have to pay. It’ll also depend on where your customers live relative to your business. Are you just targeting UK buyers, or are you reaching out to a European or even global market? If you’re interested in exporting your product abroad, check out our free export guide to help you get started.
Using a courier service for UK product delivery
If you don’t want the hassle of product delivery to rest on your shoulders, you can hire a courier company to do it for you. You’ll still need to package the product yourself, but you won’t need to worry about getting it from A to B, that’ll be your courier’s job.
There are lots of independent couriers that you can employ, and it’s important that you thoroughly research different companies before deciding on who you want to work with. There are courier comparison sites like Shiply that can help point you towards different services or you can browse the internet or the yellow pages yourself to check out your options.
If your business is online-only, your courier will likely be the only physical interaction your customers have with your business. You’ll need a high level of trust in whichever business you choose to represent you, so make sure you check out other user reviews to see what their experiences were with that company. Are the couriers prompt and professional, in uniform and friendly?
When looking for your courier, you’ll need to weigh up the speed of their delivery against their prices. How quickly do your customers need to receive their product? If it’s a perishable item or if you offer different delivery speeds on your website, will your courier be able to deliver on your promise to your customer?
Pricing is always going to be an influencing factor when you’re choosing a courier. Discuss all their pricing options and make sure there are no hidden costs before you agree on a contract. You’ll also need to ask about their invoice procedure and find out when and how you’ll be expected to pay for their service.
Some courier services offer a tracking option so you can be confident that your product has arrived with your customer. However, tracking every product you send will be a big drain on your time. It might be more worthwhile for your courier service to take a signature from your customers as proof of delivery. That way, you’ll be able to gather proof of each delivery and ensure it matches your orders each month.
When talking with potential couriers for your product delivery, you might want to ask things like:
- What’s their customer service policy?
- Do their couriers wear a uniform?
- Have they got options for express delivery?
- Are they able to transport fragile or specialist materials? This will depend on what your product is.
- Do they offer proof of delivery? This is often more effective than tracking.
- What’s their invoicing procedure?
- What’s the final price you’ll be expected to pay?
- What are their opening hours? Not all customers will be able to take their product between 9am and 5pm.
- Do they have insurance? Get details of their insurance to make sure it covers loss or damage to your products.
If you’re sending your product further afield, you’ll need to think bigger than local couriers. You might want to look into international couriers as well as local ones, which could be your best option for getting your product to customers from around the world. The same tips apply here as they did for your local courier; you’ll need to confirm your price and payments and what’s included in the service.
If you’re sending lots overseas and you’re becoming more of an export business, you might want to look into other, larger scale transportation like freight forwarders, sea, rail or air shipping. You can find out more about these shipping options, and many more useful exporting tips, in our free export eBook.
Product delivery can be a headache, but this article talks you through some of the key considerations you need to be aware of when shipping your product, such as packaging, brand identity, couriers, and pricing.