Courier services solve the delivery needs of people who need a shipment moved locally from point A to point B, usually in an expedited time frame. Customers can place their orders online or over the phone. Courier then arrives at the pickup location and collects the shipment. Courier then delivers the shipment by the deadline.
Does the courier go directly to the delivery location? No, not necessarily. Usually there are services agreed upon. Say a standard 4-hour service. What this means is that the package will be ready, say, by 11 AM. The package will be delivered by 3 PM, within the 4-hour window. It may be picked up at 11 am sharp, or 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, etc. The courier service uses the flexibility of the 4-hour window to maximize the productivity of the couriers.
Businesses and consumers interact differently with couriers.
Whether consumers order items from their favorite retailer for home delivery or want to send an item from point A to point B, the criteria for good service tends to be pretty similar across the board:
- Will this item get to my desired location on time?
- Can I track it?
- Will it get there in good condition?
While these are important factors on the business side as well, they are limited.
Many companies rely on courier services to keep their business going and their customers satisfied.
In this post, we’re going to explore the functions of a courier, and all of the criteria a business should consider when choosing a courier to rely on for their transportation and delivery operations.
What Are Couriers And What Do They Do?
Put simply, a courier service is a company that delivers goods.
This delivery can occur within businesses, between businesses and consumers or vice versa. While many businesses engage a particular courier service for all or most of their deliveries, consumers can also hire some couriers for one-off deliveries.
While the word “courier” tends to be interpreted as synonymous with a fast, short-range delivery, parcel delivery by courier doesn’t have to be just across town—it can also mean delivery across the world.
In fact, couriers can take many forms. In some cities, in addition to trucks and vans, they may operate on bicycles or motorcycles. For longer distance deliveries, they can avail themselves of long-haul trucks, railways and aircraft.
The Items Couriers Deliver
The products a courier service delivers can vary significantly.
The average consumer’s typical experience with couriers consists of receiving the items they ordered off of Amazon with FedEx or UPS.
The reality of what courier services can deliver is much more complex.
From refrigerated courier services—delivering temperature controlled items such as seafood, biological and pharmaceutical products—to courier companies that deliver secure, sensitive documents, there is quite a bit of specialization in the industry.
The key for consumers and businesses alike is finding a courier company that will do the best job with the items they send and receive.
Couriers vs. Standard Mail
Doesn’t a standard mail service deliver just about anything as well? What’s the difference?
The main difference between courier services and standard mail services lies in the fact that couriers are a premium service.
Couriers provide benefits across the board that cannot be met by standard mail services:
1. Faster delivery times
Through higher efficiency and specialization, couriers are able to deliver products more quickly than a standard mail service, often guaranteeing a specific date and even time block.
2. Order and delivery tracking
Often, the post office can provide you with a date range of when they believe a package or letter will be delivered. With a courier, online order tracking is much more robust and shippers and recipients know exactly when a package will be delivered on a specific day.
3. Higher security
Courier services often require signatures on items they deliver, upping the element of security.
Couriers can set themselves apart considerably from standard mail services through specialization. Courier companies that can safely transport sensitive documents or temperature controlled substances can simply not be matched by a standard mail service.
5. Higher level of convenience
Couriers typically pick up from the homes of consumers or from a company’s warehouse, eliminating the hassle of taking extra steps throughout the process such as going to the post office.
How the Delivery Landscape is Changing
Courier services are the established method of transportation and delivery for most shippers, but recent trends and projected growth statistics show that use of couriers is only going to increase in the coming years.
Here’s a great graph from Statista depicting 2015 vs. projected 2019 market size for the courier services industry:
Here’s another graph showing projected courier revenue growth (in billions) across the globe:
Clearly, the courier market is growing.
What’s Behind This Trend?
Couriers are the most prominent players in last mile delivery, parcel delivery from a warehouse directly to its ultimate destination.
And the standards that businesses and consumers have attached to last mile delivery are continually increasing due to improvements in logistics and delivery technology, fueling our on-demand economy.
As standards and demand for on-demand delivery and transportation increase, so will the role of couriers as a premium service in the delivery of products.
How To Choose The Right Courier
So we know what a courier does, the benefits of using a courier and why demand for couriers is increasing—but with all of this growing demand, how can businesses be confident choosing one courier service over another?
There are many criteria for choosing the right courier.
Let’s explore some of the most important ones so that you can make this decision with confidence!
It sounds so simple, but with today’s high demand, couriers are serving multiple companies with complex needs. Make sure that the courier you choose is aware of the average amount they will be needed on a monthly basis and when these engagements will typically take place.
Insurance And Security
What happens if your goods don’t arrive to the desired location or if they arrive damaged? It’s essential to protect your company from liability and hire a courier that gives you peace of mind in this regard. Make sure you research your courier’s insurance coverage and make an informed decision.
While couriers offer a premium service compared to mail, that doesn’t alway mean they are expensive. Be sure to stay informed on the costs of doing business with a particular courier service, but also realize that cost is not always correlated to level of service.
Local Vs. National Or Global
If the range within which you need to transport your goods is small, consider going with a local company. Local couriers tend to be more efficient and flexible than larger companies working on a local scale.
Make sure the courier you are considering is equipped with the ability to efficiently and successfully transport and delivery the goods you need to move. For example, if you manufacture goods that require temperature-controlled transportation, it makes sense to work with a company that specializes in refrigerated transportation.
It’s also important to be informed on the type of delivery and tracking technology that your courier uses. Bad or outdated technology can lead to a lower delivery success rate and lower customer satisfaction.
In a delivery and logistics field teeming with innovative technology, the technology a courier uses can be very indicative of their trajectory and quality as a company.
Ultimately, track record should be one of the most important factors when choosing a courier. Many companies take pride in their on-time delivery percentage and post it online. It makes sense to do a bit of online research for client reviews and ratings.
A courier or transportation company’s digital presence can also go a long way in reinforcing their reputation
Couriers Are Here To Stay
Couriers will continue to be key players in the evolving world of logistics and transportation.
The importance of on-demand delivery will continue to influence technological innovation and a growth in importance of last mile delivery. Companies will need to make investments in the transportation and delivery space if they plan on meeting demand and providing great service to their customers.
Your Ideal Partner
It’s crucial that businesses partner with couriers that are able to support their demand, providing quality, efficient service.
At Winnesota, we provided standard and refrigerated transportation services across the Midwest, along with warehousing in our Twin Cities and Milwaukee markets.
However, are roots are as a courier company that has operated in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro for decades.
While we’ve expanded our capacity and our number of services, we pride ourselves on still offering exceptional local courier delivery service for the Twin Cities and Milwaukee metro areas.
Let us be your ideal partner!