How to set up a delivery service

If you make deliveries, you must offer a reliable and secure service to customers. Your delivery service can also differentiate you from competitors. What do you need to think about when setting it up?

  1. Match your courier to your business needs. Delivery companies range from large operators to local firms and may offer different services. Think about whether you will need extras such as 24-hour delivery, designated delivery time slots or international carriage.
  2. Differentiate yourself from competitors. Do your rivals offer evening delivery or free delivery for second items? Think about what you can do to stand out and make your service more attractive.
  3. Offer a range of convenient options. Your customers might expect to be able to choose how, where and when to receive their goods. Higher value products will probably require a signature, for example, and customers may expect heavy goods to be put in situ by the courier.
  4. Consider your charging policy. It is an area where you can clearly differentiate your firm. You could offer free delivery as standard with a charge for a premium service, or a flat rate regardless of the number of items — a policy that is likely to encourage more sales.
  5. Allow customers to track orders in progress, particularly if you are sending urgent or expensive items. The customer feels more in control of their purchase and any problems with deliveries are likely to be picked up quickly.
  6. Pick a courier with a satisfactory doorstep policy. What does your courier do if they are unable to deliver?  Do they try once, then leave the package at a warehouse for collection? Are they happy to deliver to an alternative address? Communicate this doorstep policy to customers.
  7. Set up a clear, customer-friendly returns procedure. While some businesses do charge fees for returning items, offering a free return service will inspire confidence and perhaps even boost your sales.
  8. Advertise your delivery service prominently on sales brochures and on your website. Being clear about pricing and returns will also help to avoid post-transaction misunderstandings.
  9. Think about packaging. It is important to protect goods during transit and ensure they arrive in good condition. Don’t overwrap though – your customer must be able to get at the goods without damaging them by struggling with packaging.
  10. Consider introducing a green element to your packing policy. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental effects of using unnecessary or bulky packaging. Aim to use recyclable packaging and reduce waste — and therefore your costs, too — as much as possible.

Cardinal Rules

Do:

  • think about your business needs before selecting a courier
  • offer customers a range of delivery options
  • negotiate bulk discounts

 Don’t:

  • have a one-size-fits-all approach to delivery
  • leave items on the doorstep if customers are not in
  • pass all your delivery costs on to your customer