Courier Service vs Post Office: Which Should You Choose?
If your company has packages that need to be delivered, chances are you’re looking for the most reliable and cost-effective way to ship them. Your first thought may be to use the Post Office, but another option you should consider is a courier service. Before deciding the best way to utilize these services, you want to understand the differences between them.
The Post Office Option (USPS)
The USPS will deliver to just about anywhere in the United States. According to Sandy Paonessa, Retired USPS, they do not deliver to every address, but they do provide a way to receive mail for every address. Places where USPS does not deliver include those next door to a post office who receive their mail at the post office, addresses with no mail receptacles, addresses for which delivery was never requested, remote addresses miles from established routes, abandoned addresses and non-occupied dwellings.
The variables for shipping with USPS can be vast, depending on the size, shape, weight and destination of your shipments. The process can get a little complicated unless the product you are shipping is light-weight and will fit in a small box. When shipping anything other than a small item, costs with USPS can add up. USPS pricing rises when your shipments go over two pounds and can get expensive for heavy or bulky items, or if you want your shipment delivered within a few days. Standard mail has a reputation for being hit or miss when it comes to speed and reliability. On the other hand, you can save money if your customers can wait a week to get your products. That’s why many businesses prefer to use them to send non-urgent, routine shipments to business partners and customers.
The Courier Service Option
With courier services, it is important to note that this classification includes large companies like UPS and FedEx and smaller private companies as well. There are private courier companies that have hundreds of drivers with multiple locations and there are local and regional courier companies. All of them play an important role in product distribution, and depending on your requirements, you may want to use a combination of these companies.
When they can meet your needs, the smaller courier companies can provide better customer service and be less expensive than the larger companies. That is because the owners are more actively involved in the day-to-day operations and customer service is pinnacle for a small business. It is easier to maintain a high level of service when you are smaller and not serving as many customers over a large geographical area. You can be a small fish with a large courier company or be a big fish with a local or regional courier service.
Most courier services offer competitive rates and special discounts for product distribution, mid-mile delivery (from Factory or DC to Branch) and final-mile (from DC or Branch to Customer). A good courier service will have a comprehensive fleet of vehicles which allows them to transport a wide range of items. They have smaller vehicles for small package delivery and large trucks for bulky items, including pallets of stock, house-hold items and much more. Courier services are also more flexible when it comes to the speed of your delivery. Most offer a much faster service than USPS, including Next-Day & Same-Day delivery service options.
Courier Services like to use technologies that improve efficiency, then hold themselves more accountable for the service. Most courier services offer an Online service to streamline the order process and make it easier for their customers to ship their products. You can place orders online and track them from start to finish, retrieve proof-of-delivery, get delivery notifications and run shipment reports. If you have a lot of shipments, you can upload your delivery orders from a spreadsheet or connect directly through their software. Since everything is available on-line, customers can usually calculate a price before placing an order. Simply put, a courier service is going to offer you more options, transparency and control over the delivery process.
So, which of these should you use? It depends on what you are shipping and where your customers are. Here are a few examples.
- You have a DC in Orlando FL, or several across the state, and you want to distribute your products to customers in your region, Florida or the Southeast. Your best choice is probably a local or regional courier service. Please keep in mind that local and regional couriers are partnering to expand their area of service.
- You have a lot of deliveries across the U.S., larger than a couple pounds, and you need them delivered the next day or within a few days. A large courier service will meet most of your needs. Keep in mind that some DC’s use a large courier, FedEx or UPS, for out-of-area deliveries and a local or regional courier service for the deliveries in their area. They will do this when they have a large group of customers in the region surrounding their DC and they want to save money or provide these customers an elevated level of service.
- If you have small products, like cell phone accessories, that need to be delivered randomly across the U.S., and are non-urgent deliveries, USPS may be the best option.
Business Express Courier Services is a local Orlando courier service and a regional courier with distribution services extending throughout Florida. We offer on-demand courier service and product distribution, including DC transfers, final-mile delivery and warehousing. We provide unparalleled customer service to all our clients and utilize real-time GPS and route optimization technology to get the best out of our fleet. Please contact us if you would like more information or a quote for the services we provide.