Why you should make the switch
With Royal Mail you are dealing with a huge elephant of a company that has little concern about the service that it provides specifically to you. It is driven by nationwide service targets and individual attention is not given to individual businesses.
When you deal with one of the commercial parcel companies, you are back in the commercial world: line managers are assessed on the service that they provide to you. Account managers are allocated to each customer. They are a point of contact that you can discuss any issues with, someone that is responsible for the service that they are providing your company.
How to negotiate prices
The Royal Mail has a fixed tariff of prices. You can sometimes get discounts on these if you are using franking machines and sorting your own dispatches. If you send huge volumes, or if you’re willing to pay for it, the Royal Mail will collect from your premises instead of you having to send one of your employees daily down to the Post Office.
Switching to a commercial parcel company means that all mail and parcels are collected from your property, on whatever schedule you agree. It also means that those that are sending large volumes get to negotiate discounts. Tariffs reflect the volume of parcels that you are sending.
I’m a small company. Will the parcel companies be interested in me?
Many of the parcel companies offer online websites where you can book a single parcel for substantially less than post office costs. You don’t need to be a huge company, sending hundreds of parcels a week. Even the smallest companies have very real alternatives to the Royal Mail.
Christmas is the most important season for us: we take 80 per cent of our revenues during the Pre-Christmas period. How can switching from Royal Mail help me?
During the busiest times you need your deliveries to run like clockwork. You need to know that when you dispatch parcels, your customers are going to receive them promptly. You need to be assured that they’re going to be delivered to the right address, not to wheelie bins, or left in sorting offices and “we tried to deliver…” cards dropped through letter boxes.
The Royal Mail requires you to wait three weeks before claiming for lost items. Up till then, they’re not lost, merely “delayed”. If you are sending out high value items with the ultimate requirement to be delivered before Christmas, the last thing you as a business want to be doing is waiting for three weeks to find out whether or not the parcel is actually going to be delivered.
Remember that the mail depots and sorting centres invariably get maxed out during the run up to Christmas. Mail delivery times can be unpredictable across the country: some mail centres might struggle to cope with volumes and see substantial backlogs, while others cope well. This means that as a business you are put in the position of not really knowing how long delivery should take. Not good for you, or your customers.
All items on commercial parcel services are tracked. Parcels on the Royal Mail’s parcel services aren’t tracked at all. Tracking means that you can keep your customers up to date and informed on their delivery. It means you are in control, not the Royal Mail.
I send out a lot of small light parcels and everyone tells me that the Royal Mail is cheapest. What are the advantages to switching from the Royal Mail?
Firstly, don’t assume that the Royal Mail is always cheapest. You need to compare like with like, and the standard mail services (first and second class, Royal Mail Parcels, Signed for, Recorded Delivery) are NOT guaranteed mail delivery services. This means that Royal Mail do not guarantee to deliver your item.
The cheapest guaranteed mail service with Royal Mail is Special Delivery, and prices for this start at just under £5. This is the service that is comparable to a parcel delivery network’s service, where it’s tracked, insured, and guaranteed delivery.
Now, most of the commercial parcel carriers can offer regular senders their “lite” products from around the £4.50 mark.
Is it worth paying for guaranteed delivery?
Only you can decide that. But it is important to think of the full costs of delivery, not simply the price of the stamp on the envelope. Costs that you should consider include:
– Time staff spend at Post Offices, and with weighing and stickering/franking mail.
– The cost of dealing with unhappy customers whose items have been lost or delayed.
–The cost of sending out replacements. (Remember that the Royal Mail reimburses your cost price only, not your time, expenses or profit.)
–The cost of losing customers, unhappy that the delivery has taken several days longer than expected, and that they have no idea of when the parcel is due. No-one wants to miss the delivery their Christmas presents, particularly when order values can run into the hundreds of pounds.Sandra Patterson is co-MD of Boxby, the online courier marketplace.Related articlesHow to solve a problem like Royal Mail Royal Mail strikes called offStrikes cause "untold damage" to Royal Mail’s reputation
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