There are many advantages in having a third-party logistics partner for your online retail business, rather than your own dedicated courier fleet. It’s scalable to your operation’s size, can cater to a geographically-wide customer base, and operates on a fee-for-service basis.
Some of the better providers offer a trackable service using GPS, or a predictable delivery window for consumers.
But there are disadvantages too.
In the online retail world (which I operate in) positive reviews and social media mentions are crucial to ongoing business. If a courier let us down, it could sour the customer’s positive experience. Such a small detail could determine whether the customer recommends our product to others. In a cut-throat online world, we can’t afford to risk it.
Thankfully, many third-party logistic providers now recognise the value of their service to both the online retailer and the shopper. We now see more ambitious service level agreements from the likes of Direct Freight Express, Star Track and TNT, along specific delivery times, GPS tracking, call on approach and even after-hours service from companies such as Zoom2U.
When selecting a delivery company, focus on how well the service meets your specific requirements. Here are my ‘must-haves’:
- Reputation – are they well established with a strong reputation? Do they care about maintaining a positive experience?
- Experience/current customer base – do similar companies to yours use their service? What is their track record with other online retailers?
- Coverage – can they deliver everywhere you need them to including national/regional and even remote parts of Australia? Do they have capacity for regional deliveries or a third-party solution? How does it work?
- Delivery speed – Are they fast? Are they reliable? Do they offer a consistent delivery timetable? Can they offer additional services such as two-hour delivery windows or a call on approach?
- Care and attention – do your goods arrive looking battered and bruised, or does the courier look after your items. There’s nothing worse for your brand image than a ripped carton and damaged goods.
- Customer service – how do they rate on customer service and problem solving? It is easy to be wooed by a professional sales rep, but the ongoing service will determine the longevity of the relationship.
- Rates – Are they willing to negotiate rates?
- Tracking – Can you or your customers track the delivery (with a tracking number or GPS method)? How efficient is it? Is there a solution for re-delivery if needed?
Customer expectations have changed the game for retailers and transport companies alike.
You shouldn’t have to accept disappointing service as the status quo. An innovative third party logistic company that shares your values can deliver a real point of difference for your brand.
What has been your experiences when selecting a delivery company?