I have relied on courier services for a number of years now, and have only the highest praise for the work they do. If you have ever been in the unenviable position of having to have something delivered or sent urgently, either nationally or even internationally, with a seemingly impossible time limit, you will know that feeling of absolute panic at the thought of making the deadline. On the other hand, there is that feeling of absolute luxury when you order an item online and have it delivered personally to your door, without having the hassle of collecting it yourself with all the additional inconvenience of driving there, finding parking, waiting in queues, etc. Online shopping is a little like a magic trick – select your goods, pay for them securely online, and then sit back and wait for your purchase to be delivered to you. In the long run, you buy more economically since you don’t have the temptation to call in at other shops whilst you are out, and end up spending more on items which you don’t really need. Those unplanned “nice-to-haves” are many shoppers’ downfall when it comes to financial economy. But, of course, it is essential that we have courier services which are able to deliver for us if we plan to switch to online shopping.
Are there different types of couriers?
There is more than one type of courier service, depending on the item being transported and its urgency.
- On-board couriers. These are arguably the most expensive and in-depth courier services, and are used for items of extreme importance. These couriers most often travel internationally, and carry items such as specific medical cargo, critical tools and parts, high-value articles and time-logged legal or business documentation. In some cases, the courier will send a dedicated individual with the goods to be delivered. These couriers usually use commercial airlines, so the cost of a return flight has to be included in the cost of the delivery.
- Personal couriers. As the name implies, these couriers transport mainly items of a personal nature. These couriers travel in general over shorter distances, for instance within cities, and will use either motorbikes or vehicles to get around quickly. Since a personal courier is often dedicated to one client at a time, there is the speed factor of not having to wait for other deliveries to be made en-route to your address.
- Overnight couriers. These couriers travel throughout the night, hence their name. Couriers are able to deliver over fairly long distances which may involve road or air travel. So, for instance, an order placed with the courier on a Tuesday afternoon will be delivered on Wednesday, usually in the morning.
- Same-day couriers. These couriers are fairly restricted as regards distance, but are able to deliver fragile and urgent items within a very short period.
- Next-day couriers. These couriers will accept orders until a certain time on the day before delivery, for instance 21h00, and undertake to deliver the next day. These are a great option for special items such as birthday or anniversary gifts bought online at the last minute, but which can still be delivered on the required date. Some couriers will charge an additional fee for this service, but many overseas couriers who offer this service include it as part of their overall service. When I was in the United Kingdom, I found that many online shopping sites offered this courier service as a standard option with no additional fee, but this is entirely up to the discretion of the site and courier, of course.
- Standard couriers take a number of days to deliver the goods, but the progress of the parcel is usually constantly trackable online by the customer. Their prices are not as high as other courier types, which is a factor to take into account. Are you happy for the goods to be delivered after a few days, or are they exceptionally urgent? If they can wait, then this is probably the best option for you in terms of pricing. These couriers can sometimes carry prescribed medication internationally if it is authorised and accompanied by the appropriate documentation. Not all couriers will do this, however, and you will need to provide full authorised documents and be prepared for your parcel to be opened and inspected by customs officials in both the originating and destination countries.
How do I choose the best courier for my needs?
Courier services do not all operate the same way, as can be seen from the above general categories. It all depends on what you want to have delivered or collected, and the speed at which it needs to be done. Convenience, timing and reliability are core values for any reputable courier company, and there are plenty of them to choose from. If you have never used a courier before, by all means ask around or check through Uptasker’s list of suppliers in your area and read their online reviews.