If your business relies on sending products to its customers, you need a way for these products to go from A to B. Therefore, two key options present themselves:
- Hire a courier firm to handle it for you
- Start your own delivery service
We’re going to look at both of these options today, but mainly focusing on the second idea. Is it smart to deal with delivering your goods all by yourself? What are the advantages of this? Conversely, what are the downsides and how would a courier firm be a better option? Let’s find the answers to all of these questions!
Pro: Stay in control
The overruling benefit of starting your own delivery service is that you maintain control over every order. You aren’t putting your business in the hands of a third party, relying on them to deliver things to your customers. When you own the delivery service, you have more confidence that things can and will be delivered on time.
You also have control over certain specific things – like the vehicles your fleet will use. It can mean you use entirely electric vehicles, lowering your carbon footprint and creating secondary benefits.
Pro: A more streamlined approach
In theory, using your own delivery service means you have a more streamlined approach to everything. When customers place orders, you simply process them and ship them out as required. There’s no need to contact a middle-man to come to your business, pick up the orders, and then distribute them.
For example, let’s say you run a restaurant and you sell take-out orders. Someone orders food to be delivered to their home, so you make the meal and send one of your delivery drivers out. If you relied on a third-party service, you’d need to contact them, arrange for a driver to come to your restaurant, and hope that they arrive on time. When they eventually turn up, they deliver the food to the customer. An extra step is there that doesn’t need to exist.
The same is true for an online store that sells products – you can just gather the orders from your warehouse and send them out whenever you like instead of waiting for a courier service to come and pick them up.
Pro: Faster deliveries
The knock-on effect of a more streamlined delivery system is that it can lead to faster deliveries for customers. In fact, this is one of the many reasons Amazon deliveries are so much quicker than other companies. Amazon can literally send you an order on the same day you placed it because they have their own vans and delivery service. Yes, other factors come into play, but this is one of the main reasons they can offer fast deliveries as they don’t have to wait around for a service provider.
Usually, you’d need to get all the orders ready and wait for the courier to pick them up from your distribution center. Or, you’d have to send the orders to a separate place where they’re loaded onto a truck and dispatched. Either way, it’s never going to allow the fastest speeds for your customers. When you have your own delivery service, you can get things from A to B far quicker than you ever imagined.
Con: More expensive
Yes, starting your own delivery service for your business is going to cost more than working with a third party. This is because managing a fleet involves so many additional costs. On a basic level, you have the cost of hiring employees and buying fleet vehicles. You will dramatically increase your monthly expenses, which can be too much to handle for your small business.
On the other hand, working with a courier service may offer less control and slower deliveries, but it’s far cheaper.
Con: More liability on your end
Another worry is that you become more liable than you are if deliveries are made by a different company. You see, you are paying all the drivers to work for you. Therefore, if they get injured on the job or crash their vehicle, you are technically liable to cover compensation as they have been hurt while working for you.
Also, if a third-party delivery service loses a customer’s package, you should be able to get them to reimburse you. After all, it is technically their fault, not yours. But, if you own the delivery service, you’re liable for any lost packages and the reimbursements that follow. Effectively, this also ties into the previous point as you’d likely need to spend more money on comprehensive insurance policies to protect your business in these instances.
Con: Extra stress
Lastly, dealing with deliveries can add some extra stress that you don’t need to deal with. Processing orders and getting them ready for deliveries is one thing, let alone adding the actual delivery process to the situation.
For some businesses, it’s simply too much to manage all at once. You could be better off handing the reins to a company that already has things in place to handle lots of deliveries and get your products to customers ASAP. They can deal with awkward things like tracking packages, keeping customers updated, and so on. You really don’t appreciate how much work goes into delivering something until you attempt it on your own.
Should you start your own delivery service?
Ultimately, it comes down to money and resources. Can you afford to have your own delivery service? Some small businesses can – restaurants and cafes may be able to handle this easily as they deliver locally throughout the day. But, an online company that delivers all over the country would need extra resources – like big delivery vans and multiple warehouses – which can cost a fortune.
I guess the bottom line is that you don’t need to manage the delivery side of things. It can provide benefits, but is it worth the added expenses? Courier services are usually fairly reliable and affordable, so why don’t you start out with them? If you think things would improve by handling some orders yourself, you can work out if it’s financially viable or not.