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Hopefully this is type of post is allowed - guess I'll soon find out :)
So far we have limited our business to selling small / lightweight items that we can send using Royal Mail parcel post (weigh, frank and drop at the Post Office).
We are looking to expand our range in to heavier items (up to around 1.5 - 2kg), and would be interested to hear of others experience. 99% of our sales are within the UK, so international shipping is not huge concern.
In our experience couriers will only compete with Royal Mail's First Class postal service at about 1.75kg - ie that tends to be the cutoff point where they become competitive.
So basically everything over 1.75kg in our business gets pushed through City Link's Next Day service, which works well - free insurance, pickup, online tracking and web-based viewing of the signature, etc. Have a look around there's a lot of couriers out there and most are negotiable. It's worth sitting down with their rep and seeing what he'll do for you. Other factors are worth considering, ie perhaps who will do the latest pickup for you - your rep will probably be able to tell you that based on current pickups in your area.
1. If it is franchise setup where each depot is a privately owned business then AVOID it. Depots not earning money directly from you have no incentive to help you despite what head office says. They won't answer your calls, they won't fax you PODs, they won't follow up missing goods, they don't give a monkey's.
2. Call and call and call. See how easy it is to get through on their phones. And, find out what the complaints procedure is... and the route to escalation of a complaint.
See also this thread [webmasterworld.com]
at the weights that your talking about then i would say that they can all be good.
If its delicate glass/electronics etc - UPS (they won't carry more than 70kg consignments, most of the component suppliers use them. Most are lose loaders - which will put an small innocent box next to a freely moving crate that may way 100 times its weight.
If its not and its ruggid then TNT would probably be the best option.
Though worth checking out Amtrak, Interlink & its partners around Europe.
There are many others that some will recommend., but the most important thing to look at is the following.
1. Quantity of dispatches - # per month (get rates based on a months work - not per dispatch > you'll get robbed).
2. Delicacy of items - Style of courier (TNT is lose loader, UPS is max weight / compartment loader).
3. Quality of Service - Items getting damaged, getting lost, not getting there at all!
4. Type of Service - Timed delivery's, etc.
If you do get a courier in to chat about what they can do for you.
Ask about breakages, timed deliveries, coverage of the UK, whether they are a franchise chain, or entirely owned by the brand, how they pack, and the scalability of reducing their costs for an increase of work.
Royal Mail Special Deliveries are another option - though i would not recommend them for delicates.
Have a laugh, ask to see a copy of their claims form and see what happens
And it wasn't just insurance claims they were rubbish on.