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Australia Post or Courier

Date Added: 6 Jan 2012
Author: Top Choice Variety
Category: Businesses: Transport, Postal and Warehousing: Postal and Courier Pick-up and Delivery Services: Postal Services

Probably the most important key in online retail business is shipping. The better you can control, the more profit (and less trouble) you can make, but I don't mean getting the cheapest delivery company... the key is to use the most reliable delivery company that saves you trouble.

What do I mean by trouble? read on.

Unless you are shipping large and bulky items like furniture, popular couriers are Fastway and Courier Please. These companies are franchises, each driver is franchisee, so they service on their own "territory" . They are generally cheaper than Australia Post (AP) for metro areas, and for similar price (compared to AP's regular post), you get tracking number, which is very important to protect yourself from dispute, charge-back etc. This sounds pretty good but you will never know the trouble they make until you use them for awhile.

Facts to consider:

  1. Most online customers are individuals, they need to work (otherwise how do they get paid to shop online?), and mostly not home during business hours.
  2. Many buyers use PO BOX (no courier will deliver to PO Box, because they don't delivery to their competitor's mail box...).
  3. Courier's delivery time is unpredictable, they could deliver at 8 in the morning, or when people are off lunch...
  4. There are still large portion of buyers live in country area. These couriers charge much higher rate to deliver to those country areas. Only AP can cover entire area in Australia.

Considering these facts, you can start to imagine what trouble the courier can give you.

  1. First, trouble will occur when customer is not home, normally courier will leave notification card (sometimes with driver's phone) for customers to arrange re-delivery or pick-up at their depot. Some courier might charge "re-delivery fee" (like TNT). Although Fastway or Courier Please won't charge re-delivery fee, but it's trouble enough to contact the driver to re-deliver, given that you are not home the whole day anyway. It occurred to me once that the buyer didn't contact the driver and the items finally returned to me – postage wasted!
  2. Secondly, some franchisee drivers are really ridiculous that they sign the paper themselves and drop the package at the door when they are suppose to get signature. If you think deeper, you will realise, the franchisee that picks up your item maybe a good driver, but not all drivers are good drivers! the one that delivers your item is probably a bastard. And your buyers are scattered around AU, you just can't assume all of them will obey the rules. They are the boss of their own, it's huge difference between playing boss and playing employee, if you know what I mean. I had this lots of time with Fastway, occasionally customer told me they didn't receive any parcel where the tracking result says delivered with signature obtained!
  3. Thirdly, in case of missing parcel, these courier companies only compensate you the PURCHASE COST of the items rather than the selling price, to me, it is so weird to give the courier company the purchase order of my supplier... I don't want them to know my price! AP is a lot better, AP will compensate at selling price+postage (at AP's discretion, they will compensate items that posted by Regular Post for up to $50 and Registered Post for up to $100, more if extra cover is purchased), you will need to provide the invoice (the one you give to customer) and the receipt of the postage.

So why Australia Post?

  1. Can post to anywhere in AU, the cost is flat rate if items are less than 500g, or can fit in 500g satchel or 3kg satchel via regular/express/registered post.
  2. Can post to PO Box, which is an irreplaceable advantage.
  3. If no one is home, they will leave card and you can pick up item at nearest post office. There has to be one near you, agree?
  4. They all stick to the rules.
  5. In case missing, AP is very likely to compensate for the selling price+postage, but I can tell you the chance of missing is probably less than 1%.

But... maybe you still think the "tracking number" still worths to use courier... In my experience of online selling, dispute or chargeback are rare, you can still consider express post or registered post to cover yourself. However the troubles that courier cause will give you enough headache and chances are very high too.

Shipping is one pain-in-the-ass issue in online business, and you don't want to piss your buyers off because in their point of view they already paid and expect to receive items within expected time frame, and you just can't blame them for not being home if you know what I mean. You will probably end up resending the items at your own cost to please your customer.

We stopped using courier to avoid all these sorts of trouble. Not saying AP is perfect, in very small chance, they can still be troublesome if someone forgot or didn't get carded to go to post office to collect items, AP will return items back to you with a RTS sticker (return to sender), and sometimes (depend on post office) they will charge you for returning fee! But overall, IMHO, AP is the best.

To stay out of trouble, use Australia Post.

Top Choice Variety