Finding the best courier for a small business in the UK comes down to several factors. Naturally, you need to prioritise controlling your costs. But you also want to work with UK couriers that provide the best shipping services to keep loyal customers coming back for more.
This guide will talk you through:
- How to find the right UK courier (or couriers) for your e-commerce business
- The most reputable delivery companies
- How to decide for yourself which UK couriers are the most suitable for your business and customer needs
Let’s get started!
How to decide the best courier for your small business?
We mentioned the importance of balancing cheap and fairly priced couriers with delivering (pardon the pun) a quality service to your customers.
As one of the first points of contact your customers will have with your business, it’s vital they receive their goods on time and in great condition. You also need to offer the return options that suit them best.
The best courier for your e-commerce business depends on the volumes, sizes and weights of the packages you send, the type of products you sell, and how you want to grow your business.
Looking to grow your business? Reach out to one of our Sendcloud experts!
Which courier is the best for a small business in the UK?
The answer to this question is very dependent on the small business in question. Just like people, businesses are all unique and have their own wants and needs.
Finding the best courier for your small business is incredibly important though. Shipping can be one of the biggest outgoing costs a business can have, so you’ll likely need to be as cost-savvy as you can be.
One top tip before you read on – make sure you have a clear idea of your available budget. Ensuring your business is sustainable will help you continue to grow your customer base. And to do this, you have to be realistic about what you can afford.
The Cheapest Couriers for Small Businesses
Evri (the new Hermes) is considered a great courier for small businesses in the UK. Mainly as it’s a very cost-effective option.
The standard costs for parcels are very competitive, particularly for smaller packages. Through Sendcloud you can access a range of fixed-rate delivery methods for low-weight products, without needing to negotiate a direct business contract with Evri.
Sendcloud’s exclusive pricing includes:
- Domestic next-day delivery starting at £3.41
- Standard international delivery starting at £6.75 for European shipments
- Locker delivery as cheap as £2.85
Evri C2C is a separate network within Evri. They specialise in businesses that don’t ship very high volumes (yet). This makes Evri C2C one of the best choices for small businesses in the UK.
With the standard Evri network, you ship parcels via a collection service with a minimum collection of 50 parcels. However, with Evri C2C you can hand in parcels at local parcel shops or lockers. With this, there’s more flexibility with volume, weight, and dimension.
Evri C2C really is a solid choice for webshops with smaller volumes, like independently run online stores, part-time online stores, or simply stores that are still in the growing phase.
Royal Mail is pretty much a national treasure in the UK and is widely considered one of the best couriers for small businesses in the UK
Let’s start with the price. If you’re sending modestly sized packages with the non-time-sensitive economy service, the price is competitive. But the shipping rates begin to increase if you add insurance, need quicker deliveries, or if you require tracking or proof of delivery, as these things aren’t included in the standard delivery services.
So what makes Royal Mail one of the best couriers for small businesses in the UK? Reliability. When you’re as renowned as Royal Mail, it’s for good reason. Whether you’re looking to expand nationally or internationally, Royal Mail has excellent coverage and flexibility via multiple delivery options.
InPost is a hugely popular courier for small businesses in the UK. They operate with a large network of parcel lockers which are accessible for both retailers and consumers 24/7.
The fact they’re 24/7 also makes them extremely convenient for customer returns.
The parcel lockers are typically located at:
- Train stations
- Petrol stations
They’re safe and secure as they’re fully automated and can only be accessed by inputting a code that is sent directly to the courier or customer.
On top of all of the above, Sendcloud’s prices with InPost are extremely competitive starting from £2.75 for packages under 1kg and from £6.25 for packages between 5-10kg.
Express or Specialised Couriers for Small Businesses
Do you need to ship heavier or larger items? Or maybe you want to mix ‘n’ match several delivery options from different couriers to ensure your customers can choose whether they want cheaper or next-day delivery?
Below, we’ll take a look at some more specialised couriers that may be higher in price, but can also provide a wider range of services for your customers.
UPS Standard + Standard to Access Point
UPS is becoming increasingly well-known for UK delivery. They’re fast and reliable with UPS Standard normally arriving within a single day to mainland UK locations.
UPS is famed for its huge max. weight of 70kg for Standard and 20kg for Access Point.
Sendcloud offers exclusive pricing starting from:
- £7.80 with domestic UPS Standard
- £7.35 with domestic UPS Standard to Access Point
And don’t forget, UPS has an expansive global network, with fast shipping across the globe. Sendcloud also offers exclusive pricing to ship to France, Germany, the US, and many more locations.
DPD is a very good option for businesses that are shipping slightly heavier items as DPD’s max. weight is 30kg. If your items are at the top end of the scale, you could save money.
Via Sendcloud, shipping options include:
- Next-day shipping starting at £7.08
- DPD Expresspak starting at £6.24 for items weighing up to 5kg
- DPD Saturday/Sunday delivery starting at £9.88
Small businesses using Sendcloud take advantage of combining the exclusive prices of both DPD and Evri by shipping their heavier items with DPD and all of the smaller, lighter items with Evri. Multi-courier strategies for the win!
Watch below to learn how growing business St Martin’s Coffee took advantage of combining DPD with Royal Mail, simplifying their shipping.
Parcelforce – Domestic
As you can imagine from a subsidiary of Royal Mail, the shipping rates are very similar. The main difference is that Parcelforce is generally more cost-effective for shipping heavier or larger parcels.
Parcelforce is also the more favoured option for time-specific deliveries.
Via Sendcloud, ship parcels up to 30kg with:
- Express 24 from £8.86
- Express 48 from £8.27
- Express AM 10 from £14.02
- Express Large 48 from £20.75
As all ambitious small businesses know, tracking services are a vital part of delivering great customer service. If you work with Parcelforce you’ll get free tracking as well as compensation if the parcel is late.
DHL’s costs are more size-specific than other UK couriers with 7 different price points for different size envelopes and boxes.
If you or your customers are happy to collect from a DHL depot or Service Point, these rates are also cheaper than door-to-door delivery.
DHL offers a number of volume-based discounts for business customers so it’s definitely worth looking at their offers when deciding which is the best UK courier for your small business.
If your volumes and other shipping requirements match their offers, DHL could be a good option for your online store. They also offer free tracking and signature on delivery (where available).
The best courier for small businesses in the UK – why choose just one?
With the high number of quality couriers in the UK and the growing demands of customers, why choose just one delivery service for your business?
Did you know that adopting a multi-courier strategy can have the following benefits?
- Increase choice for your customers
- Reduce checkout abandonment if a customer dislikes a certain courier
- Optimise costs by mixing ‘n’ matching the most cost-effective services (e.g. Economic delivery paired with Express, or a cheaper service for heavier goods)
- Avoid delivery delays by switching couriers when one has issues
- Offer convenient returns to your customers
With all this in mind, Sendcloud works closely with a number of the couriers above to get the best delivery rates, while our shipping software helps keep all your store’s shipments centralised on one platform, no matter how many couriers you ship with.
We’ve put together a comprehensive pricing list to make it easy for you to save money and make the right choices for your business and customers.