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Hermes vs Royal Mail – These couriers are both well known and popular UK shipping providers, with Royal Mail being the official postal service of the country. Both have a good standing among many e-commerce retailers with very accessible and affordable shipping options. It can be a tough decision to choose between the two as they are both certainly worth considering to use with your e-commerce store.

This guide will give you an overview of both Hermes and Royal, including information about both their domestic and international shipping services. It also features a comparison of costs, customer satisfaction and reliability – all criteria that are fundamental to the success of your business. Read on to discover if Hermes or Royal Mail are the right shipping providers for your business.

But before we start, if you’d like to compare more couriers than just Royal Mail and Hermes, feel free to download our complete Courier Comparison Guide 2021. We compare the shipping services, costs, pros, cons, and more for; Royal Mail, Hermes, FedEx, DPD, DHL Parcel, DHL Express, UPS, and Pacelforce.

Hermes: company overview

hermes vs royal mail
Hermes Europe GmbH was founded in 1972 in West Germany. The carrier is known in the UK as myHermes, where it works with some of the UK’s top online retailers such as BooHoo, Next, ASOS, River Island, John Lewis and PrettyLittleThing. 

Hermes specialises in highly flexible and affordable delivery options. They deliver over 400 million parcels every year to domestic and business addresses as well as Hermes ParcelShops and lockers. Hermes operates over 5,000 ParcelShops which are located in local businesses across the UK and over 1,000 lockers which consumers can access 24/7.

Royal Mail: company overview

royal mail vs hermes
Established in 1516, Royal Mail is the UK’s official postal service and one of the most recognisable and trusted delivery services. In fact, Royal Mail was the clear leader for the most preferred carrier by consumers in Sendcloud’s consumer research. Royal Mail delivers to 29 million addresses throughout the country. It also operates Parcelforce Worldwide, its international postal service which services 230 countries and nation states worldwide including 36 in Europe.

Shipping in the UK with Hermes

Hermes offers delivery services 7 days a week. There are two delivery options for shipping in the UK; 

Next Day delivery: if you drop a parcel at a ParcelShop or locker it will be delivered the next day. This includes Saturday and Sunday.

Standard delivery: send a parcel from a ParcelShop or locker using this service and it will be delivered in between 2 and 5 days. 

Hermes customers can arrange parcel pick ups via a courier service from both domestic or business addresses or from ParcelShops or lockers.

International shipping methods offered by Hermes

Hermes offers a reliable international delivery service to over 190 countries worldwide, partnering with local couriers from the delivery destination to deliver the package. No matter where you are sending, your parcels are covered by £20 insurance. The whole journey is trackable, giving you complete visibility of your parcel’s progress. 

Customers can choose from a courier pick up or drop off at a Hermes ParcelShop. Delivery time takes between three to seven working days. The cost of delivery depends on where you are sending from and to and the weight of your packages. 

Important note: Hermes ParcelShops can only accept packages up to 115cm in length and 15kg in weight. 

Shipping in the UK with Royal Mail

british postbox

Royal Mail 1st and 2nd Class

This is Royal Mail’s economy service and is suitable for shipments that don’t require tracking or guaranteed delivery time. You can ship packages of up to 20kg for next day delivery with Royal Mail 1st Class, and up to 1kg packages for 2nd Class. Costs depend on the weight and dimensions of your shipment. 

Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed

This is a guaranteed next working day service including Saturdays. Packages weighing up to 2k will arrive by 09:00. Packages up to 10kg will arrive by 13:00. Full tracking is available. 

Royal Mail 24 and 48 or Royal Mail Tracked 24 and 48.

These shipping services from Royal Mail are available with or without tracking. Adding tracking to the service incurs a higher cost but you still get the guaranteed delivery time.  Customers can choose between next-day delivery with the Royal Mail 24 or Royal Mail Tracked 24 services or delivery within 2 – 3 days with Royal Mail 48 or Royal Mail Tracked 48. 

UK Courier Service from Royal Mail

For guaranteed deliveries in the UK choose from the following services:

  • express 9 – next working day delivery by 09:00 – prices start at £39.90
  • express 9 – next working day delivery by 10:00 – prices start at £29.82
  • expressAM – next working day delivery by 12 noon – prices start at £19.74
  • express24 – next working day delivery by close of business – prices start at £16.88
  • express48 – delivery within two working days – prices start at £12.12
  • express48 Large – within 2 working days for items up to 2.5m long – prices start at £31.80

International shipping methods offered by Royal Mail

Royal Mail offers a range of international shopping services for parcels with a maximum weight of 2kg. Heavier packages are covered by Parcelforce, which we will cover next. 

  • International Tracked & Signed –  Delivery within 3-4 days. Prices starting at £6.85
  • International Tracked  – Delivery within 3-4 days. Prices starting at £6.75
  • International Signed –  Delivery within 3-5 days. Prices starting at £6.85
  • International Standard – Delivery within 3-5 days. Prices starting at £1.70
  • International Economy – Delivery within 2 weeks. Prices starting at £1.45

Royal Mail international shipping with Parcelforce 

If you need to send a heavier parcel, opt for Royal Mail’s sister company Parcelforce. International shipments with Parcelforce are usually delivered within 2 to 4 days and are priced depending on where you are sending to. 

Parcelforce customers can choose from the following international services: 

  • Global Express – from next working day – Prices starting at £43.50
  • Ireland Express – next working day – Prices starting at £16.68
  • Global Express – from 3 working days – Prices starting at £30.00
  • Global Value – from 5-8 working days – Prices starting at £9.78
  • Global Economy – from 28-46 working days – Prices starting at £24.70

Pros and cons for shipping with Hermes

tracking app

Pros Cons
Competitive pricing, particularly for high volume, low weight shipments that are not time-sensitive.  Not generally as popular as other couriers so may not be your customer’s preferred choice. 
A large network of 5,000 ParcelShops and lockers where customers can send, collect, and return packages. Not as much choice for UK delivery services as other carriers. 
Postable packages for goods under 1kg with guaranteed delivery. Other shipping companies offer a wider range of guaranteed and tracked international delivery services.
1,000+ convenient locker locations across the UK which are accessible 24/7.
Free app for tracking, redirecting and returning packages and setting preferences for package delivery. This gives your customers more flexibility and control and reduces the risk of your products not being delivered.

Pros and cons for shipping with Royal Mail

Pros Cons
A trusted and well-regarded service (Royal Mail was named consumers most preferred carrier in Sendcloud’s Delivery Compass 2020).  Some international shipping services are outsourced to Parcelforce, Royal Mail’s sister company. 
The Royal Mail 2nd Class service includes free £20 insurance cover, which is great for vendors who send low-cost shipments that aren’t time-sensitive or require tracking.  Tracking isn’t included as standard in all Royal Mail’s services. 
Offers a wide range of economic services both domestically and internationally.  Physical customer service is only available in limited daytime hours. 
Offers a good range of trackable express services. 

What are the key differences between Hermes and Royal Mail?

The next step in choosing the right shipping provider for your business is to compare the two carriers’ key service offerings. This section will show how Hermes and Royal Mail stackup against one another when it comes to UK and international shipping costs so you can gauge whether Hermes is cheaper than Royal Mail or vice versa. We’ll also take a look at how reliable each carrier is plus how they compare in the all-important customer satisfaction.

Hermes vs Royal Mail: UK shipping costs

Parcel size Royal Mail shipping method Cost Hermes shipping method Cost
1-2 kg package Standard Delivery £2.70 Standard delivery £2.66
1-2 kg package Express48 delivery (1-2 working days) £8.60 *with post office drop-off*  Next Day delivery (1-2 working days) £6.50 *with ParcelShop drop-off*

Hermes vs Royal Mail: international shipping costs (Europe to Germany)

Parcel size Royal Mail shipping method Cost Hermes shipping method Cost
2 kg package Global Value (5-8 working days)  £22.56 Drop off / courier collection international service (3-7 working days) £12.12 drop off / £12.19 courier collection

Hermes vs Royal Mail:  international shipping costs (UK to USA)

Parcel size Royal Mail shipping method Cost Hermes shipping method Cost
2 kg package Global Value (5+ working days)  £35.35 Drop off / courier collection international service (3-7 working days) £39.34 drop off / £39.76 courier collection

Hermes vs Royal Mail: customer satisfaction

Taking a look at how satisfied other customers are with shipping carriers is a good way of gauging how likely you are to be happy with their service. Though, please do bear in mind that reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt. You don’t want your whole business decision to be affected by a handful of people who like to vent online, after all! With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Hermes and Royal Mail compare in terms of customer satisfaction. 

Sendcloud carried out a Delivery Compass survey in 2020 where Royal Mail was named consumers most preferred carrier and the company does indeed have a long-standing reputation for quality service and reliability. It has been around for a long time, which shows it knows what it’s doing. Statista also published survey results in 2019 that showed over half of respondents cited Royal Mail as their preferred carrier.

Hermes has been subject to some bad reviews in the past but the carrier has made considerable efforts to rectify problems and improve its services in recent years. In fact, at the time of writing Hermes scored an impressive 4.4 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot. A score that was taken from nearly 2 million reviews.

Hermes vs Royal Mail: which is the best carrier to choose for your business?

Your shipping service is one of the most important aspects of your business. Often it is the first point of contact your customers have with you, so you want it to be professional, punctual and a great experience overall. By choosing a provider who is reliable you will increase customer satisfaction and boost loyalty. You’ll build a reputation as a trusted e-commerce retailer that stands out from the competition. 

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to take some time on deciding which is the right carrier for your business. Or perhaps you are better off using a variety of different carriers to suit your domestic and international requirements. You don’t need to limit yourself to one, after all. 

To help you start your decision making process, try answering the following questions:

  1. What destinations, domestically and internationally, do you need to send packages to on a regular basis? 
  2. What weight(s) are most of your packages?
  3. What are your budgets and the costs you need to manage?
  4. What tracking services do you and your customers need?
  5. Would you like a choice of pickup or drop off services?  
  6. Will you need customer support from real people or simply community platforms? 
  7. What kind of notification services will you require?
  8. Do you need any e-commerce plugins or integrations? 

So, which is the shipping service that might suit your business?

Hermes shipping services will suit e-commerce retailers who…

  • Regularly ship smaller items. Hermes offers postable (under 1kg) packages, which are a great guaranteed delivery option for your customers. 
  • Want to offer customers the option of convenient pickups and returns from the 5,000+ ParcelShops based in local businesses across the UK. Or the 1,000+ lockers which consumers can access 24/7. 
  • Send over 150 parcels a week. This means you qualify for a business account with discounted rates, fully tracked services, a dedicated account manager and more. Visit the website for more details. 
  • Want to integrate their account with an e-commerce platform such as Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Linnworks, Zenstores or Volo. Doing so allows you to streamline your processes, saving time and reducing margin for error. 
  • Want to offer customers connected voice services with Alexa and Google Assistant. 
  • Give customers flexibility and control of their shipments via a free app. This service also helps to reduce the risk of products not being delivered.  
  • Want to save money on insurance cover for low-cost items (Hermes offers £20 insurance cover for free. Additional insurance is available for parcels with a higher value). 
  • Want to offer customers the ability to print return labels for free at ParcelShops. 

Royal Mail shipping services should suit e-commerce retailers who…

  • Need a low-cost domestic service for shipments that aren’t time-sensitive and do not require tracking. 
  • Require a variety of reasonably priced services with guaranteed delivery. 
  • Want to offer a variety of international shipment options including highly economical services with slower delivery times. 
  • Require a next day delivery service on both weekdays and Saturdays. 
  • Want to offer customers the opportunity to have parcels collected UK-wide and at a low cost by Royal Mail postal workers as part of their round.
  • Receive at least 20 return shipments per week and want a reasonably priced tracked return service. 
  • Want to get free weekday pickups and regularly ship high volumes. If you spend over £15,000 a year with Royal Mail you can avail of this service.

So, as we come to the end of our guide to Hermes vs Royal Mail we hope you are well on your way to deciding which carrier is the best choice for you and your customers. We have mentioned above, but it’s a very important point – ambitious e-commerce retailers don’t need to opt for just one single shipping carrier. It’s likely that you’ll have a variety of shipping needs and different types of customer preferences to fulfil. So, why not choose a mix of the best services for your business from a few different suppliers? Perhaps one carrier is the ideal option for your UK deliveries and another is the stand-out for your freight requirements. Your choice depends on what you need for your business to grow and thrive. 

And if the idea of having more choice and control over your shipping is appealing, then why not sign up to ship using a multi-carrier strategy with Sendcloud! In addition to offering a wider choice to meet you and your customer’s needs, Sendcloud saves you time on admin and helps control costs! Find out more today.

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