Aggregators, traditional players, same-day mavericks, P2P – it all gets a bit hectic to figure out who’s who in the zoo and who’s best for you. Read on for our handy guide to help you navigate the different types of Australian delivery services to understand the best fit for your business.
These carriers come to the mind’s eye when you think of traditional postage or courier (red and white logo, anyone?). Part of the national fabric, these businesses were established well before digital disruption and have undergone enormous transformation in recent years to keep pace with changing business and customer behaviour.
Traditional players have what we refer to as ‘traditional infrastructure’. This is characterised by large, high-investment physical centres where parcels are processed and sorted to go onto other locations for delivery. This infrastructure is built for high volumes but higher than expected parcel volumes can significantly slow down delivery, such as at Christmas time or during peak retail events. Generally, they operate with a nationwide footprint and strong international alliances, allowing items to be sent interstate or overseas. Volumes allow the average person to send items with relative cost efficiency if they’re not too concerned with delivery timeframes.
They’re also powered by large workforces, generally a mix of salaried employees, and outsourced contracts with smaller providers, or independent contractors. Some players in this space provide on-demand point to point courier services, suited to B2B at a higher price point.
Best for: Big volumes, long-distances and non-urgent deliveries
Watch outs: Meeting delivery timeframes + customer experience
Newer entrants in the tech space, aggregators create software platforms that combine multiple carriers via a single interface. This allows the business to choose the right carrier for that specific delivery requirement, and instantly compare delivery timeframes and costs. The aggregator develops the platform, then recruits carriers to be featured upon it.
Aggregator software is designed to plug into a wide range eCommerce platforms to make the experience seamless. This can be customer facing, so the purchaser can directly choose the right delivery option for them. It’s a good option for new businesses so they’re not locked into a single provider; or for those that have very varied delivery requirements.
However, it is ‘one step removed’ from having a direct relationship with a carrier, so quality control and ensuring a great brand experience for your customers will be more of a challenge. Aggregators typically integrate into multiple carriers, so it can be one-size-fits-all with a shallow focus on recipient experience. Also, businesses won’t benefit from commercials designed specifically for their requirements, and may miss out on incentives or volume discounts. Businesses seeking to avoid ‘margin-on-margin’ typically avoid aggregators, as they’ll get better pricing when they engage with carriers directly.
Best for: Very varied delivery requirements and instant cost comparison
Watch outs: Quality control + paying over the odds
Same-day delivery can be a difficult nut to crack – ensuring a guaranteed same-day delivery service while not compromising on customer experience is a challenge that calls for specific infrastructure and process design. Same-day delivery is becoming increasingly popular, as consumer expectations are higher. It’s common overseas in populous cities but due to our sprawling geography and lower volumes, local operators have been slow to offer this service.
A new hybrid of same-day and eCommerce specialists (of which Deliver In Person is one!) focus on the specific needs of online retailers, who generally send high volumes. These retailers often don’t have a physical store offering, so ensuring the online experience is great right until the parcel is received by the customer is a big component of how well their brand will be perceived. Parcels are generally dispatched from large distribution centres in remote locations; and the clock is ticking to deliver within a few hours to meet same-day deadlines.
However, carriers such as Deliver In Person use a mobile or microhub fulfilment network that can be easily recalibrated to meet demand. They’re able to do bulk pick up which can service significant volume, and are reverse logistics enabled which makes them a great fit for eCommerce retailers.
Some carriers still charge per-kilometre, but Deliver In Person has a flat pricing structure, meaning it’s ideal for metro-wide delivery. Another thing to check carefully are their success metrics to ensure same-day really does mean same-day. Deliver In Person has 100% same-day success, and is able to deliver on the first attempt more than 98% of the time.
Best for: eCommerce retailers with significant volume
Watch-outs: Check their same-day success metrics + pricing structure
Point to point services do what they say on the tin: they collect an item from one location and deliver it to another in a single trip – on-demand food delivery companies diversifying by also handling eCommerce parcels. Recently, Uber has launched their Uber Connect service which uses their existing gig workforce to deliver items instead of people or food.
Its big benefit is the ‘on demand’ nature, which will see a driver dispatched to your location within minutes of placing your booking. It’s also super easy to get started, with an app download, a few details and a credit card all you need to begin using the service.
P2P services are charged via the kilometre, so work best for occasional deliveries, higher margin products or when delivering locally within a few kilometres. If the business needs to service a higher volume of parcels across a wider metro catchment, this option can be cost prohibitive for most businesses. Businesses are best to check the limitations carefully, as the service can be riddled with caveats.
The other limitation is bulk pick up – items going to separate addresses are booked as separate deliveries, so managing more than a few daily becomes a challenge – imagine needing to book a hundred separate Uber drivers every day!
Best for: Local + urgent deliveries
Watch-outs: Tricky for volume or a wider delivery area