Christmas parcel delivery nightmares – what can you do?

parcel delivery, sending
Closeup hands of delivery man holding package to deliver. Courier hand holding brown box isolated on grey background. Detail of delivery man carrying cardboard parcel with label with copy space.

Will this Christmas be remembered for parcel delivery delays? Or will it be remembered as the time small businesses took matters into their own hands to find business-changing solutions?

Some high-profile companies in Australia have recently taken steps to address parcel delivery backlogs – Kogan and Maggie Beer are two examples of businesses moving some of their delivery transport in-house.

They understandably want more control over their deliveries. And after the year we have had, where so much that has gone wrong has been out of our control, who can blame them?

Any small business, whether in B2C or B2B, can wrest back control of their deliveries by asking some simple questions:

Is in-house delivery an option? Many businesses across the nation have been left in the lurch by a national mail carrier that has struggled to keep up with surging parcel volumes this year.

Some businesses may engage courier services, but this is a relatively expensive option when you break down the cost-per-parcel delivered. Nor do you have any element of control over the service being delivered.

Small businesses may consider moving at least some of their parcel delivery in-house. Some in-house delivery is already common among retailers, wholesalers such as hospitality supplies or medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, food, dry goods, automotive parts, and building supplies to name a few.

Starting your own delivery fleet, by purchasing or leasing vehicles and drivers, imposes big fixed costs on your business. Most companies outsource all or at least some of their in-house delivery options to specialists.

An in-house option may start small, with just one van and driver, and should be flexible, providing room to scale up if necessary.

There are three main things small business needs to make in-house delivery a good option:

  1. The solution must be cost-competitive – if you understand your true delivery costs, and the value your customers place on reliable deliveries, then you will know if the costs are compelling.
  2. The solution must give you more control – more control over resources, more ability to scale up or scale down to meet your business demands. It must be more responsive to your unique needs. A good test: are they happy to let you start small and dip a toe in the water, or are they trying to push you into a massive investment?
  3. The solution must be professional – not all transport companies have the correct processes and systems to operate efficiently. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions and resist signing any long-term deals until you’re satisfied they are professional and have your best interests at heart.

Will in-house options improve your customer service? If your in-house delivery solution can improve your reliability and cut down on delivery times it may be worth considering.

Other customer service issues include keeping customers informed, via delivery tracking, and ensuring good proof-of-delivery systems.

What else can you control? You can control the basics on any delivery item. These may seem obvious, but little errors may result in misplaced, late, or damaged items. Correct, clear labelling and correct packaging, including the right protection for fragile goods, is a must.

You can also control what you know about your parcel delivery. Break down all the costs, understand every aspect of the delivery process and what it means to your business. This will give you more control in considering other options which will satisfy your customers and support your business, through Christmas and beyond.