Person delivering brown box package

Freight solution to customers

by Angus Jones
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Sending a parcel to someone seems like such a simple thing.  You pop an item in a bag and you take it to the post office and you have a happy customer when it arrives. If you are looking for the right freight solution then this guide will explain what you need to know and what options are available for you to facilitate the shipping of your goods.

Logistics (or Shipping) is the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers. It is also the detailed organisation and implementation of a complex operation.

WHY do I need to deliver my goods?

If you have goods to supply you can have a customer pick-up or have it delivered.  You want to increase your customer base to your immediate area, offer greater convenience or simply you do not want to offer a retail sale in a store you will need to offer delivery options.  If you want to deliver you will need to select a freight solution.

WHAT do I need to know about shipping?

Let us make the assumption that you are not after a courier and that over a year you will have the need to deliver many parcels. 

Your choices are:
  1. Deliver them yourself or by an employee
    1. If local could be a cheaper option but ties up your or your employees time.
  2. Use Australia Post
    1. Economical but you might have to take parcels to a post office
  3. Use a specialised freight company
    1. Will pick up from your location
    1. Some even offer cheaper rates than Australia Post, with door-to-door delivery in a shorter time. Note however their service may not cover remote areas.

You need to package your goods. No good if they arrive broken.  Thus, special care should be taken to ensure items are packed carefully and you select the appropriate size packaging for protection and economical shipping.  A big box for a small item means you will pay to move air.

Specialised packaging might need to be considered to simplify shipping or protect the goods, like a padded bag which is fast to pack or a shipping tube for artwork. 

Time is money and in this case the faster you want something to arrive the higher the cost will be.  Thus the same day, airfreight, overnight, and even delivery at a specific time will cost you more.  Some perishable items might require fast delivery.

Dangerous and prohibited goods may be banned or require special attention when shipping. This includes if an aircraft will be used.  You should check with your freight company. The Australia Post list can be seen here. https://auspost.com.au/content/dam/auspost_corp/media/documents/dangerous-and-prohibited-goods-guide.pdf

HOW should I choose a freight solution company?

Cost– If you are starting off it is hard to estimate what your volumes will be but most freight companies including Australia Post will give you a contracted rate based on expected volumes. There will be sliding scales depending on distance so make sure you compare like for like.  Also understand the delivery class of each, one might be overnight the other 4-5 days.

Tracking – Everyone offers to track these days but not all in the same way.  Understand what tracking is available and how quickly it is updated and at what points in the process  i.e notification only when picked up and delivered vs  multiple notifications on route such as picked up, at a warehouse, in a van, and delivered.

Estimated delivery time – Not all companies use their own trucks and might rely on others.  What you care about is how long they estimate delivery.  Fast delivery equals happy customers especially if they have not paid a premium for that service.

Pick-up– Will your freight company come to you or are you required to drop everything at a depot or post office.  This is likely to have an effect on the price.

Signature on delivery – Valuable items such as currency, jewels, or important documents may require a proof of delivery in the form of a name, signature, or photo.

Insurance – Most freight companies provide a minimal amount of insurance and if items are lost in certain conditions you can make a claim.  For example, Australia Post may compensate you up to $100 for lost or damaged items. You should take note of what is covered for how much and in what circumstances.  You may also wish to understand the costs of additional insurance if needed.

Integration – If you can integrate your e-commerce store or POS solution with your freight company you can eliminate a bunch of administrative work around labeling and booking saving you time.

Phone support – What hours and support can the freight company provide to you.  If you have a lost package at  6pm on a friday can you get help finding it?

HINT

Don’t underestimate the time it takes to pack an item ready for shipping, organise the transport, and attach the labels.  It all adds up.

Freight companies charge by both volume (dimensions added up) and weight.  If you have a light bulky item you will pay based on the volume.  If you have a tiny heavy item you will be charged by the weight.

These two websites do a comparison of freight charges as a one-off and may be useful to help you decide which freight companies to contact to ask for contracted rates.
https://www.comparecouriers.com.au/
https://www.parcel2courier.com/

SUMMARY – a Freight solution is a cost and a customer service

Offering delivery of your goods can increase your customer sales.  These customers must be kept happy and have a good experience in a timely manner.  Importantly, keeping your freight solution costs lower will increase your profit.  Pick the right freight company for your needs today then review your decision at least every 2 years.

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