Setting up a delivery service - checklist

A smart young man delivers a parcel.

If you offer delivery of your goods, you must ensure the service is reliable and secure. Your delivery service can also differentiate you from competitors. What do you need to think about when setting it up?

  • Can you deliver the goods yourself? If your customers are all local, they might appreciate a same-day delivery service. A branded vehicle can also act as a mobile advertisement for your local business.
  • If you outsource your deliveries, match your courier to your business needs. Delivery companies range from large operators to local firms and may offer different levels of service. Think about whether you will need extras such as 24-hour delivery, designated delivery time slots or international carriage.
  • Differentiate yourself from competitors. Do your rivals offer evening delivery or free delivery for second items? Think about what you can do to stand out and make your service more attractive.
  • Offer a range of convenient options. Your customers might expect to be able to choose how, where and when to receive their goods. Higher value products will probably require a signature, for example, and customers may expect heavy goods to be put in situ by the courier.
  • Consider your charging policy. You could offer free delivery as standard with a charge for a premium service, or a flat rate regardless of the number of items to encourage more sales.
  • Allow customers to track orders in progress, particularly with urgent or expensive items. The customer feels more in control of their purchase and any problems with deliveries are likely to be picked up quickly.
  • Pick a courier with a satisfactory doorstep policy. What does your courier do if they are unable to deliver? Do they try once, then leave the package at a warehouse for collection? Are they happy to deliver to an alternative address? Communicate this doorstep policy to customers.
  • Set up a clear, customer-friendly returns procedure. While some businesses do charge fees for returning items, offering a free return service will inspire confidence and perhaps even boost your sales.
  • Advertise your delivery service prominently on sales collateral and your website. Being clear about pricing and returns will also help to avoid post-transaction misunderstandings.
  • Think about packaging. It is important to protect goods during transit and ensure they arrive in good condition. Don't overwrap, though - your customer must be able to get at the goods without damaging them by struggling with packaging.
  • Minimise packaging and consider using recyclable packaging and biodegradable tapes. Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental effects of using unnecessary or bulky packaging.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.