An introduction to popular UK couriers

Popular UK couriers for ecommerce businesses

Published in Couriers

A key part of selling online is shipping your products - once you’ve made a sale you then have to ensure that the products safely make their way to customers on time and in perfect condition. If you’re overwhelmed by the choice of couriers and their different shipping services, then take a look at our guide to help you understand which shipping options are most suitable for your business.

There are hundreds of different ways to ship the products you sell online, and deciding which is the best option isn’t easy. If you’re selling high value items then paying a bit extra for tracking and insurance could be worthwhile, whereas if you sell small, low value items then you should be fine using Royal Mail standard 1st Class and 2nd Class.

This introduction to different couriers in the UK will give you an idea of what your shipping options are, and which will be most suited to your online business.

APC

All APC Overnight services are next day tracked, for parcels up to 30kg. APC have a network of local shipping depots, and prices are available by contacting your local depot online or over the phone.

Account/Pay as you go: Account
Maximum size: Weight 30kg,  measurements 1.2m x 0.55m x0.5m
Compensation:  Up to £13/kg with an excess of £50 / increased liability cover available 
Services: 
MailPack - less than 1kg, branded A4 plastic bag, excludes liquids. 
CourierPack - less than 5kg, branded A3 plastic bag, excludes liquids.
Lightweight Parcel - less than 5kg, 1 item, less than .45m x .35m x .2m, excludes liquids
Parcel - less than 30kg, single or multipart consignment, less than 1.2m x 0.55m x 0.5m
International shipping: Yes
Restrictions: https://apc-overnight.com/sending-a-parcel/tcs

DHL

DHL have Service Point drop offs, or you can pay more and book a collection online or over the phone. All of their services are next working day, tracked and require signature on delivery

Account/Pay as you go: both
Maximum size: Drop-off at Service Point - Weight 25kg, Measurements 48.1cm x 40.4cm x 38.9cm. 
Online/Phone - Weight 70kg, Measurements 120 x 80 x 80cm (contact Customer Service for larger and heavier items) 
Compensation: $12 per kg. (Section 6. DHL's Liability) 
Services: 
Drop off at DHL Service Point
Book Collection Online
Book Collection on Phone
International shipping: Yes
Prohibited items: http://parcel.dhl.co.uk/what-you-can-and-cant-send

DPD

DPD is all about communication and convenience; they give you an hour time slot for collection, and then let the recipients know by text or email that their order has been dispatched, and give them an hour delivery slot. Recipients can track the progress of parcels online and re-arrange delivery to their neighbour, a safe place or a DPD pickup shop. 

Account/Pay as you go: Account
Maximum size: Weight 31.5kg, Length 1.75m, Girth (circumference + length) 3m. 
Compensation: Up to £100 per ExpressPak (up to 5kg) or parcel (1-30kg). (Section 10 - Limitation and exclusion of liability)
Services: 
DPD Two Day
DPD Next Day
DPD 12:00
DPD 10:30
International shipping: Yes
Restricted items: http://www.dpd.co.uk/content/products_services/shipping_advice.jsp

MyHermes

MyHermes offer courier collection or drop off at a local ParcelShop, and aims to deliver within three working days. You can add the recipient's email address when buying MyHermes shipping, and tracking details will be emailed directly to them. MyHermes will attempt to deliver parcels three times. Standard MyHermes deliveries are not signed for, but you can add it on for £1 per parcel.

Account/Pay as you go: Account
Maximum size: Weight 15kg, Length 120cm, total dimensions 225cm2. 
Compensation: Up to £25, pay for more. 
Services: 
Drop Off at a ParcelShop - 2 working days 
Courier collection - 3 working days 
International shipping: Yes
Excluded and prohibited items: https://www.myhermes.co.uk/RWD/help/carry-guide.html#helppage

Parcelforce

ParcelForce is part of Royal Mail and deal with larger parcels, as well as offering courier services. You can either access their services via their own website, or by using the Post Office. Using ParcelForce you can arrange collection, drop off at a Post Office of a depot. All of their services are tracked and require an electronic signature on delivery. ParcelForce also offer a 25% refund of delivery cost if the parcel doesn’t arrive on time. Saturday delivery is available for an extra £7.50.

Account/Pay as you go: Both
Maximum size: Weight 30kg, Length 2.5m, maximum combined length + girth = 5m (only available with Express 48 large) 
Compensation: Up to £100/£200 loss and damage, pay for more. 
Services: 
Express 48 - 2 day guaranteed, £100 cover
Express 24 - 1 day delivery, £100 cover 
ExpressAM - 12 noon next working day, £200 cover
Express 10  - by 10 am next day, £200 cover
Express 9 - by 9am next working day, £200 cover
International shipping: Yes 
Prohibited and restricted items: http://www.parcelforce.com/help-and-advice/sending/prohibitions-and-restrictions

Royal Mail

Account/Pay as you go: Both
Maximum size: Weight 20kg, Measurements 61cm x 46cm x 46cm. 
Compensation:  Special Delivery Guaranteed by 9am up to £50, Special Delivery by 1pm up to £500. Royal Mail Sameday up to £20,000 
Services available: 
Tracked 24
Tracked 48
Special Delivery Guaranteed 9am/1pm
Sameday
International shipping: Yes
Restricted goods: http://www.royalmail.com/business/help/sending/restricted-goods
Prohibited goods: http://www.royalmail.com/business/help/sending/prohibited-goods

TNT

All TNT services are collection, which can be between 9am and 5.30pm.

Account/Pay as you go: Both
Maximum size: Not pallet 70kg, pallet 500kg. Measurements 1.5m x 1.5m x 1.5m. 
Compensation: up to £50. (under The Limitation on the Amount of our Liability, 6.7) 
Services:
UK Next Day - 1-2 working days
UK Next Day by 12pm 
UK Next Day by 10am
UK Next Day by 9am
International shipping: Yes
Prohibited and restricted items: https://direct.tnt.co.uk/company/prohibited-and-restricted-items

UPS

The cheapest UPS option is to drop off your parcel at one of their UPS Access Points and have it delivered to another Access Point, for a slightly higher price UPS offer collection and delivery.

Acccount/Pay as you go: Both
Maximum size: Door to door - Weight 32kg, Length 2.7m, Length + Girth 3.3m. 
Access Point to door, or to Access Point - Weight 20kg, Length 0.8m, Length + Girth 2.2m.

Compensation: up to £50, pay for more.  
Services:
UPS Standard - end of next working day
UPS Express Saver - deliver by 12 next working day
UPS Express - by 10.30 am next working day
UPS Express Plus -  by 9am next working day
International shipping: Yes
Prohibited items:  
https://www.ups.com/content/gb/en/resources/ship/prohibited_articles.html

Yodel

Yodel offer collections, which can be booked between 8am and 6pm, next day delivery or two day delivery and online tracking.

Account/Pay as you go: Both
Maximum size: Weight 25kg, length 120cm, volume 0.17m3
Compensation: Up to £20 but can pay for more.
Services available:
XpressPack 24,
Yodel 24,
XpressPack 48,
Yodel 48,
Yodel Highlands & Islands,
Yodel Northern Ireland
International shipping: Yes 
Prohibited and restricted items: http://www.yodel.co.uk/prohibited-and-restricted-items/ 

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About the author

Verity is a journalist and content producer at Zenstores.

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