Price Comparison for Couriers: ParcelChecker

Mar 19, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Money Saving Tips  //  3 Comments

EDIT: June 2013. The ParcelChecker site now redirects to hauliage firm MyHermes and the calculator is no longer available. The review below is accountable to the period when the tool was active and stands as commendation of the proof-of-concept (price comparison) rather than any logistics company.

The internet has achieved wonders for cost-cutting and money-saving tips. It has also increased the amount of trade conducted online. The UK has now been described as the world’s leading e-commerce economy.

Price competition and the accessibility of information have seen many begin to shop from their desks rather than the high street. Soon, it is estimated, 10% of the UK’s output will be undertaken through the “internet economy”.

This reinforces the growing importance of the logistics industry, for businesses and individuals.

Royal Mail processes 59 million items of post each day, almost 90% of which are sent by UK businesses. New proposals from April 2012 could allow Royal Mail to set its own prices for first-class post, which could have significant cost impacts for many of these customers. So, this is where the internet comes into its own again.

As we might expect, with the level of volume involved, there are existing comparison tools for courier services. Ironically, though, there are few tools designed to deal with volume.

ParcelChecker is useful in this regard.

Targeting small business customers who ship parcels regularly, ParcelChecker is a price comparison tool that allows users to set a parcel weight and quantity to establish which shipping company offers the cheapest rates and the biggest savings. It identifies suitable couriers based on price and delivery time.

Royal Mail becomes the default tariff for search results, with cheaper and more expensive courier services listed either side.

Royal Mail’s precision pricing weight categories do not easily translate into the broader industry standards. To keep them as the basis of the comparison, ParcelChecker sensibly assumes a centralised average (e.g. 1.5kg, 3.5kg), meaning that the savings to be made could be higher in each case.

Rates do not include collection, VAT, or any potential bulk discounts. It may require a little more research to determine the cheapest and most reliable courier. But ParcelChecker offers food for thought, especially with the added power of user review, which the site also enables.

The single weakness of the tool is the failure to measure like-for-like comparisons. Rates from couriers that offer only standard or express delivery – the vast majority – are not compared to Royal Mail’s equivalent standard or express tariff, but rather to a mean average of the two. As such, it’s not perfectly clear what the savings are for exactly the same delivery service. As it is, the comparison will understate the savings to be made through express couriers and overstate the savings to be made by standard couriers.

Undoubtedly, though, ParcelChecker proves that there are potential savings to be made over Royal Mail, which currently delivers over 50 million items of commercial mail each day.

Businesses and individuals that ship regularly will be keen to gain an estimate of how much could be saved on a weekly and annual basis with a view to potentially changing their regular courier.

“Our generation is always looking for a bargain”, a user of the tool told Which4U.

I thought this was interesting in so much as you wouldn’t often think to compare prices for a courier service. Ordinarily I would have just used Royal Mail, but this time I worked out that I could save a really substantial amount of money.

Try the ParcelChecker tool below (enquiry results delivered on external site) and let us know if it makes a difference!

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  • Adam

    Just letting you know it made a huge difference, you now owe me about £15….

  • Express Nordic

    Great article, these kind of websites are growing but it still doesn’t change the cost of fuel, so ultimately that is the deciding cost of parcel deliveries these days, man and van and UPS still have to pay pretty much the same price for diesel.

  • Keith

    Many thanks for the comments. Indeed, it’s a shame that the imminent rise in fuel duty was not addressed in yesterday’s Budget. That is bound to be an inhibiting issue for road-based industries.

    This is just to promote price-competitiveness in the industry, however companies manage their cost / pricing structure, and that can’t be a bad thing. Not all firms can land contracts as lucrative as the Olympics after all.