Who are the best UK couriers? A roundup

There’s an incredible amount of couriers in the UK and knowing which to go for can be tricky. You want to be able to offer the best service possible for your customers whilst at the same time not having to spend a ton of money on shipping or having to charge your customers for the same. On top of that there’s a level of trust, word of mouth and personal experience involved when choosing which company to go for. We’ve put together a list of who the top companies are and how they rank based on usage to help you make your decision below. Although the companies we mention are highly reputable, there is never a guarantee that a parcel you send won’t arrive damaged, be stolen or just go missing, so whilst choosing the correct supplier is one aspect, it’s also important to make sure your deliveries are covered by insurance, offcourse cover offer goods in transit insurance to cover all of these instances, make sure to check out the website. The top couriers in the UK in order of popularity

1.Royal Mail

Royal Mail is a British company established in the 1500’s, so with it’s incredible longevity it's no wonder that it comes top of the list. Out of the top 100 UK retailers 34 offer Royal Mail as a delivery option, allowing the company to continuously employ over 160,000 staff and turn over £10.4 billion in 2019. Royal Mail offers express delivery in the form of its ‘Royal Mail Special Delivery’ which guarantees to deliver packages the next day domestically. Royal Mail offers 23,000 parcel shops which is great for a pick-up option however, they do not offer a CO2 Neutral option which could put off customers. Though they are mainly UK they do have good options for export. 2.Hermes Founded in Hamburg, Germany in the 70’s, Hermes is the second most popular option for the top 100 UK retailers but also tops the list as the most popular courier option for the top 100 UK online retailers. In 2019 they turned over approximately $3.7 billion and hire roughly 15000 staff.

Hermes offers both next day and nominated day deliveries, which is super handy for your customers. They are also eco aware with a goal to be emission free by 2025 whilst currently owning a fleet of 1500 electric cars, which is a positive. They have over 40,000 European pick up points, 4,500 of which are located in the UK. Hermes is a great option for exporting as they offer country-specific delivery to 20 European countries. 3.DPD Founded in France in 1999, DPD offers delivery globally, despite their focus being on Europe. Coming in third as the most popular delivery option in the UK, this delivery giant hires around 77,000 staff and has a turnover of roughly $8.9 billion. DPD does offer next day delivery options for those of use who just don’t want to wait. Plus they are eco-friendly, offsetting 100% of their carbon emission by purchasing carbon credit. They are in the top 3 in the CEP (Courier, Express, Parcel) industry in voluntarily doing so and account for 3% of the total voluntary offset market in Europe. Which is great for you eco warriors out there. DPD has 2,500 pick up points in the UK and 22,000 Europe wide, they do deliver globally but have a strong European focus. 4.Parcelforce Some of you may not know but Parcelforce is a trading name of The Royal Mail, established in 1992, Parcelforce delivers worldwide. For European deliveries the company often partners up with another Royal Mail brand, GLS. The company employs roughly 4,500 staff and is used by 6 of the top 100 UK online retailers. Parcelforce offers express deliveries for both domestic and international shipping making it a good choice for exporting goods. Whilst Parcelforce itself does not mention carbon neutrality, GLS offers climate neutral shipping options in certain countries including Germany. Parcelforce’s main focus is deliveries within Europe. 5.DHL DHL is a division of the world’s largest logistics company Deutsche Post DHL. Founded in 1969, DHL employs roughly 520,000 people and turned over $4.05 billion on e-commerce solutions in 2019. DHL sits in the top 5 for both, the most popular shipping service company in the UK, and the most commonly used by the UK’s top 100 retailers. DHL’s express product has a strong focus on next day delivery and they offer a range of environmentally friendly solutions. Including emission offsetting possibilities and circular economy solutions, DHL aims to be emission free by 2050. DHL is a fantastic option for those looking to ship internationally as they ship to 220 countries and even regions like North Korea. 6.Yodel Privately owned by the Barclay brothers, Yodel is a British company founded in 2008 and acquired the B2C operations from DHL Express UK in 2010. The company employs roughly 4,500 people and has a turnover of approximately $500 million per annum. It sits at sixth place in the UK’s most popular delivery providers. Yodel offers quick next day delivery via it’s product Yodel Xpress, however, the company doesn’t offer any carbon neutral options. You can ship parcels across Europe within 3-5 days via Yodel and internationally within 6-10 days.

7. UPS UPS is an american company with their HQ based in Atlanta. Founded in 1907, the company employs 500,000 people worldwide and generated $13 billion in revenue last year alone. UPS sits at seventh most popular parcel courier service in the UK. UPS’s main focus is still within the US but they do offer next day delivery options via their UPS Worldwide Express Plus and UPS Worldwide Express Shipping services and it’s entirely possible to send within Europe using their service. UPS has also partnered with fellow US company GreenBiz to offer more eco-friendly courier solutions, plus they offer carbon neutral shipping in order for parcels to be sent more sustainably.

So there you have it, according to the 2019 study the most popular delivery company in the UK is Royal Mail with over half the respondents choosing this option. Coming in second place is Hermes at 16.1% followed by DPD at 14.2%. Despite Royal Mail being the most popular delivery service in the UK, the most commonly used service is actually Hermes. To put this in perspective, 49 of the 100 largest online retailers provide delivery via Hermes, while just 37 offer Royal Mail as an alternative. Within the most popular category, positions 4 through 6 go to Parcelforce at 4.7%, DHL at 4.1% and Yodel at 3.1%. However, when it comes to being most commonly used by top e-commerce companies in the UK, Yodel actually comes in at fourth place with DHL and Parcelforce following close behind.

At the end of the day, the most important aspect when selecting your courier company is research. You need to consider aspects such as; price efficiency and speed of delivery as this can have a big impact on your customer satisfaction and conversion rate. It’s worth talking to other e-commerce sellers about their experiences and looking at reviews as service can differ from area to area due to uncontrollable variables such as different staff. The key takeaway from all of this is to do your research, test different options and talk to others and we hope you find the best solution for your business. Who do you use to deliver your parcels?

Do you deliver internationally, who have you found best?

Let us know in the comments.

We also have an upcoming blog on what insurance your parcels receive when sending with various couriers, check it out here.

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