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July 24 2006 03:17 PM

You face it every day: The ever-increasing pressure to move parcels faster, more cost effectively and with greater control. The delivery service provider you choose plays a key role in achieving these three objectives. And determining the best provider for you depends on which of the three objectives speed, savings or control is most important to you.


The largest delivery service providers base their business on guaranteeing time-defined deliveries. Speed is the paramount concern. These express carriers have the network and resources to move packages across the country and worldwide overnight, guaranteed.


Other delivery service providers leverage the U.S. Postal Service to expedite deliveries through either a regional or national model. Regional expeditors require their customers to send them packages within their specific delivery areas. National expeditors work through a national delivery network similar to the larger express carriers. Leveraging an expeditor with a national model is important for midsize or small companies that dont have the size to demand volume pricing from the largest express carriers but still require a sophisticated national shipping strategy.


The Final Mile Makes All the Difference

Expeditors consolidate deliveries by picking up and processing packages from a number of customers then sorting and com-mingling them. This enables their customers to achieve the volume density to qualify for reduced postal rates. All packages are then transported deep into the Postal Service mail stream, very close to their final delivery destinations. (The closer to their final destinations packages are reinserted the greater the discounts.) From there, the Postal Service handles the package, and final delivery is made.


By creating a work-share program that promotes consolidation, the Postal Service is freed of front-end processing and long-haul delivery costs and can focus on local delivery. Large-volume shippers benefit by experiencing delivery times similar to First Class service but at much lower costs.


In addition to delivering the mail downstream, this type of expeditor will evaluate individual mail-pieces and identify postage-savings opportunities for customers. For example, mail sent by companies via First Class oftentimes qualifies as Standard Mail, which delivers at a reduced rate. Additionally, many parcels sent via overnight express qualify for Package Services rates (i.e., Bulk Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail or Parcel Select) through the Postal Service, which offers considerable cost savings.


National Networks Deliver Speed, Savings and Control

A national delivery network provides several key benefits. Perhaps most importantly, customers can trust that deliveries will be on time and accurate. Thats because a national network provides a position of strength that assures reliable, fast transportation lanes. No matter the situation, injecting deliveries into the postal stream at the origination point or the destination point, there are several effective strategies for moving each package.


A national network also provides the market presence an expeditor needs to expand its products and services. Clients can then turn to one expeditor for a single-source solution, increasing the customers efficiency. National networks can handle high volumes. By maximizing service and minimizing cost through consolidation, an expeditor delivers added value for its customers, increasing loyalty and further strengthening its market position. Finally, a national network ensures control. If regional expeditors want to serve a national account, they have to work with competitors in other regions to complete delivery. This reduces security and can create confusion among customers over which company is actually serving them.


Through mergers and acquisitions, expeditors are increasing their network scope. For example, by acquiring Drop Ship Express, SmartMail Services increased its processing facilities and enhanced its ground delivery capabilities. National or regional expeditors there are many factors to consider in selecting the expeditor. Prior to selecting an expeditor, consider requesting a test of their service. With a test period, the network strength and its ability to provide timely service, savings and control can be determined.


10 Attributes to Consider when Selecting an Expeditor

1.         Financial strength. Is the expeditor financially secure?

            You want to make sure that the company will be in business      over the long term.

2.         Strong, consistent leadership team. One symptom of financial weakness is an abrupt change in leadership. Look for a leadership team that is experienced and stable.

3.         Network scope. Does the expeditor cover the country with well-established locations and strategic hubs?

4.         Service flexibility and agility. If the expeditor has a network, does it also have the ability to offer both ground and air delivery services? Does it have a proven track record of consistent service in each?

5.         Easy to do business with. Can you get the products you want, supported by knowledgeable sales professionals? Can you get one invoice to streamline your accounts payable processes?

6.         Product visibility and security. Can you access tracking information at all points in the delivery process? Does the expeditor provide upfront controls to ensure security? Is the expeditors facility designed to be a secure environment (i.e., security cages, cameras)?

7.         Workshare partnership with Postal Service. Can the expeditor deliver to the number of addresses that the Postal Service can...with no extra charges for rural routes?

8.         Reliable data that enhances your performance. Does the expeditor offer the technical sophistication that gives you the data you need delivered in the method you prefer (i.e., multi-customer billing options, online reporting)?

9.         Cost. Can the expeditor save you money at all points in the process?

10. Customer service. Do you have fast access to a responsive, knowledgeable customer service team?


Jim Martel is president and CEO of Smartmail Services. Jim brings over 20 years experience in domestic and global transportation and logistics to SmartMail Services. For more information, visit SmartMail online at