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The differences are there — I promise.

difference between courier and postal service

When it comes down to delivery, it can be tricky to know whether you should deliver via a courier service or postal service — and anyways, what’s the difference?

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as flipping a coin and choosing between them; what you’re shipping, how big it is and where it’s going all play a factor in helping you choose the right service depending on your needs.

Naturally, you will be drawn to the cheaper option or the one that provides the better services, which is why I put together this quick guide on the differences between the two and when to choose which one.

But before we dive in, let’s first define what each one really means.

Courier service

What is a Courier Service?

A courier service is a service that allows someone to send packages from one location to another, either domestically or internationally — that simple.

A courier service is generally a publicly owned company advertised as a quick, efficient and cost-effective way to ship your packages. Senders have the option to have their packages collected by a courier or drop them off at a nearby location to be picked up later by the courier.

Typically services include:

  1. Same-Day Delivery
  2. Real-Time Tracking
  3. Bulk Delivery

Types:

  1. FedEx
  2. UPS
  3. USPS

Courier service canada

What is a Postal Service?

A Postal Service is very similar to a courier service but is owned and operated by the nation's government. They are used and function in the same way a courier service does.

Typically services include:

  1. Reliable Delivery
  2. Time Frame Delivery
  3. Bespoke Services

Types:

Since we’re in Canada, Canada Post!

How and when to use a Courier Service?

A courier service provides fast and reliable delivery on your shipments but at a premium.

It would be best if you took care to use this service when you need extra attention on your package's shipment(s). Since courier services are privately owned, they come with the added guarantee of excellent customer service, optimized shipping, and real-time tracking/analytics.

Example: If you’re looking to have a holistic approach to your shipping and fulfillment needs, definitely consider a courier service. They can provide you with added protection to store your inventory, expertise to deliver your packages and the knowledge to make the whole operation run smoothly.

How and when to use a Postal Service?

A postal service provides reliable and affordable shipment of your packages, accessible by both the public and private sectors, but at the cost of uncertainty. Because of the scale of postal services, packages are more often to get lost or damaged en route and could take longer to deliver. Take care not to use this service if you’re delivering high-value or time-sensitive packages/parcels.

Example: You are handling fragile parcels that need a whiteglove touch to it, don’t use a postal service for that, instead checkout a private courier service as they have the proper technology and infrastructure in place to help get your package where it needs to go, safely.

Main differences between a Courier Service and a Postal Service

When it comes down to it, what's important to pay attention to are the methods of delivery between the two services.

Of course, it’s also important to remember that many factors contribute to shipping and no two courier services are alike either; it really comes down to your research and your needs.

That being said, here is a general list of factors that differentiate the two services:

  1. Cost
    Regardless of which option you choose, price matters.
    Factor in your package's dimensions and weight(s) when shipping to get a rough idea of pricing, or get an instant quote from a courier, to figure out shipping fees.
  2. Delivery Time
    2021 saw a massive boom in the online retailer industry, with an unprecedented number of consumers shopping online. This, of course, meant that companies had to adapt, and consumer shopping behaviour changed with it. Now customers were expecting to have their favourite brands ship their purchased products instantly, similar to how Amazon does it — but naturally, not every company was ready for that scale of shipping. So make sure that your choice of shipping service factors in the expectation of delivery time from your customers because that can make-or-break a customer from becoming a loyal brand advocate.
  3. Reputation
    Ensure you partner with the right shipping company when you start delivering your packages — trust is a major factor. This also means that you must be careful in working with a carrier that isn’t trustworthy because you run the risk of losing a package, or delivering damaged ones, more often. Important note, if you’re looking to return ship, make sure that your choice of carrier can accommodate that.
  4. Scale
    If you’re still a relatively small company, shipping less than 50 packages a month, going with a reliable and relatively affordable postal service is satisfactory. However, once your business scales, you need the leverage and expertise of a courier service to help get the right packages on time to your customers' doors. 

How can eShipper help?

eShipper is a complete end-to-end shipping service for Canadian businesses of all sizes. We offer courier, LTL, freight shipping, warehousing, pick & pack services, and technology to enhance a customer’s brand and scale their growth. eShipper integrates with major online stores and marketplaces to create a faster and more seamless shipping experience and enables businesses to manage all their orders in one place. For more information, please visit www.eshipper.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

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