The Best Shipping Providers in India for e-commerce start-ups
Starting an e-commerce venture might have been you dream for quite some time. You came up with an idea, built a good website, tied up with suppliers and did all the mundane things that go along with entrepreneurship. After all that hard work, you have got your first order. Even the money is in the bank, with the customer paying you in advance. Now all you have to do is to reach the product to the customer. The right product to the right customer, at the right time and place.
It is easier said than done in a vast and varied nation such as India. The logistics industry in the country is still in its nascent phase. At the same time, studies show that online customers value fast delivery, order tracking and free shipping over other factors while selecting a site to buy their product from. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and if proper care is not taken in identifying your logistics partner, it could practically break your e-commerce venture.
E-commerce players have tried out different methods to fulfil the expectations of their customers. Some rely on courier companies, while others go for specialist third-party logistics providers, who provide a wider range of supply chain services. Some others even handle the logistics in-house – they setup their own network in big cities and rely on logistic companies to service orders from the rural areas.
The global giants in the logistic business such as FedEx and DHL have good coverage throughout the country and are also quite efficient. But then they come at a price. One that is often beyond the reach of the start-ups. Logistic companies offer rates based on the number of orders a firm can commit. Many of them also have a minimum order commitment too.
The big firms such as Flipkart and Snapdeal can assure them huge volumes, bargain for rock-bottom rates, and tempt customers with offers such as free shipping. Start-ups are no match for them in that game. Hence they are at a definite disadvantage as most of the customers who buy online do so because the cost is lesser.
All is not lost though. Today there are many cost effective logistics options for e-commerce start-ups in the country. We take a look at some of them here.
Aramex is an upcoming international logistics player that operates in India too. Its shipping rates are among the cheapest in the country. Aramex ships to 2,253 locations in India, and could be the preferred partner for start-ups that target metros, big cities and towns and local delivery. Aramex has offices in 60 countries across the world and offers huge savings in shipping costs to these nations.
India Post is another economical option for start-ups to ship their products. With its 154,866 post offices – the vast majority of which are located in the Indian countryside – India Post has a network that is unmatched in the country. But it comes with its share of problems too, such as poor service and improper handling that could damage the products.
Ecom Express focuses exclusively on the needs of e-commerce industry. It has operations in 1,008 pin-code locations in the country and is a low cost shipping option for start-ups. Ecom Express also provides a range of services such as same day delivery, reverse logistics and personalised delivery that could be very useful for e-commerce start-ups.
Delhivery is another logistics player that caters just to e-commerce firms. Its suite of services helps retailers provide their customers a seamless experience by integrating in-store, website, social media, mobile and voice channels. It has offices in 175 cities in the country, through which it ships products to 2,514 pin-code locations in India.
Bluedart is one of the premier courier and integrated air express package distribution companies in India. It has a large domestic network covering 34,267 locations. Blue Dart is a group company of the global logistics giant, DHL, through which it offers its services to 220 countries across the world. Blue dart offers impeccable service, but it is a tad expensive when the volumes are low.
FedEx is one of the most trusted logistics players in the country. It ships to 220 countries across the world and should be the first choice of small businesses that want to sell their products abroad. It has plans that suit a variety of customers, and offers a range of services to choose from. FedEx offers overnight delivery of consignments within India at a reasonable cost. But shipping through FedEx to locations that are out of its delivery area could burn a hole in your pocket.
Another shipping service that has a pan-India presence is First Flight Couriers. The company serves over 6,700 pin-code destinations across India. It also has international operations, and serves 220 countries through its partners. It’s services are on the expensive side though.
DTDC Express Limited
DTDC Express Limited that extends its services to over 10,000 pin codes is another serious logistics player in India. The company aims to be the partner of choice for B2C businesses with focus on tier II, III and IV markets. The company also has a significant global footprint and provides its services in 220 international locations. But its services are expensive when compared to the other players in the industry.
All these players have their own strengths and weaknesses. A provider might be strong in some areas, but may not be so in others. Apart from cost, the coverage provided by the logistics providers, the services they provide and the efficiency also matters. So the e-commerce firms might have to partner more than one logistics player to meet their needs.
Logistics aggregators such as ShipRocket that provide a solution to such issues have started operations in the country. They enter into partnerships with several small start-ups to aggregate their orders and build up volumes. At the other end, they partner with several logistics companies to serve a wide variety of regions. The start-ups thus have the choice of shipping their products through many logistics providers at a considerably lesser cost. They are also relieved from the burden of assuring a minimum order size.
Their software can also be integrated with many of the e-commerce packages, allowing the vendors to automate many of the processes associated with shipping such as assigning an AWB number, scheduling pickup and viewing the shipping status. They also provide facilities such as Cash on Delivery and handling of returns.