Lifestyle what? I hear you say. Lifestyle couriers are the newest addition to the UK’s parcel delivery network. Simply put, they are non-professionals who use their car and spare time to make some extra cash delivering parcels around their neighbourhoods.
With the rise of internet shopping, the need for delivery services has gone through the roof, the parcel industry is now worth £4.4bn in the UK alone. While consumers can now order clothes, shoes, books, electronics and household items directly from retailers’ websites or auction sites such as eBay, the convenience of home delivery is now becoming the norm.
Traditionally, courier companies with fleets of vans would secure contracts to make these deliveries, but a growing number of these deliveries are now being outsourced to “lifestyle couriers”. Dropping off parcels in their local areas a few hours a week or more, they can use their own vehicle so have less overheads than the full-time professional delivery drivers and don’t have to pay out for very costly haulage or courier insurance. Although the legality of this is somewhat of a grey area.
Though lifestyle couriers have become popular in the retail side of the parcel market, they are yet to make a dent in the business-to-business sector. Do lifestyle couriers have a chance at making an impression in this lucrative market?
It seems unlikely. One of the main benefits for the lifestyle courier is that they can deliver parcels at times that suit them, usually to fit around other jobs and commitments. This means a lot of these deliveries will be made at evenings and weekends or fitted in around school runs and the like. The business sector same day courier industry is far more demanding with missed deadlines potentially costing hundreds of thousands of pound and more! It is unlikely that a large building contractor will be too understanding when that multi million pound tender fails to get it’s destination on time because “Charlie had to be dropped off at school” first!
It is this casual nature of lifestyle couriers that limits their business-to-business potential. Businesses usually need urgent courier services, professional same day courier companies that can guarantee them the speed and reliability a lifestyle courier can’t. The retail delivery sector is a lot more forgiving than the commercial.
Another reason lifestyle couriers are not suited to the business-to-business market is their lack of expertise. A same day courier company will usually have a range of vehicles that can accommodate loads of many shapes and sizes from very large to very small. Businesses such as those in the scientific or medical industry, need to transport goods of a very sensitive and even sometimes hazardous nature. These need to be delivered with speed and care and by those with the appropriate experience and qualifications to do so, not to mention the correct insurance cover. This can only be offered by a professional, specialist, same day courier service.