As a multi-carrier platform, we see tens of thousands of packages passing through our platform every day. And we are in daily contact with dealers where the shipping does not always work perfectly, i.e. either the pickup does not work or the delivery does not work. This prompts me today to write down how the situation is with parcel services in Germany. To give some food for thought, what you have to consider as a sender, you want to get your parcels to your customers fast and reliable.

Here’s a recurring example: A small online retailer with 5 parcels a day has his shipping point idyllically located in the countryside, 20 kilometres away from the next posting point of any parcel service. Of course he has the claim that his online customers will have their goods in their hands the next working day. And, of course, the customer should not pay anything for shipping. This cost pressure plus the “German spar fox mentality” then leads the retailer to choose the cheapest shipper for his shipment. However, this retailer is then regularly furious that the collection of his 5 parcels does not take place relatively often. The parcel service is then of course to blame, as it does not do its damn job properly.

But if you take a look behind the scenes, this is the case for the parcel service, “which is not doing its damn job properly”: He employs a subcontractor, one of the poorest souls in this country, who has to bring his own car including petrol and work clothes and pays him an incredible 1 € per parcel. That’s certainly not much, but in a city centre location with 20-30 parcels per hour, it’s probably still kind of ok. But in the example above the driver has to drive 20 kilometres there and back to pick up 5 packages. If one calculates with travel costs of 0,50 € per kilometre, one already gets out with 20 € for the arrival and departure. And this only for the drivable vehicle. A remuneration for the driver is not in there yet.

Because they know what they are doing

Any primary school pupil can calculate that such a trip is financially highly unattractive for the driver. So he tries to minimize his loss and simply does not go there. The parcel service should now actually “step on the driver’s feet”. But he doesn’t, firstly because he finds only a few people anyway who would do the job for such a lousy payment and secondly because he knows exactly what the situation is like for the driver.

As a dealer, I can now of course take the position, “I don’t care, I’m paying a cheap package price, so I expect perfect performance” and stamp my feet hard. However, it would be smarter to think about the matter and consider what is more important to me as a dealer. Satisfied customers who get their order delivered reliably and quickly or a 50 cent saving on the package price. What does an unsatisfied customer cost me compared to a higher package price?

There are parcel services that do not employ subcontractors, but a fleet of employed drivers with collective agreement and cars. These parcel services reach even the furthest corners of the country with a very high reliability. They can pay for this with generally higher parcel prices.

So, dear dealers, think about what is important to you when shipping – cheap can also be expensive.