How to send a parcel in Europe
When your first customer has placed an order, you’ve hit an important milestone! Now it’s time to process that order and send the parcel to the customer. But what are the things you have to look out for when you send a parcel to online shoppers?
- Process the order
- Pack the item
- Put the shipping label on the box
- Send and track the parcel
- Send a parcel same-day or next-day
- Send a parcel abroad
How to send a parcel
When you send a parcel, you pay for the parcel delivery, but what about the package? It’s a good idea to buy some cardboard boxes. You can use these to pack the items you sell through your online store. Don’t make the mistake of buying only one set of box sizes. Not only do your products most likely differ in size, but you will also need bigger boxes in case a customer orders bigger quantities.
When you have your cardboard boxes and you have the first online orders coming in, it’s time to combine these two. But what are the correct steps from order to delivery?
Do you want to send packages with DHL, GLS, UPS and specialist carriers? Or use different carriers per country or size or weigth of the package? Sendcloud specializes in logistics software for online stores.
Step 1: Process the order
In your ecommerce software, you will notice that a customer has placed an order. If you don’t have an automated integration with some shipping software or a deal with a fulfilment company, you will have to process that order yourself and ship out the item(s). For this to happen properly, you need to pick the item in your warehouse and print the order.
Step 2: Pack the item
When you have picked the item from your warehouse, you need to pack it for shipping. Grab a box that best suits the size of the item and put the item in. For an optimal delivery experience, fill the box with air cushions, packing peanuts, polystyrene chips or other (eco-friendly) loose fill like sheets of paper.
Don’t forget to put a physical receipt for the order or a packing slip into the box. A packing slip is a record of the transaction. It shows all the items that are included in the shipment order. Packing slips and order receipts are not considered invoices, so if your buyer needs one of those, include the invoice as well.
Step 3: Put the shipping label on the box
On top of the box you put the shipping label. There are dedicated label printers that can print out your shipping label in a handy format and even on adhesive paper. Attach the shipping label to the box and make sure the address and bar code are clearly visible. So don’t cover them with non-transparent tape! And make sure any old bar codes or address are fully crossed out.
For best results during shipping, try putting your label in a clear plastic address pouch. You can also affix the label using clear plastic shipping tape over the entire label area. This way, the address won’t be unreadable for the courier if rain or other watery situations happen.
Step 4: Send the parcel
The last step is to send the parcel. If you only have a few orders per week, the easiest way is to bring your parcel to a postal agency nearby and have them ship the box to the address of your customer. Sending just one parcel is more expensive than sending several parcels per day, because in that case you can get volume discount.
The last step is to send the parcel.
Step 5: Track the parcel
Parcel tracking can be handy for both you and your customer. The customer might want to know where his or her order is and when he or she can expect to have the item(s) delivered. But as an online retailer you might also be interested in parcel tracking. For example, if there’s a disagreement between you and the customer about the delivery. With a parcel tracking solution, you can show the customer your order is on its way. And that you, indeed, started the shipping process. You could also show that the parcel has reached its end destination and that you have done everything on your end to make sure the customer gets his or her order.
Send a parcel same-day or next-day
If you want your customers to have their items as soon as possible, you might consider choosing same-day-delivery or next-day-delivery. If you want to offer next-day-delivery in the best possible manner, but you don’t want to stay up in the middle of the night to process, pick, pack and ship orders, you should go for the same-day-delivery service at your logistics partner. This is why:
The most optimal next-day-delivery experience for your customers, means they can place an order before 23:59 and still have it delivered the very next day. Normally, this would mean you need to stay up to process the order, pick the item from your warehouse, pack the item properly and have it shipped. However, most logistics companies normally pick up parcels in the afternoon and ship them the next day.
You can offer the “order before 23:59 and have the item in house tomorrow” service and still get a good night’s sleep, by choosing same-day-delivery at your logistics partner. If you do that, you can process the order and give the parcel to your delivery company in the morning or even afternoon. The courier will then deliver the parcel to the end customer on the same day.
So basically, your logistics partner offers you same-day-delivery, but you use this to provide your customers with an optimal next-day-delivery service. As a result, all items ordered before 23:59 will get to them on the very next day!
Send a parcel abroad
If you have customers abroad, you might need to send a parcel abroad. That’s no problem, the only thing is this will probably cost you more than a domestic delivery. Also, make sure you know which (local) logistics company will take care of the delivery abroad. Often, this isn’t the same company as the one that ships your item domestically. Also be aware that when your parcel goes beyond the EU borders, customs gets involved. Since 1 January 2021, this includes the United Kingdom! The delivery times can also increase rapidly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about sending a parcel and how to send a parcel (abroad):
How many stamps to send a parcel?
If you want to know how many stamps it takes to send a parcel, you need to go to the website of the logistics company that will send the parcel. Here, you will find all the information about shipping costs. The number of stamps it takes to send a parcel depends on the weight of the package. Logistics companies can also apply extra costs for items that are very large.
Keep in mind that sending boxes that fit through a letterbox is cheaper than sending boxes that oblige the customer to be at home.
An extra tip: some postal agencies ask higher prices for parcels that don’t have a shipping label yet or aren’t registered on their website. For example, PostNL in the Netherlands charges €7.25 for sending a parcel through a PostNL office, but only €6.75 when you address and pay for the delivery online.
How to send a parcel with Hermes?
Sending a parcel with Hermes takes just a few steps. First, they need to know the postcode you are sending from, the postcode you are sending to, and the weight of your parcel. Now they can get you a price. You’ll also need to provide Hermes some information about the contents of your parcel.
Then you can choose the amount of cover (which determines how much Hermes gives you back if your parcel gets lost or damaged) and if you want a guaranteed signature or not. After you’ve given them all the required information, you can choose to drop the parcel at one of the ParcelShops or to have one of the couriers collect it from you.
How to send a parcel by courier?
If you want to know how to send a parcel by courier, you might want to read the text above this FAQ. 😉 Here, we explain every step you need to take to send a parcel via courier. But to sum it all up: pack your item (if needed, fill the box with packaging peanuts), attach the address label on top of the box and bring your box to a courier service or have them pick it up at your place. They will then take care of the rest.
How much to send a parcel to the US?
If you want to send a parcel to the US, the costs for making this happen differ per country. But it also depends on the weight and dimensions of the parcel. A simple parcel – weighing 2 kilograms and measuring 30x30x30 centimeters – might cost you about 40 euros to have it shipped to the US within two or three days. Again, depending on where in Europe you send the parcel from.
Sending a parcel to the US comes with a few rules. For example, it’s prohibited to ship alcohol, tobacco or drugs into the US. And food and drinks must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. On the US Customs website, you will find a list of restricted and prohibited items.
Also, don’t forget you will need a Customs Invoice for your shipment to the US, because all goods go through Customs to be cleared.