Overview of Shipping Companies in India for eCommerce
Shipping companies are the backbone of the eCommerce industry, providing logistics services and supply chain solutions for every type of business engaged in retail. Without shipping companies, online businesses would have no way of operating their businesses successfully and catering to customers all over the country and the world. Shipping companies handle end-to-end delivery for e-commerce retailers by providing a variety of solutions. Many shipping partners offer their enterprise customers a wide variety of services to enable them to serve over 100 million online shoppers.
The most important of these functions are warehousing and inventory management, order creation and waybill generation, transportation of orders and in-transit storage, handling delivery exceptions and finally reverse logistics. There are also numerous other services that are encompassed within delivery mechanisms to assure the process is carried out smoothly, like customized packaging and streamlined NDR management. We’ll be discussing which shipping companies can work with your business to provide customers the best delivery experience and how you can determine the ideal shipping partners.
List of Top 10 Best Shipping Companies and Partners in India for e-Commerce Businesses
There are over 150+ shipping companies that eCommerce businesses can partner within India. This can make selecting the right shipping partner a difficult task. While there are specific criteria that need to be used to determine the perfect shipping companies, it always helps to narrow down the list. Taking into account reviews and opinions from supply chain experts, we’ve created a list of the top 10 shipping companies in India.
#1)Aramex Shipping Company
Aramex is a shipping company that started in the UAE and was acquired in India by Delhivery. Aramex provides shipping services in 220+ countries across the globe. In fact, for both domestic and international orders, this shipping company provides express delivery services. It also provides e-commerce businesses value-added delivery services like COD handling, co-packing and order bundling.
#2)Blue Dart Shipping Partner
Blue Dart serves 35,000+ pin codes within India and 220+ countries across the globe. Blue Dart has been operating for over 4 decades and has a large employee base of highly trained personnel that help provides customs clearances. Ecommerce businesses can give their customers flexible delivery options, like express delivery, time-based delivery, and overnight delivery. It also provides e-tailers with services to improve efficiency, like automated proof-of-delivery, and weather-resistant packaging.
#3)Delhivery Shipping Service Provider
Delhivery is an India-based company that started operating in 2011 and has since grown to one of the most popular shipping companies. With 10,000 customers, 75% of whom are major eCommerce businesses, the Delhivery shipping partner is known for its affordability. Express delivery, same-day delivery and next-day delivery are also among its major services. It serves 17,500+ pin codes, and handles specialized goods like high-value orders, heavyweight orders and dangerous items.
#4)DTDC eCommerce Shipping Partner
DTDC is an India-based shipping company that has been in operation since 1990. It serves over 9000+ pin codes across India and 240+ countries across the globe. DTDC is a big favorite for ecommerce enterprises as its fleet of vehicles is GPS enabled to ensure customers are kept informed about the status of their orders. To keep customers truly satisfied, additional shipping services offered by DTDC are express delivery, customized packaging and priority delivery.
#5)Ecom Express Shipping Company
Ecom Express is another big favorite for eCommerce businesses. Ecom Express shipping company provides speedy delivery services, enabled by high-tech solutions, in 27000+ pin codes. The reach of this shipping company spans across 2650+ cities in India. It enables top-notch efficient delivery services with the aid of 36000+ employees, 3000+ facilitation centres and 10 lakh square feet of warehousing space.
#6)FedEx Shipping Firm
FedEx is an international shipping company that has been operating in India for the past 10 years. It serves 19000+ pin codes and 220+ countries across the globe. Because of FedEx shipping company’s stoic past providing international delivery services, its professionals are equipped to handle customs clearances for cross-border shipments. It is equipped to handle products, including high-value shipments, heavyweight and lightweight shipments, and finally hazardous materials like dry ice and lithium batteries.
#7)GATI Company for eCommerce Shipping
Gati is a pioneer shipping company started in India in 1989 and is well known for its strict same-day delivery, which assures eCommerce businesses that orders placed in the morning are guaranteed to be delivered by 9 pm that same day. While GATI shipping company offers warehousing and storage options, it also provides the pickup from vendor warehouses as well. One of the major advantages of this shipping company is the promise of 2-day cash on delivery (COD) remittance.
Safe Express is another among the oldest of India’s shipping companies, with over 2 decades of experience under its belt. It provides delivery services to over 1000+ locations across the country. Using a GPRS-enabled fleet of vehicles, this shipping company aids eCommerce businesses in providing real-time order status updates to their customers. This process also enables businesses to make use of route optimization technology. In keeping with its name, Safe Express also provides secured delivery services which culminate in computerized proof of delivery being communicated to eCommerce businesses in India.
#9)Shadowfax Shipping Services for eCommerce
Shadowfax is a leading shipping partner that provides end-to-end logistics solutions to hundreds of eCommerce enterprises across the country. Shadowfax was started in 2015 with the goal of providing every variety of retailer and e-tailer a chance to provide speedy delivery, using its express delivery, hyperlocal delivery, SDD and NDD. These delivery services are available in 10,000+ pin codes across 500+ cities.
Like Shadowfax, XpressBees began its journey in 2015 and makes use of 30000+ well-trained professionals to provide end-to-end logistics solutions both domestically & internationally. These employees operate through 100+ hub & dispatch centres and 2,800+ offices to serve 13000+ pin codes all across the country. XpressBees is revered for its warehousing services.
How to Choose the Best Shipping Partner or Company in India for Your eCommerce Business?
As discussed in the earlier sections, shipping partners are a wide and varied bunch. All have the same basic function, i.e., providing fast and efficient delivery of orders. However, within this function, there are numerous factors that come into play and numerous added services that could improve customer experience radically. While there are as many as 15 parameters which e-commerce companies use to determine the optimum shipping partner for them, we will discuss the 4 most commonly used ones here: Pricing, SLA, Visibility, and Reach.
This would probably seem like the most obvious. The cheapest price means the least amount of expense on shipping for you, right? Wrong. While low shipping rates are always great, any good salesman knows to always look at the fine print. Different logistics companies in India offer different payment options, long-term contracts, monthly plans, or per-shipment charges.
Overall pricing is largely based on the average weight and size of shipments. However, it’s important to keep in mind that additional charges and hidden costs can pop up. This can really pile up if the specific services you require, like COD coverage or a particular kind of packaging, are not included in the original rates. So always consider your defined needs when determining the ideal shipping prices.
2)Service Level Agreements (SLA)
Every relationship with a courier partner is based upon certain terms and conditions usually encompassed within an SLA (Service Level Agreement). There may be specialized services included in this contract but the base terms that have to be agreed upon are pricing (discussed above) and delivery speed.
Delivery speed is a major indicator of a courier partner's performance. It can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction and your company’s reputation. The preferences of customers can vary depending on the industry.
Your customers may have a preference for hyperlocal, same-day delivery (SDD) or next-day delivery (NDD). A 2019 study showed that speed along with the choice of delivery date and time are considered by customers to be important elements of order fulfillment. Beyond delivery speed (and of course shipping rates), there are numerous other major working areas that need to be covered in an SLA.
Beyond pin code reach, you must be aware of when each carrier partner operates and when they may be unable to provide their services. When providing potential delivery dates to customers, you would accordingly have to take into account public holidays and bandhs that may result in delays. These should accordingly be specified in the terms of the SLA.
4)Number of Delivery attempts
Agree in advance about the number of delivery attempts carriers need to make after a delivery exception is reported. Existing data shows that it can take up to 2-5 re-attempts to successfully complete a failed delivery.
Your payment cycle is the time frame within which you will make payments for services rendered by the courier partner. For example, a monthly payment cycle may demand payments be made on the 5th of every month. A one-week relaxation period is provided to complete said payment, following which late-payment fees may be levied on you. Setting a clear payment cycle ensures you avoid random fees and charges being forced upon you.
It’s extremely important to be crystal clear about the goal you want to achieve in terms of the volume of shipments because carriers are the ones that let you reach those goals. Specify an average sum of shipments that must be completed within each week and quarter in order for a carrier to meet its quota. As your relationship with your carrier grows, these terms can also include goals for reduction of RTO% or stuck shipments, as per your needs.
There may be situations where customers make payments directly to the carriers after receiving the orders, like in the case of COD orders. The courier partner would then have to transfer that money to you. It’s vital to ensure carriers do so in a timely manner as money in the bank is the lifeblood of any e-commerce business. Make sure the shipping partner you’ve selected has a clear remittance cycle, i.e., a time frame for reverting order payments back to you, and that the said cycle is viable for your operational needs. Otherwise, you may find yourself hounding a carrier to give you your money.
8)Packaging and Handling Fees
Couriers are usually equipped to provide packaging and shipping labels, often customized if there is a need for the same. However, some may add costs to the final bill for things like packaging, customizing labels and even handling of certain orders like fragile items and cash on delivery orders. Specify when and how packaging and handling fees can be levied to ensure your overall shipping rate isn’t suddenly double what you expected.
Most courier partners offer a variety of value-added services, like COD services, customized packaging, temperature-controlled transit, choice of vehicles and many others. Some of these may be vital to your bottom line. For example, a courier partner that offers insurance for orders marked as fragile or of a certain weight and size will ensure you avoid unnecessary losses in case of damage. However, you would need to discern which value-added services you would need regularly and bundle them into your overall shipping costs to get a discount. This also ensures that fees for the same don’t pop up unexpectedly later.
10)COD (Cash on Delivery) reconciliation
COD reconciliation is a very important part of the entire range of COD services (which may also include handling of the item, receiving signatures from customers on receipt, etc). COD reconciliation is a service provided by cash on delivery (COD) courier companies that not only include remittance of payment for COD orders to you but also aids in fixing any mismatched accounts in the books of record. These mismatches can occur with COD orders as the payments for the same can only be accounted for once they have been transferred from the carrier to your company.
Every contract comes with penalties, SLA’s especially. Based on the above terms like remittance cycle and service availability, and many others like if a certain percentage of stuck shipments or fake deliveries, penalties should be specified in the contract. This ensures that you are appropriately compensated for losses caused by carrier breaches. It’s also vital to be aware of the penalties that may be levied on you, for example, in case minimum volume requirements are not met or if there are delays in making payments to the carrier.
By visibility, we essentially mean transparency. Being able to keep an eye on all of your orders is crucial to ensuring your business stays on track.
Online retailers are built on the trust of customers, who typically get anxious when they don’t know where their order is. In order to ensure proper order visibility is maintained, for both you and your customers, your courier partner must have the capability to provide multifunctional tracking updates.
13)eCommerce Shipping API
You would need to integrate with a courier partner’s APIs to perform certain vital functions. These include:
i) Updating the tracking status of orders in your own internal systems
ii) Enabling the use of a branded tracking page for your customers
iii) Sending tracking updates to customers during different stages of delivery.
Good courier partners have both pull and push APIs.
Using Pull APIs (also called the polling method), your systems would be able to 'pull' information on order updates from courier partner systems every hour or every few hours.
Using Push APIs (also called webhooks), courier partner systems would push updates to your internal system every time any order status changes.
Both APIs together ensure a consistent and regular flow of order status updates from the courier partner to your system and accordingly to the customer via tracking page.
14)Courier partner Dashboard
Having access to a courier partner dashboard provides time-based and order-based visibility. It allows you to view orders based on specified parameters, like specific order statuses. This enables you to identify fake deliveries, stuck shipments and other delivery exceptions that may arise frequently and need to be addressed.
15)Dedicated Contact (Email) For Handling Exceptions
The reliable and top courier companies in India for eCommerce shipping must be equipped to handle delivery exceptions. The best way for a carrier to do this is by maintaining a dedicated email address to provide support when exceptions occur. So as soon as a company is notified of a delivery failure, there is a single point of contact to reach out to. This helps ensure the issue is resolved in a timely manner. The alternative is emailing various agents of the carrier and doing multiple follow-ups to determine how to complete the delivery. With more developed tech capabilities, shipping partners can offer real-time tracking until the last mile is complete. Fully integrating with a courier partner will allow customers to view updated status of their order during every stage of delivery from the platform without any hitches.
This is quite possibly the most basic but nonetheless incredibly important criteria to use when selecting a shipping partner. The reach of a courier partner essentially describes the locations and areas they service, within the country and across the globe. It is also referred to as pin code serviceability. In case you need hyperlocal or same-day delivery in a city, town, or more remote area, your courier company must be able to fulfill orders to said locations accordingly.
While these are the major and foremost criteria to be considered, it's also important to keep in mind that unique shipping challenges require unique shipping solutions. There are a variety of value-added services that some courier partners also make available. Some of these are more common e-commerce needs like COD coverage. Others may be industry-specific, such as special handling for temperature-sensitive or fragile items.
Your choice of shipping partner can have a great impact on your customers' delivery experiences. With so many options available for shipping services, making the right choice is a top priority for every business. That’s why it's important to limit your options to the best of the best to reduce time spent sifting through 150+ best shipping companies in India. Once the list is narrowed down, you can review the previous record of each company and find the right fit for you based on your shipping strategy.