July 12, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 3 Comments

Shipping Oversized Items to Customers in the UK and EU!

oversized-shipping

Shipping is something I talk quite a lot about on this blog, and for a good reason – it’s one of the most important aspects of selling online!

However most of the posts I’ve written about postage are to do with normal sized and normal weight items that can simply be posted via Royal Mail or a courier like Hermes or DPD.

But today I want to talk about posting oversized items – things that won’t fit into a small box! As actually these large items can be a real goldmine! People often overlook them because they have no idea how to handle shipping, either from China or to the final customer within the UK or Europe.

I’ve decided to finally shed some light on this topic so without any further ado, let’s get started!

Delivering the item yourself

This is an option that most people never even consider, but if the product you sell is very expensive, then you can actually deliver it yourself – provided of course you have the capability to do so (i.e. a van of some sort) and it makes sense financially. You don’t want to spend all your time delivering items if it costs as much in petrol as it would do to pay someone else to deliver them for you!

Also, the viability of this option depends a lot on where you live and where your main customer base is. If you’re based in London and a significant percentage of your customers are from London, then it would certainly make sense to offer personal delivery, at least within a certain radius of where you live.

Please don’t just dismiss this option off-hand without even looking into it properly! There are actually a number of products on eBay where nearly every seller offers delivery via a “man and van” – simply because it’s not possible to send it via other means.

Couriers

Now moving on to a much more conventional option…

Some couriers are still happy to accept shipments of oversized or very heavy items, but the keyword here is “some” and you have to know where to look.

A lot of sellers who simply post everything via Royal Mail, because of its convenience, are under the impression that such items are very difficult and expensive to post.

For example, Royal Mail won’t even accept an item that weighs more than 30kg.

parcels

Royal Mail’s maximum size and weight restrictions are:

  • Up to 30kg
  • Up to 150cm length
  • Up to 300cm combined length + height + width

And to be honest they might as well not bother offering postage for these parcels either, when you see their prices!

royal-mail-prices

With the cheapest option of £44, it’s easy to see why some many eBayers avoid large items like the plague!!!

But anyone who has read my Ultimate Guide to Shipping for eBay Sellers will know that you can often beat Royal Mail’s prices by a huge margin using third party courier booking sites.

Let’s head over to parcel2go.com and see if that still holds true.

I put a weight of 30kg, to match Royal Mail, and sure enough the options I get are significantly cheaper:
parcel-2-go

That’s £14 for a collected next day delivery from UPS! Okay, to be completely fair I should add about £6 for the (extremely excessive) cost to insure the delivery against loss or damage for up to £100, but that still only comes to £20 – less than half of what it would have cost to send via Royal Mail.

And the good news doesn’t stop there, as if you click on the info button you can see that this UPS service has much larger size and weight restrictions than Royal Mail.

The item can be up to 270cm in length and up to 70kg in weight.

Of course the pricing does go up progressively as you increase the weight, but even at 70kg it is still way cheaper than Royal Mail is for 30kg!

ups-prices

Okay so the conclusion is couriers are a great option for these large parcels, but they’re still boxed sized and not something I would really consider “oversized”… for that we need to look at:

Pallet delivery

If you’re delivering something really large, like machinery, furniture, a large consignment of goods etc., then you need a pallet, which is usually broken down in to ¼ pallet, ½ pallet, or full pallet:

pallet-sizes

As you can see, a full pallet can weigh 40 times more than the maximum weight Royal Mail will accept, so we really are talking about large deliveries now.

But if it costs £44 to send 30kg via Royal Mail, then how much does sending a pallet cost?

Well thankfully, though a full pallet weighs 40x more, it certainly doesn’t cost 40x more to send! I want to make this as accurate as possible, so I’m going to get a quote from a few different pallet delivery companies for comparison.

And just so that it’s clear, he’s the delivery I’m quoting for:

  • Full pallet – weighing 1000kg
  • Pallet provided by me (more on that later)
  • Collection postcode: M90 5DL (Manchester)
  • Delivery postcode: W4 5RA (London)

And I’ll be testing random companies found through a Google search for “UK pallet delivery”

ukpalletdelivery.co.uk (a good domain-search match!)

  • Next Day Delivery – £69
  • Economy Delivery (2-4 working days) – £58

palletline.co.uk

  • Economy Delivery – £109

parcelbroker.co.uk

  • Economy Delivery (2-3 working days) – £70

sendapallet.co.uk

  • Standard Delivery – £57

And there you have it! I think we got some very competitive quotes and our winner in terms of price was sendapallet.co.uk (JUST!). Either way, I’m sure those of you unfamiliar with shipping pallets weren’t expecting quotes of less than £60!

However, I want to use our winner to also look at the cost of sending pallets to some countries within Europe, as with these heavy items/machinery you can get a lot of business customers and Europe is a good export destination for such things (for now at least!).

Alright, let’s get to it:

  • Germany – £164
  • France – £154
  • Belgium – £159
  • Italy – £214
  • Austria – £226
  • Spain – £220

It seems to be a fairly small range of between £150-£225 for pallet delivery to Europe.

extra-chargesBut bear in mind that it can change a lot based on the exact delivery postcode, never mind when it’s different cities within the same country, and the deliveries I tested were all to fairly central areas which could have bumped the price up a bit.

Pallet supply

One very important point to remember is that all of these quotes rely on you supplying the pallet. If you require a pallet from sendapallet.co.uk then the price goes up £30, pushing the UK delivery from £57 to £87!

extra-charges

Which option to go for really depends on the quantity you’re sending – if it’s a one off delivery then it’s probably not worthwhile sourcing your own. On the other hand if you’re shipping pallets often then it will of course make sense to get your own as £30 adds a lot to the overall shipping cost.

One thing I would definitely suggest is looking into used/refurbished pallets, as you can save a significant amount on the cost of new ones, without losing any functionality.

You can find wooden pallets from an established seller on eBay for £3 each, though there is a set delivery charge of £60. That means that 25 pallets would work out at £135 – which is a reasonable £5.40 each.

wooden-pallets

There are a lot of pallet recycling companies out there, so if possible you can even find one locally and save on the delivery charges! Plus that means you can pick them up as and when needed and don’t need to hold such large stock.

And speaking of which, when I talk about pallet delivery, then I’m assuming of course that you have suitable premises for this!

It goes without saying that it’s really not the same as a courier collecting a small parcel from your front door… the company needs to be able to pick up the pallet using a forklift and have straight access from there to the truck.

If you’re unsure about any of this, then please get in touch with one of the pallet delivery companies mentioned in today’s post. They’re usually very helpful and will ensure that you can ship a pallet from your premises – as otherwise your collection will be refused on the day and you’ll be left with cancellation fees and more importantly, an unhappy customer!

And I think on that warning, we’ve pretty much come to the end of today’s post.

I hope you’ve found this useful and it’s opened your eyes to the possibilities out there. You don’t have to be constrained by Royal Mail’s size dimensions any longer!

Until next time.

All the best,
Andrew

3 Comments
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  1. John Alldritt

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you and very interesting , as I’ve just been through all this, looking for an alternative to Interlink Direct, for a regular 20kg delivery. We were paying £16.95 for next day, with Interlink, but things have gone terribly wrong, so I started looking for alternatives.
    I went on various carriers websites and found they were charging ridicules prices £30 upwards + VAT. My heart sank!!
    Then I dropped on a couple of these 3rd party sites and the UPS charge through Parcels2go.com was £8.95 + VAT for next day. I was astonished at the difference, almost half of what I was paying at Interlink Direct.
    The only worry I have is, due to the cheap price, are they reliable (do UPS & Parcelforce put Parcels2go.com customers at the back of the queue?) and how do these 3rd party suppliers do it? Do they buy loads of deliveries upfront?

    I find your blogs really interesting Andrew, thanks!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      UPS is very good & reliable, yes.

      I’m not sure exactly how they get that low prices to be honest, would be interested to know this too 🙂

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      1. Be careful with Parcel2Go’s sometimes restricted dimensions. Also, previously the did not include cover as standard and wanted another £2 or so for a reasonable cover. I think this has got better now though.

        Also, be aware of most courier’s volumetric differences.

        I have a UPS account that I can send items for £3.19+VAT for 20kg small items, but for example a 60x40x60 box is equivalent to 29kg, and goes upto £6.40+VAT.

        I find UPS a very good service, never had a failure and always next day.

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