WooCommerce has made a world of difference for business owners looking to open an online store, manage orders and handle deliveries. There are many useful plugins that you can make use of in order to simplify the entire process.
Lately, the WooCommerce Royal Mail Shipping plugin from PluginHive has created quite a buzz among the WooCommerce users. Especially among the ones in the United Kingdom. And rightfully so. The plugin delivers some of the best features available in the market right now. With Parcelforce coming into the picture, it’s even harder to ignore the various possibilities of using this plugin. You can say that this shipping integration is indeed a blessing to many.
So in this article, we shall get you informed about Parcelforce in general, and walk you through the benefits of using it with your store. We shall specifically look into the plugin features that make shipping with Parcelforce a much easier job. And there’s also a simple guide along the way which will help you set it up on your WooCommerce store. So sit tight and read along.
What is Royal Mail?
Royal Mail is one of the most trusted shipping services around. They have been delivering items within and outside of the UK for more than 500 years now. Royal Mail has a well-organised delivery system that is capable of delivering millions of letters and parcels. Even on the busiest days like Christmas. And unlike any other courier service, Royal Mail shipping has some of the most traditional yet effective ways of delivering packages to their destinations within the predicted time-frame.
What is Parcelforce Worldwide?
Parcelforce is also a part of Royal Mail. In the year 1986, Royal Mail created a dedicated unit that was later rebranded to Parcelforce in 1990. They again rebranded Parcelforce to Parcelforce Worldwide in the year 1998. Royal Mail thereafter started to invest intensively in IT and other necessary infrastructure in order to jump into the online market. They introduced many amazing facilities like online order tracking, building multiple national and international hubs, introducing various parcel packing methodologies, and much more.
Services provided by both the couriers
Both Royal Mail and Parcelforce offers commendable facilities and services. They actually work really great within the UK and Europe. They offer the similar set of services, faster delivery options, order tracking feature and a lot more.
Royal Mail, on one hand, offers exceptional services locally. The maximum parcel weight limit is 20 kgs. Another thing is that the shipping rates offered are really economical. And probably that’s the reason why many shop owners prefer to use their international services. However, Royal Mail international shipping is limited to certain regions. So if your business allows you to ship to these countries then you can use their services.
Parcelforce, on the other hand, is better known for their international shipping. That’s because they have more reach and well-organized hubs spread across the world. They serve a lot more countries when compared to the Royal Mail services. And as one would expect, the shipping rates are slightly higher than that of Royal Mail. But on the bright side, you can ship parcels weighing up to 30 kgs.
Here’s an article that’ll tell you more about delivering items internationally using Royal Mail.
Using Parcelforce Worldwide for international orders
Parcelforce is capable of handling a whopping 58,500 domestic parcels per hour and has a reach of 240 countries. Which clearly states its capability. But before you start using Parcelforce right away, you should know a few more things about it. Like how it operates or the services that support international shipping, and how to prepare for the customs, etc. So in order to understand how everything goes around, we shall take an example.
Nathan owns an online bookstore where he sells various books from the local authors. He has a warehouse in Broxburn where his co-workers maintain the inventory and prepare the parcels when needed. In addition to that, he only delivers the books outside the United Kingdom.
He uses the WooCommerce Royal Mail Shipping plugin in order to use the international services. He has enabled the following services in the back-end of his WooCommerce.
This way his customers in other countries can select from the available list of services that appear on the Cart page. As soon as they place an order, Nathan receives the email notification which he further shares with his team at the warehouse. His team then starts preparing for the order while Nathan sends an online pickup request to Parcelforce Worldwide.
The Parcelforce team later sends their courier van to his warehouse address where his team handovers the parcel to the driver. Nathan thereafter records the shipping date and receives the order tracking information from Parcelforce.
With the Royal Mail Shipping plugin, he can share the order tracking information with his customers. As you can see in the above image, the plugin offers a dedicated section for tracking. Nathan can enter the necessary information right here and then click on Save/Show Tracking Info which assigns the tracking information to their orders.
Once the order is complete, he manually changes the Order Status from Processing to Completed. This action triggers an email which is called the Order completion email. This email gets automatically sent to the customers and contains the necessary tracking information. Customers can click on the Tracking ID inside the email and track their order right on the official Parcelforce website.
Can you drop off your parcel to Parcelforce?
The answer’s yes.
You can drop off the parcels at your local Post Office branch. Considering the fact that there are over 11,000 branches all around the UK, you won’t have a hard time doing that. And if you want to deliver a parcel to an international destination then you have to drop off at a Parcelforce Worldwide depot. There’s 54 of them so you don’t have to worry.
What are the other benefits of using Parcelforce?
A lesser known fact about Parcelforce is that you can collaborate with them in order to maximize your delivery capacity. You can handle bulk orders and deliver them to the customers using their premium services. Let’s take a real-life example.
Stephen owns a retail network of over 80 stores spread across the UK. His company works together with Parcelforce, who handles up to 2,000 of his parcels per day. The courier vans collect the orders from his distribution centers in Livingston and Bathgate.
Stephen’s company needs to be able to pick and dispatch his customer orders as soon as they come. And again, Parcelforce works closely together to completely integrate the label generation with his dispatch system. Since his work is time-critical, the labels are automatically generated during dispatch and the tracking details are assigned to their respective orders.
Stephen uses the WooCommerce Shipment Tracking Pro plugin in order to update these tracking details to their respective orders. His speedy team members create the CSV file and add the tracking details like the service name, tracking ID, shipping time, etc., and then upload it to the website.
Doing this automatically completes his Processing orders and assigns the tracking details to each order. Thereafter, WooCommerce automatically sends the order completion emails to his clients. That’s just like how the WooCommerce Royal Mail Shipping plugin handles tracking.
You can check out this article to know more about the WooCommerce Shipment Tracking Pro.
Some useful tips for preparing parcels for Parcelforce
Preparing the boxes/parcels
Parcelforce recommends users to pack the items in a strong cardboard box. The box should be strong and durable enough to survive the trip. You have to ensure that there’s no extra space in your parcel for the items to move freely inside. So using packing items like polystyrene boards should really help you with it.
For delicate items, you should always bubble wrap to cover them up and then place them inside the box. And for additional safety, you can even place them inside a larger box. If you are going to ship electronics items then they should be protected by thick rigid packaging. Never use those soft cases that come with them, rather place them inside a box and then place this box inside a larger box with some additional padding.
Attaching shipping labels to your parcels
The shipping labels should be glued to the parcels in a way that it doesn’t come off at any point in time. For that, you can put the label in a plastic envelope and then strap it on to the parcel with a bag tie. A safer way of keeping labels attached to the parcel is to place the second shipping label inside the parcels. You can also choose to place it on the box inside the parcel or in an interior pocket if available.
Another important aspect of attaching labels is mentioning the address and other relevant information correctly on the parcel. You have to make sure that the delivery address is accurate, especially the postcode and the phone number. For international deliveries, you have to make sure that the contact number of both the recipient and sender is written on the customs declaration. Check out this article to know more about clearing customs and shipping items internationally.
Any other information regarding Parcelforce?
As you already know that Parcelforce and Parcelforce Worldwide is a trading name of Royal Mail. But many of you might not know that they also work with GLS (General Logistics Systems) in order to deliver items within Europe. Both Parcelforce and GLS are fully integrated and they really do work well together.
Parcelforce can also work according to your business hours. So let’s say you own a business where customers can shop until 11 PM at night. And you have to deliver items to them as soon as possible, preferably, the next day or the next working day. In this case, Parcelforce can personally send their collection van at your dispatch and further complete the delivery in time. This is really useful for businesses that are closely related to multi-channel retailers and work around the clock.
Opting for the right courier is not just a matter of delivering items to the customers. It goes far beyond in the search for the right ally. An ally that should help your business in every way possible. So the deserving courier service should satisfy both you and your customers with their quality, speed, and cost-effective delivery services.
Both Royal Mail and Parcelforce comes packed with these qualities. They are considered to be the staple for handling letters and parcels in the UK. Many store owners have been using their exceptional services in order to deliver items to their customers.
This article was an attempt to help you understand how things work with Parcelforce. If you wish to know about Royal Mail with the similar kind of detailed information then feel free to check out this article. Hope that helps.
Parcelforce Worldwide Made Easy with WooCommerce Royal Mail Shipping plugin was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.