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Courier Services vs. Postal Services - A Guide for Singapore Businesses

Learn the difference between postal and courier services to choose the right delivery method for your ecommerce store.

There’s no doubt that ecommerce is big business—one that results in millions of parcels being shipped across the globe every day. In fact, in 2019, over 100 billion packages were handled in the world’s 13 major ecommerce markets, including the US (14.7 billion), China (63.5 billion), and India (2.8 billion). Choosing the right fulfillment method is becoming increasingly important for successful ecommerce entrepreneurs. Understanding the nuanced differences between postal and courier services can help you make the best choice for your business.

In 2019, Singapore cleared nearly 6.5 million parcels, a figure that’s set to rise as retailers woo more customers with local payment options like GrabPay and better shipping options. Singapore-based merchants have access to a wide range of fulfillment services to reach customers around the world. For local delivery services in Singapore, the Singapore Post postal service is a popular choice, as are on-demand couriers like QxPress and Ninja Van. For merchants looking to reach international markets, parcel delivery services in Singapore include affordable SingPost solutions and major couriers like DHL and UPS.

To help you decide which option will best suit your business, this guide will highlight the difference between postal and courier services, outline the different companies and services available in Singapore, and how to choose between them.

What’s the difference between postal and courier services?

It’s easy to think that there’s not much of a difference between postal and courier services. But, while both types of services will get your parcel from one place to another, each offers a very different experience. That’s why, whether you’re just beginning your ecommerce venture or already have a well-established business, you must understand the advantages and disadvantages of courier services and postal mail.

What are postal services in Singapore?

Almost all countries have a national postal service, which is usually run by a local government body. This service might also be referred to as a mail carrier. Some of the most famous ones include the United States Postal Service (USPS), the UK’s Royal Mail, and Australia Post. In Singapore, the local postal company is called Singapore Post, or SingPost. The company offers local and international parcel delivery services in Singapore.

In many cases, postal services offer the cheapest shipping options. For new retailers, this is a significant consideration over the benefits of courier services. On the other hand, postal services also tend to be slower—especially for international deliveries—and usually don’t offer extensive tracking, which can be frustrating for customers.

Another thing to remember with postal services is that each national postal service works in conjunction with others to deliver mail and parcels. For example, if you’re sending a parcel from Singapore to a customer in the US, SingPost would handle the package between Singapore and the US; once it arrives in the US, the USPS would take over for the final stages of delivery.

What are courier services in Singapore?

These are mail courier services offered by private providers. There are many different types of courier companies. Some offer a full range of end-to-end consumer and freight logistics—some of the most famous include DHL and FedEx. However, many provide specialized services. For example, some might focus only on last-mile logistics; others might only operate in certain countries.

Although they are often far more expensive than postal services, many established businesses prefer to use courier services because they offer a better level of service. Both customers and merchants can usually access end-to-end live-tracking, and parcels are usually delivered very quickly, especially if the company has international infrastructure, like DHL.

How do I choose between postal and courier services?

As an ecommerce merchant, choosing the right shipping solutions for your orders is essential for keeping your customers happy and ensuring your business's ongoing success. To properly weigh up your options, you'll need to understand your business's particular circumstances and the subtleties of courier vs. postal mail. Below, we’ll outline some of the attributes of both types of services so that you can better understand the difference between postal and courier logistics and make the right decision for your business.

Cost

One of the primary considerations in the mail courier vs. mail carrier debate is pricing. In many cases, shipping through a postal service is far cheaper than using a courier. But, although couriers sometimes charge up to two or three times more than postal services, they usually offer a more complete experience with better tracking, much faster delivery, and parcel pick-ups and drop-offs. As a retailer, you'll have to carefully weigh up this critical difference between postal and courier services and decide whether your company can afford the more expensive courier option or if it makes more sense to use SingPost’s more affordable shipping options.

Delivery Speed

One of the most significant benefits of courier companies is that they deliver parcels far faster than postal services. And, with ecommerce becoming an increasingly competitive industry, getting orders to your customers quickly is crucial. After all, research indicates that most customers don’t want to wait longer than 4.5 days to receive their orders.

To illustrate the difference in delivery times with courier vs. postal mail, let's look at how long it takes to send a parcel from Singapore to New York. With SingPost, the delivery time is generally between 10 and 18 days; with a major courier like UPS, it can be as little as three to eight days. In addition, couriers often provide more specific delivery times—and live up to these—than postal services do.

Size and Product Restrictions

Many courier services are also more generous with parcel size and weight restrictions. For retailers dealing with bigger or heavier products, this is another one of the major benefits of courier services—in most cases, postal services will only handle smaller, lighter packages. Similarly, postal services have tighter restrictions on what products you can send, which is why if you sell things like electronics or medicine, you may be better off using a courier.

If you’re thinking about using SingPost, you should know that their standard package size is 324mm x 299mm x 65mm; oversized packages are 400mm x 600mm x 300mm. Most parcel services also have a 2kg weight limit, though, with the SpeedPost services, this could be as much as 30kgs for a local delivery service in Singapore or 20kgs for international shipments.

Tracking

They may not know their orders are being sent by courier, but customers will appreciate one of the significant benefits of courier services—tracking. Although most postal companies offer tracking facilities on some services, these are often quite basic and might not be updated regularly or in detail. And, because delivery is shared between different national services, tracking might be unreliable. On the other hand, many courier services offer real-time tracking that allows merchants and customers to see exactly where their shipment is at any time.

For Singaporean merchants, though, this is less of a consideration because SingPost offers good tracking options for their Tracked Package and Speedpost local delivery service in Singapore. SingPost’s Speedpost parcel delivery service from Singapore offers full tracking for international shipments; the Registered Package service offers this for selected countries.

Packaging

Using branded packaging for your orders is a great way to offer a seamless customer journey with your company. Some merchants—especially those just starting out—might not prioritize this, but if you do, then you may want to consider using a courier service for your shipments.

Courier services are more likely to allow you to use your own branded packaging; some postal services may require you to use theirs, though SingPost doesn't. Because branded packaging is a great way to offer a seamless customer journey with a brand, some merchants will want to use courier services that allow custom packing. For those that don't prioritize this, postal services may suit them well enough. But, another benefit of courier services is that they can often help with packaging by offering free materials and even professional advice or packing services for tricky items.

Import Tax

For a local delivery service in Singapore, you won’t need to pay customs fees. But, if your shipments are crossing international borders, they may be subject to shipping duties and taxes. Many couriers offer a "Delivery Duty Paid" (DDP) option, which means a shipper can prepay these duties—this reduces the time a parcel spends at customs and offers your customers a much smoother delivery process. Many postal services, though, require shipping taxes and duties to be paid on delivery, which can be disruptive for customers. This is something to consider when deciding between courier vs. postal mail.

The Best Local Delivery Services in Singapore

As a major port and aviation hub, Singapore is very well connected and offers plenty of options for shipping. For local delivery service in Singapore, you can choose from a wealth of postal services and courier companies. We’ll run through some options below.

SingPost Local Delivery Service in Singapore

  • Basic Package: 2kg weight limit; 324mm x 229mm x 65mm size limit; 2-day delivery.
  • Tracked Package: 2kg weight limit; 324mm x 229mm x 65mm size limit; 2-day delivery; SG$10 basic insurance.
  • SpeedPost Express: 5kg weight limit; 320mm x 250mm x 100mm size limit; doorstep collection and delivery within two hours; up to SG$150 insurance.
  • SpeedPost Standard: 30kg weight limit; 600mm x 400mm x 300mm size limit; 1-day delivery; up to SG$150 insurance.

Courier companies with parcel delivery service in Singapore

  • Ninja Van: Offers solutions for social media retailers; bulk pricing and cash-on-delivery options available.
  • QXpress: Affordable prices for ecommerce and heavy parcels.
  • Grab: Range of courier services, including affordable 4-hour delivery with GrabExpress.
  • LalaMove: Courier-on-demand for bulky deliveries by van.

DHL offers international parcel delivery services from Singapore.

Which is the best international parcel delivery service in Singapore?

If you’re looking for an international parcel delivery service from Singapore, you’ll find plenty of options, too. All the major international courier companies operate here, and there are also various smaller services.

International shipments with SingPost

  • Basic package: 2kg weight limit; no tracking; no insurance; delivery within 18 days (APAC region), 16 days (Europe), or 20 days (North America).
  • Registered: 2kg weight limit; tracking for some countries; some insurance; same delivery times as basic package.
  • SpeedPost Economy: Tracking for some countries; free pick-up; 3-15 weeks delivery time; up to SG$150 insurance.
  • SpeedPost Priority: Full tracking; free pick-up; up to SG$150 insurance; 2-4 days delivery time.
  • SpeedPost Express: Full tracking; free pick-up; up to SG$150 insurance; 1-3 days delivery time.

Other couriers for international shipments

  • DHL: Parcel shipping, logistics, and ecommerce solutions.
  • Aramex: Great coverage in Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
  • UPS: Wide international network.
  • FedEx: Wide international network.
  • SF Express: Good reach in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, and China.
  • Janio: Express ecommerce solutions.

Which is Cheaper?: Courier vs. Postal Mail

One notable difference between postal and courier services is cost. Although there are many benefits of courier services, they are often very expensive—sometimes prohibitively so, especially for new retailers. To help you decide whether to use courier v postal mail for your orders, let's make a price comparison.

How much do local deliveries cost?

To evaluate the price difference for courier vs. postal mail within Singapore, we'll look at some local delivery services in Singapore. All rates are for a 2kgs package measuring 324mm x 220mm x 65mm going from Central Singapore to the West.

Service

Postal vs. Courier

Delivery Time

Price

SingPost Tracked Package

Postal

2 days

SG$3

SingPost SpeedPost Standard

Postal

1 day

SG$6

SingPost SpeedPost Express

Postal

1 day

SG$15-25

UPS Express Saver

Courier

1 day

SG$23.20

Ninja Van Standard Courier

Courier

1-3 days

SG$2.50

Ninja Van Express Courier

Courier

1-2 days

SG$4.50

QXpress

Courier

1-2 days

SG$3-5

How much do international deliveries cost?

An international parcel delivery service from Singapore will be more expensive than local shipments. However, when weighing up courier vs. postal mail, you'll realize that postal services are still cheaper, though there are many more benefits of courier services for international deliveries.

All rates are for a 2kg package measuring 324mm x 220mm x 65mm going from Central Singapore to Manhattan, New York City, USA.

Service

Postal vs. Courier

Delivery Time

Price

SingPost Basic Package International Small

Postal

10-16 days

SG$63

SingPost Registered Package International Small

Postal

10-18 days

SG$66

SingPost SpeedPost Priority

Postal

14 days

SG$107

SingPost SpeedPost Express

Postal

6 days

SG$159

UPS Worldwide Expedited

Courier

8 days

SG$93.96

UPS Worldwide Express

Courier

3 days

SG$113.10

DHL

Courier

3 days

SG$154.23

FedEx International First

Courier

3 days

SG$299.63

FedEx International Economy

Courier

6 days

SG$107.51

FAQs about courier vs. postal mail

Which are the best services for local deliveries in Singapore?

You’ll find many options for sending local deliveries in Singapore. Some of the most popular options include SingPost for affordability, Grab for flexible options or LaLaMove for fast, bulky deliveries. Ninja Van is a great choice for social media retailers and small businesses, and QXpress is a good choice for ecommerce and heavy parcels.

Which are the best services for international deliveries from Singapore?

Singapore’s prime geographic location makes it a great place from which to reach customers around the world. If you’re looking at international parcel delivery services from Singapore, you’ll find plenty of services, including SingPost if your priority is affordability, FedEx for fast delivery options or DHL for ecommerce solutions. Aramex is the best choice for Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, SF Express is the best option for Malaysia and the Greater China region, and UPS is a strong option for reaching many international markets. You may also want to consider Janio, possibly the best choice for affordable ecommerce logistics.

What’s the difference between SpeedPost and Courier Services?

SpeedPost is essentially a type of courier service, but it’s an express international parcel delivery in Singapore offered exclusively by the SingPost postal service. While SpeedPost is often more affordable than shipping with a courier, there are more benefits with courier services, such as faster delivery times and more extensive tracking.

Does SingPost offer ecommerce solutions?

Yes. For ecommerce merchants, SingPost offers its ezyCommerce logistics solution. This cloud-based fulfillment service is a simple, low-cost shipping service that retailers can use to deliver orders to customers around the world at affordable prices.

Find the best shipping solutions for your business

There are many advantages and disadvantages of courier services and postal solutions, and ecommerce retailers have to weigh these up carefully to find a fulfillment solution that works well for their business. Shopify empowers its merchants with informative articles and a host of helpful shipping apps on the Shopify App Store. Singaporean merchants shipping from the US, Canada, and Australia can also handle fulfillment through Shopify Shipping. No matter which option they choose, Singaporean e-retailers have access to precisely the courier or postal service they need to get orders to customers.

 

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