Depop is Changing How it Handles Unsold Items

Three screenshots of the Depop shopping app being used on an iPhoneBeing the hip, clever young people that they are (we assume), Depop have recently announced that they’ll be changing the way the popular app handles unsold items from inactive sellers.

It’s part of an effort to improve the purchase experience of people buying through the app. Since Depop is more Instagram than eBay, there is an issue with sellers that don’t fulfil their sales, so Depop have come up with a simple yet —hopefully — effective way of separating the wheat from the chaff.


What’s changing?


According to an email sent around to the customer base, Depop have explained what exactly is changing on the app:

“If a seller hasn’t opened Depop for 28 days, their items will become temporarily inactive. They won’t be buyable and they won’t appear in search results.”

This all sounds a little alarming to sellers out there, but the Depop team, have reassured their users that it’s simply a way of excluding sellers who aren’t engaged with the app, and that reactivating your items is very simple:

“The items will come back on sale the moment the seller opens Depop again.”

Like we said, simple but effective.


When will this change roll out?


Depop didn’t mention a specific date for the rollout of the update but the general impression seems to be that it’ll be as soon as possible.

That means that anyone with items for sale that’s been relatively inactive should act now to ensure that their items don’t promptly disappear from the search results.


What will it look like?


Broadly, it won’t really ‘look like’ anything; in fact, it’ll be more defined by an lack of visibility if anything. Simply put, if you’re not active, you won’t show up in the listings.

Buyers that are watching your items will start seeing a message just above your items that reads, ‘This item is not for sale — inactive seller’. Depop will remove the ‘Buy’ button from your listings, too.


What do I need to do?


It’s pretty simple — just engage a little more with the app. An easy way to remind yourself is to switch on push notifications to ensure that whenever anyone asks a question about any of your items, you can respond to it quickly, all the while giving a virtual nod to Depop to say ‘Hey, I’m engaging with potential customers — don’t write me off!’

You can also help yourself out by removing items that are no longer for sale. It keeps your shop clean and improves your reputation, since you won’t be misleading potential buyers.

Looking to increase sales? Offer shipping options on your items to appeal to a broader range of users.

Posted in News, Online shopping | Leave a comment

What is Expedited Delivery?

The word 'expedite' highlighted in a dictionary, being looked-up by someone who doesn't know the meaning


Expedited delivery is essentially when a particular parcel or consignment is prioritised over others, improving its delivery speed.

For many courier services ‘expedited’ is simply a means by which to describe the range of services that provide a faster delivery speed than the standard ‘three working days’ rule-of-thumb.

That said, ‘expedited delivery’ encompasses:

  • express deliveries (1-3 days typically for international services)
  • next-day deliveries
  • same-day deliveries


What does ‘Expedited’ mean?

The word ‘expedite’ simply means ‘to perform quickly’.

The word itself is derived from Latin. The prefix ‘ex’ (meaning ‘out’) and the word ‘ped’ (meaning ‘foot’) originally came together in ‘expedire’ (‘freeing the foot’), though soon afterwards someone swanned in with a ’t’ and it became ’expedite’. This is especially applicable to couriers since older systems had couriers delivering everything on foot.

Therefore, an Expedited Delivery is just a delivery that’s carried out more quickly than a standard service.

What’s the difference between an ‘express’ and an ‘expedited’ service?

Some e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay offer ‘expedited delivery’ as a particular service, as well as express, even though the words themselves essentially mean the same thing.

Naturally, that gets a little confusing for customers.

The difference between what is classed as an expedited service and an express one really depends on the site that’s offering the service. Amazon, for example, advertise Express Delivery as a next-day service in which the package is scheduled to arrive before 1 pm. Their Expedited Delivery, however, is a 1-3 day service.

To make things simpler, we break down UK deliveries into ‘Next-Day’, ‘2-Day’ and ‘3+ Day’ services at Parcel2Go.

When might I need an expedited service?

It’s important that online sellers are able to offer expedited deliveries for their customers because two-day and next-day deliveries are quickly becoming the norm of the industry.

As it gets easier to order online and getting it only hours later, customers can be put off if the product they want will only really be theirs in 3-5 working days.

Anyone looking to build their business online, then, should be able to offer expedited delivery options to their customers if they want a chance to compete in an ever-evolving online marketplace.
Hopefully that clears things up a little bit. At Parcel2Go, we offer a number of expedited shipping options for you to choose from wherever and whatever you’re sending. Why not get a quote today to see for yourself?

Posted in Amazon, eBay, Facts | Leave a comment

How Much Would It Cost to Send a Parcel in Westeros?

Game of Thrones logo

The postal service in Game of Thrones isn’t up to much.

Most letters seem to arrive in the beak of some scabby black bird, or at best in the quivering hands of a scrawny squire (see the ‘pink letter’ delivered to Castle Black in this week’s instalment). Postage just doesn’t seem to work in quite the same way it does in our modern, dragon-free lives.

But what if things weren’t so medieval in Westeros? What if there was a national postal service in place, an Iron Post Office to complement the Iron Bank, the Iron Islands, and the Iron Price?

How much would deliveries between the major cities cost?

The first thing we’ll need to do is figure out just how big Westeros is.


And I Would Walk 500 Leagues…

Game of Thrones guru Sean Garvey has created A Map of Ice and Fire, an interactive map that includes a handy measurement tool that will help us determine the proximity of some key locations from the books and the show.

Firstly, let’s quickly check the validity of Garvey’s map. There are two key pieces of information we can glean as markers for comparison:

  1. George R. R. Martin himself has gone on record saying that despite the similarities between Westeros and the United Kingdom, Westeros is actually “more the size of South America”

Let’s take into account that South America is approximately 4,500 miles in length. According to Garvey’s map, there’s about 3,000 miles between the Wall and the southern coast of Dorne.

Since this distance covers roughly two-thirds of the total landmass (the Land of Always Winter is difficult to measure because it stretches a little beyond the map), Garvey’s measurement seems to fit with George’s claim.

        2. The Wall is frequently referred to in the books as being “100 leagues long”.

George confirms in the previously cited post that “a league is three miles”, the same measurement used in real life. Therefore the Wall on Garvey’s map should be 300 miles long thereabouts, four times the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Which it does, pretty much.

Therefore, it’s safe to assume that Garvey’s map is pretty accurate.


Miles to the Wagon

To work out how much delivery will cost to the respective cities of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, we’ll first need something to send. Let’s say we’re sending Jon Snow’s Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw. That measures in at roughly:


Table indicating height, width and weight of Jon Snow's sword Longclaw

Next, we’ll need to work out a ‘per mile’ price for our courier, since there won’t be depots and planes to help reduce costs to a standard rate. Parcel delivery from London to Athens, Greece — the equivalent distance of Winterfell to King’s Landing — today costs around £55 on average, 3 p a mile for a squire. Based on that, we can estimate the following prices:

Table showing postage prices to various places in Game of Thrones compared with modern postal prices to various countries

We’re not even going to try and equate that to the rather loose economic definitions of gold and silver in the Game of Thrones universe, but rest assured that it shouldn’t phase the deep pockets of families like the Lannisters and the Tyrells.It looks like poor Podrick has some awful long journeys ahead of him should Brienne require him at any point as an emissary. Either way, we can’t wait to find out what happens in the new season. Valar Morghulis!

Posted in Editor's Pick, Facts, Most Popular | Leave a comment

How to Properly Package Glass

An obviously fragile wine glass wrapped in paper and with a

Disclaimer: Due to a higher breakage risk compared with other items, we are not able to offer compensation on glass items that are sent with any of our couriers. For more information, see our Terms and Conditions.

Glass is something that can make senders anxious. Boxing up a precious glass antique or something you’ve poured time into sculpting yourself can be stressful if you’re not sure how best to protect your item, making sending it feel like a gamble.

Thankfully, you can remove the stress of sending a glass item by ensuring you’ve packaged it properly.

Here are a few tips and tricks for you to bear in mind when packaging glass to radically minimise the risk of breakage over the course of its delivery.

Step 1: Box it

Choosing the right box for the job can make all the difference in ensuring your glass objects are protected. Couriers recommend the following for fragile items:

  • Use a brand new box for each delivery to minimise risk of splitting
  • Use a double-wall corrugated fibreboard box for heavier materials
  • Make sure that your box is big enough to accommodate packaging materials as well as the item that you’re delivering.

Small notice advising users to consider how thicker boxes might make for heavier packages

Step 2: Package it

Once you’ve chosen a new, sturdy box, you need to think about the types of packaging materials you’ll need for maximum insulation from impact. It’s not quite as simple as going crazy with polystyrene though, because certain kinds of packaging aren’t suitable for slim or large objects.

Here’s what you should choose for glassware.


  • Bubblewrap — wrap individual items in small bubblewrap so they don’t collide, then use large bubble wrap to bunch them together.
  • Kraft paper — crumple it up and use it to fill any excess space to stop items from moving inside the box.
  • Corrugated liners — they boost the structural integrity of the box.
  • Styrofoam wedges — these are especially important for large flat items with corners, such as mirrors.


  • Air bags — anything with sharp corners can potentially pop the air bags and render them useless.
  • Polystyrene “peanuts” — they don’t offer much protection for flat items that could slide between them.
  • Newspaper — not only is it too soft to properly protect glass, but the ink will run if the parcel gets wet.

Finding the right amount of packaging is about striking a balance. Over-filling the box could result in it bursting or the items being crushed, and under-filling means that the contents will fly about whenever they’re handled. Make sure your item is at least 2 inches (just over 5 cm) from each inner side of the box to ensure that it doesn’t bear the brunt of those odds bumps along the journey.

And remember: “if you can shake it, you can break it.”

Tip: make sure you wrap the stems of wine glasses in extra bubble wrap

Step 3: Seal it

Properly sealing your box is the key to, well, keeping the contents inside. That much is obvious, but what is a little more tricky is knowing how to properly seal it. The types of tapes recommended by most couriers are:

  • Pressure-sensitive plastic (the most popular option)
  • Nylon-reinforced filament tape
  • Vinyl tape

Whichever tape you use, it should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Otherwise, there won’t be a big enough surface area to prevent the box flaps from slipping open.

Notice that you can purchase tape that says Fragile on it

Step 4: Label it

The first thing to get right is the address label you’ll be adding to your parcel. If you’re sending internationally, ensure that you’ve addressed your parcel in accordance with the labelling format of that country, and the country name must be written on the last line of the address.

Labels should not be placed across a seam or a closure, in case the package needs to be opened for any reason.

You’ll need to include a return address and some contact details with your parcel should you need to be contacted in the unlikely event of a breakage. Royal Mail advises including a contact name, address, and telephone number inside the package so as to prevent it from falling off the parcel.

Write 'glass' on the outside of a parcel for more accurate handling

No amount of labelling is a substitute for good, sturdy packaging though, so ensure that your box and packaging materials are nailed before you even think about labelling you parcel.

Step 5: Send it

All that’s left to do after that is send your parcel! Knowing that your glass items are properly secured takes the stress out of delivery, allowing you to put your feet up and rest easy. You can find out more about our packaging advice here.

Anything we’ve missed? If you’ve got any extra tips that you think other customers could benefit from, share them in the comment box below.

Posted in Packaging Guides | Leave a comment

Warning to Customers: Fraudulent Parcel2Go Contact Numbers

Fraud alert of phone scam

We’ve had reports from a number of customers that a false contact number for Parcel2Go customer services has been published online, which is costing several people in phone charges.

Please DO NOT CALL the following number: 0345 504 0362. It is our understanding that this is a fraudulent line.

The number in question is being provided on

Customers calling this number are put on hold automatically, and are charged for the full duration of the time they are on the line.

Further Action

We have reported this number to Action Fraud, but without other similar complaints being logged, there is little Action Fraud can do to remove the number.

We strongly encourage anyone who has been a victim of this fraudulent number to visit and file a fraud report. With enough help, we can together ensure that this number is removed, and that future fraudsters are deterred.

Please raise awareness of this issue by sharing this post on social media and via email. That way, we can keep others from being affected.

If you’ve found any other fraudulent numbers, we encourage you to share them in the comments below.

Posted in Parcel2Go News | Leave a comment

The Starter Guide to Selling on eBay

eBay logo on-screen with a seller ready to begin

eBay is big. Really big.


By the end of last year, the total number of active eBay users had surpassed 162 million, with an annual revenue of $17.94 billion in 2014.


With that kind of influence — both monetary and social — eBay has been the go-to marketplace for online sellers for the last decade or so.


Still, just because eBay has been around for a while doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is familiar with it. If you’re new to eBay and you’re thinking about starting to sell, we want to be your helping hand.


Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide that covers the following topics.


  1. Before you sell
    • The rules of selling
    • Selling fees
    • Setting up an account


2. Listing your first item

  • Market research
  • Creating your listing
  • Payment and postage options


3. After making the sale

  • Communicating with your buyer
  • Delivering your item


Plus, we’ll throw in a few handy tips for you along the way to help you sell more quickly and efficiently. Nothing like having an advantage from the outset to bolster your online enterprise and see some real growth in no time!


So, without further ado, let’s crack on.


Before You Sell


It would be mistake to plunge into selling on eBay before taking some time out to survey the landscape. Without checking out the rules of selling or how the selling fees work on eBay, you might find yourself in a pickle further down the line when you find out you’ve listed a prohibited item, or that you’ve chosen the wrong payment plan for your selling habits and are getting charged more than necessary.

Here’s a short rundown of the things you should check out before you start listing items.


1. The Rules of Selling


Contrary to popular belief, eBay isn’t some Wild West of e-commerce. There are rules, designed to  to discourage so-called ‘cowboy sellers’ from promising the world online before — quite literally — failing to deliver.


Make sure that you can follow these ‘laws of the land’ before you embark on your grand eBay enterprise, so that both eBay and potential buyers will find you to be respectable and trustworthy.


Prohibited items


There are a number of items you can’t sell on eBay. These include things like:


  • Chance listings (giveaways, random draws and raffles)
  • Firearms and other weapons
  • Offensive material (pornographic and racially/ethnically derogatory materials)
  • Illegal services


Check out eBay’s prohibited items list before selling. You should also check out our list of items couriers can’t carry to avoid selling an item you can’t deliver thereafter.



Listing practices 


eBay is cracking down on something called “keyword spamming”. It’s basically where a user deliberately fills their listing with key words and phrases that people will be searching for to ensure that their product gets to the top of most lists.


This doesn’t work very well any more. In fact, eBay and Google are both more geared towards rewarding descriptions that users find useful.


Keep your listings informative and precise, and you’ll soon see the benefits.





eBay isn’t keen on sellers using inappropriate language. This isn’t limited to listings, though; it includes posts on community pages, HTML and JavaScript functions, and on external web pages that you link to eBay.


It’s best practice, then, to avoid using any language that could be perceived as offensive in nature whenever you use eBay or a related forum.



 2. Selling Fees


eBay keeps itself running largely on the small fees that they ask from their sellers.


The amount you pay depends on a couple of factors, such as whether you are a private or business seller, or the number of items you list per month.


There are a number of fees to understand before you start selling.

List of eBay's selling fees with explanations

One thing worth noting is that the fees will vary depending on the type of eBay account you sign up for: a private account, or a business account.


Private and Business Accounts


Private and business accounts are the two basic account types you can have when you start selling on eBay. If you’ve not registered as a business with eBay, you’ll automatically be regarded as a private seller.


You should register as a business if you:


  • Sell items you bought to resell
  • Sell items that you produced yourself to sell
  • Sell a large amount of goods on a regular basis
  • Sell new items that you bought but don’t use
  • Sell items as a trading assistant
  • Buy items for your business


Below are some of the key differences between private selling and business selling. Take a look to see which of the two will better suit your selling habits.


Private Seller

Business Seller

First 20 listings per month are free. Subscription available for unlimited fixed-price listings.
You’ll only pay a final value fee if your item sells. VAT percentage provided on Sell Your Item form.
Never pay more than £250 on  the final value fee. Display contact details, returns policies, and terms and conditions in your listings.
Qualify for VAT exemption rules.



You can register as either a private or business seller when you first set up your eBay account, which we’ll cover in detail next.


 3. Setting Up Your Account


You’ll need an account if you want to sell anything on eBay. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to do. Just follow these steps:


  1. Go to the eBay sign in page and click the tab marked “Register”
  2. Enter the requested details (your email address, a password, your name and you phone number)
  3. Select a payment method for paying your seller fees
  4. Make a public Feedback Profile
  5. Select the payment methods you’ll take from buyers

A tip for eBay sellers to get PayPal verified
Once all that’s done, you’re ready to list your first item!



Listing Your First Item


Once you’ve checked out eBay’s rules and set up your account, you’re ready to start listing items and making some money. Huzzah!


Listing an item and getting a sale, however, are not the same thing. There are a few things you show know about how to optimise your listing for the current market in order to ensure the people who want what you’re selling see your listing, and have all the information they need to make a purchase.



1. Researching Your Item


Now that you’re a registered seller, it’s time to spec out the competition. Check the listings for items  that are similar to the goods you’re looking to sell, and compile a list of market averages for each one.


Here’s what you need to look out for.


  • The going price — search for your item or items like it on eBay as well as other marketplace sites like Amazon to determine the kind of price a buyer will expect.
  • Availability — determine how easy it is to purchase the item you want to sell online. Rarity will allow you to ask for a little more assuming your item is in good condition. Conversely, easy-to-find items mean more competition, so you’ll need a solid price point to shift your goods.
  • Unique Selling Points (USPs) — is there anything you listing could offer that others currently don’t?
  • What people want to know — find out what questions people are asking about your product and answer them in your product description.


Once you’ve compiled your findings, you’re ready to list your item.


 2. Creating a Listing


The first thing you’ll need to do is go to eBay, log in, and click the “Sell” icon in the top left-hand corner.

eBay Listing Step 1


Next, you’ll be asked to enter the title of the product you’re selling. Be as specific as possible here. Include things like brand name, item colour, production year, and the item’s condition in the title. By being specific, eBay can better categorise your item so more relevant buyers can see it when it’s listed.

eBay Listing Step 2

Once you’ve added a product title, eBay will suggest a category to add your item to with a little “breadcrumb trail”.


Note that if you’re selling a product that’s been listed a lot on the site, eBay will give you a number of items similar. If you want to, you can select a similar product and click “Sell one like this” to let eBay know you want your item categorised in the same way.


Once you’re happy with your product category, click “Create listing”.


You’ll then be presented with page to enter your details, which looks like this:


Listing Step 3


Let’s go through each one by one:


  • Title — This should be the same as the one you entered on the last page, but should you need to change anything — perhaps you want to add a couple of details or you’ve noticed a misspelling — now’s your chance.


  • Condition — You’ll get to choose the condition of your item. Be really honest here — people who buy a ‘New’ item and are presented with one that’s clearly used aren’t going to leave positive feedback. Plus, buyers can filter their searches by item condition, so it’ll help you get the attention of those who are after your item in the specified condition.


  • Photos — You get to upload 12 photos of your item for free, so use them. Show buyers the item from every angle to emulate that brick-and-mortar experience of seeing it in-store. This is also your chance to show users any small marks or damage described into your item description, so they don’t get any surprises after purchase.


  • Item specifics — These change depending on the category your item falls into. Even though the item specifics are optional, we highly recommend completing as many of them as possible to ensure any and all information your buyer needs is already included in your listing.


  • Details — Polish up your sales pitch and include it into the item details. If you’re a good writer, this is your time to shine. If not, try and keep your description simple with short sentences. Try to use this space to cover anything that would be missed in the item specifics.



Finally, you’ll need to choose a listing format. Note that auctions are often better for rare items — things like limited-edition releases or a one-off item that’s difficult to find elsewhere.


If you’re selling multiple items that don’t have a strong enough USP for auctioning, you can list them as “Fixed Price”. This is the go-to choice for businesses, as it lends better to projecting revenue.



3. Payment and Postage Options


The next thing you’ll need to do is tell eBay how you’d like to accept payment for your item from the buyer, and how you intend to send it to them.





The postage option eBay will automatically provide for you is the “Select postage for me” option. However, you can save money by selecting the “Select postage myself” option and getting a quote with a courier comparison site like
eBay postage options screenshot

Alternatively, you could offer local collection, though this will really limit your influence and could be a deal-breaker for some buyers. We’d only recommend doing this if your item is particularly large — a piece of furniture for example — that would otherwise cost quite a lot to deliver.


The last option is “eBay Drop-off”. eBay Drop-off allows sellers to drop off their parcel at a local store — Argos, for example — to be picked up and delivered by an eBay courier.

<img src=”” align=”center” width=”600″ style=”margin:20px;”>




Lastly, you’ll be able to select a payment method. The options presented to you are:


  • PayPal — Though there is a small charge for using PayPal, accepting payments via PayPal makes life easier for the buyer while lowering the risk factor involved with purchasing your item thanks to PayPal’s security software. The increase in sales will more than likely make up for small fee incurred.


  • Personal cheque — Cheques are a little outdated and they make life more stressful for the buyer, so we recommend avoiding this as a payment method unless it’s essential.


  • Postal order — Postal orders are essentially an alternative to electronic payment, but a lot of modern buyers don’t trust postal order because of the risk of fraud.


Once you’ve chosen your payment method, you can list you item!


Then you play the waiting game…



After Making the Sale


If things go your way — and they should, thanks to your comprehensive research and your stellar listing — you’ll soon be doing the “just sold an item” dance.


Once you’ve calmed down, you’ll need to get your item to the buyer.


Below, we’ve covered all the bases to ensure you have all the after-sales support you need.



1. Communicating with your buyer


Not all sales on eBay go as smoothly as you’d like. Every now and again there may be a hiccup, whether that’s a payment not going through or a buyer backing out of the purchase at the last minute.


To contact your buyer:


  1. Click the ‘Advanced’ link at the top of the eBay home page
  2. On the left side of the page, click ‘Find contact information’
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions


Here are some reasons why you might need to contact your buyer after you’ve made the sale.


  • The buyer didn’t pay for the item — Occasionally, a buyer won’t pay for the item, most often due to a technical failure, but might not necessarily be aware of this. If you don’t receive the payment within a couple of days of the sale, contact the buyer to find out what’s going on. If you don’t get a response, you can report an unpaid item in the Resolution Centre. eBay staff will help you from there.


  • The buyer backed out of the sale — A buyer might want to back out of the sale following winning the bid due to monetary issues, or the realisation that the item they’ve bought isn’t what they thought it was (you can minimise the likelihood of this happening by being as detailed as possible in your listing). Contact the buyer to get a clear reason why they no longer want the item, then decide whether or not your want to let them cancel the transaction. You may be able to do so in the My eBay section on the site.


  • You’re not able to follow through on the sale — If you can’t follow through on your sale for any reason, contact the buyer before you cancel the transaction. Reassure them they won’t be charged and, if necessary, offer them something small as compensation (if, for example, the item was high value). Then you can cancel the transaction in the Sold section of My eBay.


Contacting your buyer is useful for reassuring them that yes, you are a real person, and yes, you’re actually quite a nice one. It brings a human side to the transaction and renders it likely that they’ll remember you in future.



2. Having your item delivered


Before you send your item, ensure that the buyer has actually paid for it. Check that their credit card or PayPal has been accepted and that the full amount has been credited to your account. You’ll get an email notifying you if the buyer completes the checkout page on your item.


If you opt to save money by booking an independent courier service, there are a few steps you should take to ensure delivery goes as smoothly as possible.


  1. Firstly, package your item according to our packaging guidelines. Fragile items will need to be packed slightly differently to hardy items; the same goes for bulky versus small items.
  2. Once you’ve packed your item, get a quote for your parcel, ensuring that the weight you’ve quoted factors in the weight of packaging too.
  3. Select the service that’s appropriate for the item you’re sending and matches the conditions outlined in your listing (delivery speed, method, or cost, for example).
  4. Book and pay for the delivery.
  5. Wait in for collection if you’ve chosen a collection service, or drop off your parcel at a local store if you’ve booked a drop-off service.

That’s it on your part. Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your online labour.


Soon enough, the itch to sell your next item will need to be scratched. That’s how it starts. As you keep growing as a seller, you’ll gain the experience necessary to deal with more complex listings, more demanding buyers, more useful selling technology.


To learn about how you can book cheap UK deliveries online, click here.

Posted in eBay, Tips | Leave a comment

What is a Courier?

Ever wondered what a courier does and how they do it? We look to the past and the present to find out.


It’s happened to everyone.

You buy something on eBay. You win something in a competition. Or maybe you’ve just learned a free gift is on its way as part of a subscription. And then you see that message.

“Your package will arrive by courier.”

“Courier” is a word that seems to be used everywhere, yet it’s never really explained. The closest we often get is by example. “You know, like UPS”.

Except, some examples just don’t make it clear what a courier actually does.

We thought it was worth clearing a few things up to help people better understand what a courier does, where the word “courier” came from, and how modern couriers operate.

So without further ado, let’s address the most obvious question…


What is a courier?

A courier service, to put it simply, is a company that offer special deliveries of packages and documents.

Courier services differ from the Post Office because they run independently of any nationalised service, and are therefore able to boast faster delivery times and a broader range of services.

Because couriers offer dedicated delivery services, they’re the delivery method of choice for most businesses. In fact, many companies that rely on quick deliveries for their business will use a particular courier for all their fulfilment.

For example, one company might have all their orders fulfilled by a courier service like Yodel, while another might use DPD instead.

Part of the reason many people don’t know what a courier is is that the word “courier” itself doesn’t give a great deal away. You have to look into its etymology to uncover the link.


Where did the word “courier” come from?


“Courier” is actually a Latin derivative. It comes from the Latin word “currere”, which means “to run”.

Most couriers drive everywhere these days, which makes the original meaning of “courier” kind of obsolete. However, “to run” certainly applies to older delivery method.

In Ancient Rome, for example, the Cursus Publicus operated with a network of couriers — or “runners” — that would run between two points to deliver a message or an item. Longer journeys required horseback riders instead to ensure the message was delivered in good time.

Ancient couriers were even known to have established a relay system to improve delivery speed, whereby one rider would travel for a day or so with the message and hand it to another rider waiting at a checkpoint, who would set off as the first courier stopped to rest for the night.

It was essentially the earliest version of an express delivery service.

Perhaps the most famous example of couriers as “runners”, though, is in the legend of Pheidippides.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Pheidippides was a Greek messenger who ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians at the hands of the Spartans before collapsing and dying on the spot.

Talk about dedication to the job!

So how have these “runners of the people”, as it were, evolved to accommodate today’s highly demanded delivery economy? How have couriers adapted to the game-changer that is online shopping?

The answer? Very well indeed.


How do couriers operate today?

Most modern courier services tend to operate on a national or even a global scale.

Moderately-sized courier companies have fleets of ground vehicles — bikes, cars and vans — that each go out and pick up a certain number of packages a day before taking them all back to a depot to be sorted by the staff there.

Once a parcel has been sorted properly, it can be dispatched from the depot to be sent to the specified recipient. Parcels are usually sorted by their area of delivery to make sending as efficient as possible.

Large courier services even have dedicated aeroplanes in their fleets for massive-scale international deliveries. These include FedEx, DPD, and the world’s biggest courier brand, UPS.

To give you an idea of the sheer scale that these companies have to operate on, UPS delivers a staggering 15 million packages a day to over 6 million recipients around the world.

Despite this scale, though, UPS is able to handle that number with a system that has been refined and refined for the best part of a century, which now allows them and couriers like them to keep deliveries fast and accurate without having to compromise on volume.

A quick recap

So before we wrap things up, let’s quickly recap:

  • A courier service is a company that offer special deliveries of packages and documents.
  • “Courier” comes from the Latin word for “to run”
  • Modern couriers can operate on huge scales thanks to refined systems of sorting and dispatching.

Couriers at their core, then, are still the runners of the people, going the distance to bring recipients the items they expect in the time they expect it to be delivered.

To learn more about the couriers in our network, and how we guarantee some of the best prices, click here.

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Royal Mail Managers Vote to go on Strike

Voting to StrikeMembers of Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, have voted to go on strike in response to a pay dispute with Royal Mail.

The strike follows Royal Mail’s ‘paltry’ pay rise offer to their managers of just 1.3%, despite months of discussions with the company.

The statement made by Unite suggests that members of the union “voted by 78% to take strike action”, a 4-1 weighting strongly in favour of industrial action.


Causes and Consequences of Strike Action


Royal Mail’s refusal to budge, says Unite officer Brian Scott, is what brought on the vote for strike action, which is “reflected in the very strong vote for industrial action”.

“We could be talking about an all-out strike,” he went on, “which would cause severe disruption to deliveries to 27 million addresses.”

Scott conceded that in the first instance, the union is “likely to call upon member to work to rule.” Working to rule is still likely to disrupt Royal Mail’s delivery services in the meantime since, according to Scott, “[a]ny action [at all] would have a detrimental impact on business and commerce.”


Royal Mail responds


Royal Mail responded to news of the decision made by the union in a statement sent to Post&Parcel yesterday evening. A spokesperson said: “Royal Mail is very disappointed that members of Unite have voted in favour of industrial action[.]”

“Any action or threat of action is damaging to our business,” the spokesperson added.

It is as yet unclear how long industrial action will go on for and the extent to which it will delay deliveries around the country.

Thankfully, independent courier services will still operate as normal. Historically, it’s been during the strikes that couriers have picked up a significant proportion of deliveries that would normally be sent through the Post Office, meaning that there are plenty of reliable alternatives for those still wishing to send in future.

To find out more about the options available through an independent courier service, click here.

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More Post Offices Due to Close in Deal with WH Smith

Royal Mail strikes imminent400 jobs could be endangered by the expected closure of 129 post offices across the country, as the result of a deal between WH Smith and the Post Office.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) stated that the ten-year deal to integrate the two companies will put workers at risk.

Why the move?

There are currently 107 Post Office branches already operated by WH Smith, including 39 of the “Crown” sites, dedicated post offices located on UK high streets.

The ten-year deal between the Post Office and WH Smith will see integration of a further 61 branches, following the announcement of an 11% rise in gross profit for September to February, putting the total up to £80 million.

“Blatant back-door privatisation”

The CWU has criticised the move as “the beginning of the death rattle for a national, high-quality post office network.”

“It is completely incongruous that WH Smith can run a major post office better than the Post Office itself,” said Assistant Secretary Andy Furey. “Our members do not wish to work for WH Smith, which has a track record of zero hours contracts and a minimum wage approach to resourcing.”

The CWU told The Guardian that the move was evidence of “blatant back-door privatisation” that will put jobs at risk.

Concerns raised over job security

On top of objections regarding WH Smith as an employer, other members of the CWU have expressed fears that more than 400 jobs could be at risk due to the widespread closures resulting from the move.

Fuelling the worry is the memory that hundreds of long-term staff were previously made redundant in an earlier move, when WH Smith took on the initial batch of post offices in 2006.

It remains to be seen to what extent these potential closures will impact customers.

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UK Deliveries Could be Affected by Potential Royal Mail Strike

Royal Mail strikes imminent Following a dispute over pay, nearly 5,000 Royal Mail managers have agreed to vote on whether or not they should go on strike.

How did this all come about?

Back in September, Royal Mail sat down to discuss pay rises with UK branch managers. After months of debate, however, the ‘final offer’ that the employees were given was a ‘paltry’ 1.3% pay increase.

According to Unite, 95% of union members refused the offer.

Royal Mail has nevertheless refused to budge, prompting the union to take action. Unite officer Brian Scott told Sky News that members “are disgusted and upset by the abject failure of Royal Mail to take the issue of pay seriously.”

He warned that “[i]f bosses don’t get around the table and industrial action goes ahead, it will hit the delivery of mail and parcels.”

Has this happened before?

Royal Mail strikes over pay have taken place twice before in the last ten years alone. The first was in 2007 over insufficient pay, pension plans, and Sunday collections. The second was just two years later in 2009, when the Communication Workers Union voted to strike over pay and jobs.

How will this affect customers?

Royal Mail managers are responsible for keeping deliveries running smoothly by communicating between different teams. According to Sky News, this means that deliveries to almost 27 million homes could be affected.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other courier services that will remain hard at work whether or not industrial action goes ahead.

You can find alternative ways to send by getting a delivery quote with Parcel2Go today.

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