If you’re selling items that are either very expensive, difficult to install, or a combination of the two, chances are that your customer would also really prefer great shipping service.
The delivery stage matters because it is when the shipment is most prone to damage — either due to external factors during transit or due to human error during installation.
And because your customer has paid already, the more they’re expectant of their order to arrive in good condition.
The right service, then, must be used so you maintain your customers and attract even more. The most often used services for these situations are white glove shipping services and inside delivery.
But how would you know which one should you choose?
This article will help you learn more about both of them as well as give you examples of scenarios where one service is clearly preferable over the other.
What is a White Glove Service?
A white glove service refers to one of many services for shipments that require special attention during shipping. These shipments are usually very heavy or very fragile and need to be handled with utmost care to prevent damage. The term “white glove” comes from the white gloves often worn by staff in luxury retailers, hotels, and restaurants.
White glove services are offered by carriers who have trained staff that can safely handle and install certain items. Some of their services may also include:
- Pre and post site inspections. The area where the shipment needs to be installed is inspected before and after to be able to determine any specific configurations during installation as well as ensure safety and reliability.
- Protective packaging. Given the nature of the shipment, it is packaged with the appropriate materials to protect it from damage during shipping.
- Clean and appropriate transportation. Containers are cleaned and inspected to minimize contamination and damage from external sources. Specific containers for certain shipments are also used to protect the cargo.
- Dismantling and product assembly. Trained delivery personnel carry the shipment to the specified location and assemble the product according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. They can also move and dismantle an old product if it needs to be replaced.
What are its benefits?
Better customer satisfaction
You minimize the possibility of breaking a customer’s order while in transit because it is packaged properly. And when it arrives at the destination, your customer doesn’t have to worry about installing the item because trained personnel do it for them. Overall, your customer will be very happy because of your customer service and is more likely to buy from you again.
Reduce product returns
Not all customers can dismantle an old unit and install the replacement, making them more likely to break the item before they’ve even started using it. Now, they want to return the item even if it wasn’t your fault.
But by having trained personnel to do the installation, you reduce the chances of losing money from these broken and returned products that also take up valuable warehouse space.
White glove service often comes with tracking, so you and your customer know when the shipment arrives. You can also worry less about missing, delayed, or lost packages, which are ultimately losses to your bottomline.
How to choose the right white glove service provider
Take the time to look into different service providers so you can choose which one suits your business the most. Look into what kinds of white glove services they offer and also consider reviews from their previous customers.
Let’s also look into what kinds of questions you should ask and the completion time you can expect from the service provider.
Questions to ask
- Can I schedule a specific time for delivery?
- Does my customer have to be present to accept his/her delivery?
- How can I and my customer track the shipment?
- Can you deliver at evenings and weekends? Is there an additional cost?
- Do you include product assembly?
- Is there an extra charge for cleaning up after the installation?
Figure out if the answers to these questions satisfy you and your customer’s expectations and, hopefully, the service provider you choose would actually deliver on their answers.
Even if white glove service can be as fast as an expedited shipping option, factors that affect delivery speed (distance, customs clearance, international borders, etc) also come into play. This is important to consider because the longer the item is in transit, the more likely it’s going to be damaged.
The whole process also usually depends on how many services are required to fully implement the item on its intended location. An item that has more moving parts and also requires site inspection and preparation will take more time than a simpler item that can be installed immediately.
What types of products need White Glove Services?
Certain products need white glove shipping because these will almost always break when not handled correctly. Let’s look at what these items are so you know if white glove services are needed for your business.
Electronics and appliances
People nowadays buy their electronics online, namely laptops, smartphones, cameras, tablets, and desktop computer parts. They can also buy appliances online such as refrigerators, ovens, and washing machines.
A lot of these items contain electronic parts that can easily break from very strong impact. Some home appliances like dishwashers and ranges are also heavy and would need more than one person to install at home.
Tables, shelves, and couches can also be bought online and these tend to come unassembled to the customer. Not to mention that these are usually big and heavy and would need more than one person to safely install.
Medical and lab equipment
These kinds of equipment also contain electronic parts and are usually very expensive because of their complexity and sensitivity. Items such as x-ray machines, ultrasound machines, CT scanners, microscopes, medical-grade glassware, and many other medical equipment require precise handling especially during installation.
Buyers of luxury goods usually expect great service even up until the item is delivered. No matter how small it may be, they expect the item to be delivered on-time and in pristine condition.
How much does it cost?
The cost of white glove shipping would depend on several factors, which include:
- Distance: The cost is usually higher for farther destinations, and it also considers if the cargo crosses international borders.
- Delivery speed: White glove shipping can be as fast as expedited shipping because it is usually a single shipment, but white glove services can also be attached to standard shipping.
- Nature of the product: The dimensional weight, size, perishability, and value of the packaged item all count when determining the cost.
- Special transport requirements: If a shipment needs specialized equipment or temperature and humidity controlled transport, these can add up to the cost.
What is Inside Delivery?
Inside delivery is an accessorial service that directly delivers the shipment to the customer’s doorstep, which can either be a residential home or a commercial facility.
Inside delivery to a residence
For inside delivery to residences, the carrier usually drops the freight at the homeowner’s porch, driveway, or garage only.
The driver himself can’t move the freight inside, which is usually done to avoid complaints like damaged walls or mud stains. There are also liability concerns if an accident happens indoors. It’s important to remember these details in order to avoid delays and possible redeliveries.
Inside delivery to a business
For inside delivery to businesses, the carrier usually leaves the cargo a few feet past the facility’s entrance. If the freight needs to be brought up to a higher floor or moved further inside, the delivery charge will increase.
And if the freight is bigger or wider than the doorway, the driver will not bring it inside nor separate it into smaller parts. He also can’t deliver the freight further inside if it is unsafe for their equipment (e.g. going up steep stairs, through narrow hallways). It’s important to account for these situations in order to minimize last-minute charges by your carrier.
What are its benefit/s?
Better customer retention
This is the biggest benefit inside delivery offers because customers nowadays expect online stores to take care of their order until it arrives to them. Although it may be a small addition to an online purchase, they notice the level of customer service — which can determine if they will buy from you again or not.
If your business supplies to other businesses, the same can be said as well. This small additional service you do for them stands out because large shipments of supplies often take considerable time and energy to move.
How much does it cost?
Inside delivery is usually an additional service on top of LTL shipping and each carrier will price it differently.
To get the most accurate quote, clearly state the accurate location for the drop-off point as well as any area of concern in getting there.
Should I choose White Glove Service or Inside Delivery?
Now that you’re familiar with both White Glove Services and Inside Delivery, there may be distinct scenarios where one is simply better than the other. These scenarios are:
- If you’re selling fragile, heavy, or high-value items such as furniture, luxury goods, or medical equipment, go with white glove service.
- If your customers prefer that the item is installed professionally, go with white glove service.
- If you’re supplying to businesses and often send large quantities, go with inside delivery.
- If you’re selling goods that are sensitive to the elements (e.g. rain, sunlight) but don’t need to be installed, go with inside delivery.