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In the ecosystem of goods transportation services, courier and logistics are two commonly used terms. Though they are hardly ever used interchangeably, not many are aware of the distinct difference between courier and logistics from a shipping and operational perspective. Let solve that.

Logistics

In India, there are several courier and logistics companies, and they offer distinct services. With changing market and customer needs and competitiveness in supply chain, let’s take a look at the two services offered and their role in enabling faster, safer, and better goods transportation.

What is courier and logistics?

Let us first understand the meaning of logistics and courier, the relationship between them and their role in the entire logistics and supply chain ecosystem.

Courier service meaning

Courier services has been in use since long for both B2C and B2B deliveries. Individuals and businesses, often use courier services to send small packages or documents that are not very heavy. Courier services can be availed for local, domestic and international regions. Couriers are quick and reliable, and delivered directly to the recipient’s shipping address.

Most courier companies offer value-added services such as expedited shipping for same or next day delivery, special packaging such as eco-friendly packaging solutions, and more.

Courier services are usually not the best fit for large and heavy packages considering its pricing structure. Some of the top courier services companies in India are:

  • India Post
  • Blue Dart
  • DTDC
  • First Flight Couriers Ltd.
  • The Professional Couriers

Now that we understand the definition of courier services, let’s understand what are logistics services?

Logistics service meaning

Logistics service on the other hand looks into end-to-end strategy, storage, and movement of goods from the point of origin to destination. A logistics company will be involved in:

Considering the range of services and solutions logistics offer, logistics companies usually work with transporting heavier, larger, and more volume of goods. They may use road, railways, air and waterways for goods transport, often partner with corporates for logistics outsourcing services.

Some of the leading logistics services providers in India are:

  • GATI Limited
  • Delhivery
  • Ble Dart
  • FedEx
  • Allcargo Logistics
  • VRL Logistics Ltd.
  • DTDC
  • Ekart Logistics

As can be understood from the range of courier and logistics services, there are distinct differences between the two types of companies, especially when it comes to courier and logistics tracking, courier and logistics franchise and more. We’ll take a closer look at how they differ in the next section.

What is the difference between courier and logistics?

In this section, let us take a look at how courier and logistics services differ. It’s important to note that a logistics company can provide courier services (e.g., FedEx, DTDC, Blue Dart, etc.), though a courier company will not be able to provide end-to-end logistics services.

Difference between logistics and courier service/company:

Difference based on scope and logistics courier meaning

Logistics services company Courier services company
Scope of logistics is broad involving warehousing, storage, packaging, shipping, delivery. Scope of courier service is narrow involving doorstep delivery of small packages, documents, etc.

Difference based on courier and logistics deliveries

Logistics services company Courier services company
Logistics deliveries involve small and large packages, heavy and light, and bulk shipping. Usually involves small and light weight packages.
Flexible delivery timelines based on the order volume, route, transport, and other factors. Can be same day, next day, or scheduled deliveries (mostly for B2B customers) Focused on quick deliveries – same day, next day, or similar.
Deliveries can be to the end user (e.g., last mile delivery) or to the designated shipping location (e.g., warehouse, distribution centre, retail store, manufacturing unit etc.) Deliveries are usually to the end customer/user, e.g., document couriered to the end recipient.
Uses road, rail, air and water transport for movement of freight. Also relies on logistics centres, state wise Transport Nagars and other facilities as a stopover point. Uses all mode of transport, mainly air and road transport since couriers are usually small packages requiring quick deliveries.

Difference between courier and logistics on goods returns management

Logistics services company Courier services company
Returns management and reverse logistics are key components of logistics processes, e.g., in eCommerce business, reverse logistics or returns pickup, exchange, refunds, are critical to success. Logistics therefore encompass, forward and backward movement of goods. Courier services usually involve forward movement of goods, i.e., delivery of goods. Returns of goods is usually when package is undelivered for different reasons, e.g., package returned to sender because recipient is unavailable.

Logistics vs courier company price and charges

Logistics services company Courier services company
Less expensive and logistics cost is determined based on multiple factors. Wide range of pricing available based on the services availed, e.g., part truckload pricing is less than full truckload, but more than less than truckload. More expensive as services focus on delivery speed. Preferable hence for small packages.
For instance, you can ship with Logistics on Tata nexarc to get the best rates on PTL shipping. We have partnered with leading logistics providers and offer you competitive pricing, on door-to-door shipping, across India.

Try our shipping rate estimator today. Example:

Ship from (pincode) – 560110

Logistics

Ship to (pincode) – 110010

Total weight – 320 kgs

Approximate cost of logistics services (starting at) – ₹3,312

Shipping time – 7 days

Difference in parcel delivery tracking for logistics and courier companies

Whether you ship with a logistics company or a courier company, the parcel delivery tracking status is leveraged by both. This is because most established logistics businesses understand the need to adopt logistics technology for efficiency, security, and reliability. With the right technology in place, vehicles status can be tracked, goods delivery ETA and POD status can be provided in real-time, and more.

The main difference in courier and logistics tracking lies in the level or degree of update provided. For instance:

  • Logistics parcel tracking status update will provide end-to-end details: Arrived at X, Out for Y, Arrived at Y, Left distribution centre Y, Arrived at Z, Delivery agent assigned, Out for Delivery, Delivered
  • Courier parcel tracking status update is comparatively less detailed: Packaged arrived at X, Agent assigned, Out for Delivery, Delivered

Note – In both cases of courier and logistics tracking, there will be Order ID number and Tracking number and/or AWB number provided based on the service provider and nature of service.

Logistics services company Courier services company
Complete view of parcel tracking right from order received to fulfilment. Less detailed view of order.
Real-time tracking status not always available, especially when goods are in-transit over long distances or areas with poor network coverage. For quick, local courier deliveries, real-time tracking available (vendor-specific).

Since courier services are usually availed for documents and small packages, a comprehensive tracking status is usually not available. Logistics however, especially when dealing with large cargo and international shipping, has detailed parcel tracking status available for transparency and compliance.

Starting a courier and logistics franchise

Logistics and courier services are used across all industries. No matter the size of the company, goods require transportation and logistics services. The Indian logistics sector is scaling with an impressive list of logistics startups across the country, offering a wide range of specialised services – e.g., dropshipping, reverse dropshipping.

The government too is introducing new programmes and initiatives to drive growth in the logistics sector – e.g., LEAPS logistics programme, logistics hubs, transport subsidy scheme for commercial vehicles, PM Gati Shakti programme, National Logistics policy, and more.

Whether you want to start a courier or logistics franchise, here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Identify the logistics/courier company you want a franchise for
  • Take all details from the franchise (e.g., office location, services, warehousing and fulfilment centres, vehicles available, pincodes served, etc.) and apply for the franchise
  • Understand the terms and conditions, make the investment required, and get started

Courier vs logistics – What’s right for you business?

At this point, it’s natural for you to question which is the right service for your business – courier or logistics?

We’ve looked at the merits of each and how these services can be used across businesses. However, when you have to decide between availing services from courier or logistics companies, here’s a quick checklist to help you decide:

  • What’s the nature of the goods/freight I am transporting?
  • What will be the frequency of shipments?
  • What are the cost of availing these services?
  • What are the value added services provided?

In a nutshell, courier and logistics companies offer services that can be availed by all. If you have small packages to ship, go for courier services. If, however you have large packages, choose logistics. Remember, logistics is much more than just delivering a package – logistics operations involve the entire gamut of handling material, inventory, storage, packaging, distribution and deliver. Courier, on the other hand manages primarily the delivery of a package.

However, you don’t have to choose any one – you can work with both courier and logistics service providers based on your need.