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Royal Mail services for e-commerce [full guide]

If you’re an e-commerce business looking for the best way to send your products to both UK and international customers, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together a full guide to Royal Mail services to make your decision easier.

Table of Contents

Overview of Royal Mail

Royal Mail has been in operation for over 500 years, since 1516. It’s the longest-standing delivery company in the UK, and still one of the best-regarded. There are many Royal Mail services available for both domestic and international post.

The company operates across the UK, providing both delivery services and mail service, and deliveries are made at least once every day, except Sundays and bank holidays. 

Royal Mail is the preferred delivery service of many UK residents. In a recent study, 52.7% of survey respondents said that Royal Mail was their preferred delivery provider. This was followed by Hermes at 16.1%, and DPD Group at 14.2%.

In 2019, Royal Mail delivered 1.22 billion parcels through its core network. The company also owns Parcelforce Worldwide, through which an additional 99 million parcels were delivered in the same year. Royal Mail facilitated the posting of around 13 billion letters in 2019.

Those statistics make the company a force to be reckoned with! If you’re a business offering deliveries within the United Kingdom, or from the UK to Europe, you’ll want to consider using Royal Mail’s services.

We’ve put together a full guide to Royal Mail’s delivery services for e-commerce, with everything you need to know to decide which service is the right one to offer your customers.

Domestic services

If you’re shipping from within the UK to other destinations also in the UK, you’ll want to use one of these domestic services to send your goods to your customer.

Tracked 24

Tracked24 is a 1-day delivery service offering end-to-end tracking for both you and your customer. It’s great for sending out items quickly, and it offers peace of mind for you as you’ll get free collection and free management reporting. Your customers will also receive a text message or email with the predicted time of delivery, helping them to better plan their day.

There are also options to add:

  • Signature on delivery
  • Safeplace delivery
  • Local collect, where your customer can opt to collect their package from their local Post Office or Customer Service Point
  • Age Verification and ID Verification services

You can use the Royal Mail Tracked24 service if you send over 1,000 items per year using a tracked service.

Tracked 48

As with the Tracked24 service, Tracked48 guarantees a 2-day delivery with end-to-end tracking for both the customer and the sender. It’s ideal for sending orders that will reach your customers quickly.

This 48-hour delivery service offers all the same perks as the 24-hour service – that is, end-to-end tracking for you and your customers, free collection and management reporting, and notification via text message or email of the expected delivery time.

Similar to Tracked 24, this option is good for speedy deliveries that don’t necessarily have a high value, although there is an option for signature on delivery.

Again, as with the 24-hour service, this service is available with a Business Parcels Account. To get a quote, contact Royal Mail with information about how many parcels you expect to send.

Special Delivery Guaranteed

There are two options with the Special Delivery Guaranteed service: next day delivery by 9am for items weighing up to 2kg, or next day delivery by 1pm for items weighing up to 10kg.

This option is perfect for super fast delivery, and includes the following as standard:

  • End-to-end tracking
  • Signature on delivery
  • Guaranteed next day delivery, or you’ll get your money back
  • Notification of delivery time by text message or email

For extra peace of mind, you can also add on the following options:

  • Saturday delivery
  • Compensation cover up to £2,500
  • Consequential loss cover up to a maximum of £10,000
  • Customer collection from a local Post Office or Customer Service Point
  • Age Verification and ID checks to ensure your delivery reaches the right person

You can use this service if you have a Business Parcels Account. To set one up, you must send at least 20 parcels a week.

Royal Mail Sameday

This service provides urgent delivery of parcels that need to go to your customers as soon as possible, with guaranteed same day delivery. The service is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

Sameday delivery comes with the following benefits:

  • Real-time satellite tracking
  • Email delivery confirmation
  • Automatic compensation cover for loss or damage up to £2,500

You can also choose additional options:

  • Sameday On Demand for urgent one-off deliveries at any time of day or night
  • Sameday Scheduled for regular deliveries
  • Additional compensation cover available up to £10,000

You don’t need a Business Account to use this service, but you do need to contact Royal Mail to get a quote based on your location, where you’re sending your package to, and what you need to post.

Royal Mail 24

With this service, the aim is for your package to reach your customer in 24 hours, but tracking isn’t offered. You will, however, receive confirmation of the delivery via email, and you can also choose to add on signature on delivery with Royal Mail Signed For, for extra peace of mind.

The maximum parcel weight you can send with this service is 20kg.

You can use the 24 hour service if you have a Business Parcels account, which you can access if you send a minimum of 1,000 items per year or over 20 parcels a week.

You’re entitled to a discount if you send large volumes of mail, or if you pre-sort your mail before it’s collected by Royal Mail. You’ll also get free collection if you spend £16,500 per year.

Royal Mail 48

The 48 hour service is similar to Royal Mail 24 – but the aim is to deliver your package to your customer within 48 hours. As with the 24 hour service, it doesn’t include parcel tracking, but you can add the option of signature on delivery for extra security.

The restrictions are the same with this service, in that it’s available if you have a Business Parcel Account. However, you can only send parcels up to a maximum weight of 2kg with the 48 hour service.

1st class delivery

For fast, untracked delivery, 1st class is a good option for items up to 20kg. Royal Mail aims to deliver 1st class mail the next day, including Saturdays, but it’s not guaranteed.

You’ll get online delivery confirmation for any parcels sent, and you can add on Signed For delivery for extra peace of mind.

There’s no minimum entry level for this service, meaning you can use it whatever the volume of parcels sent by your business. Prices vary depending on the weight and size of your parcel, and the cheapest way to send your items is by using the Royal Mail’s Click & Drop service.

If you send large volumes of business mail, you may qualify for a discount.

2nd class delivery

This service works in the same way as 1st class delivery, but with the aim of delivering items to your customers in 2-3 working days.

You may send items up to a maximum weight of 1kg via 2nd class delivery.

As with 1st class delivery, you can choose to get a signature from your customer on delivery, for added security.

Whichever method of shipping within the UK you choose, you can integrate your Royal Mail delivery with ShippyPro.

Royal Mail and ShippyPro integration

You can easily keep on top of shipping and tracking your orders, as well as returns, and you can print your Royal Mail labels directly from ShippyPro within seconds.

International services

Does your business ship outside the UK? If you also offer delivery to Europe, then you’ll have to look at different options. Luckily, Royal Mail offer several choices for sending goods to European countries, and we’ve outlined them below:

International Business Tracked & Signed

This service offers worldwide delivery, and allows you to track your delivery every step of the way to offer reassurance for both you and your customer.

The service includes the following benefits:

  • Package tracking
  • Signature on delivery in 47 destinations
  • Free tracked returns for undelivered items
  • Compensation cover up to £100 (with the option to add extra compensation cover up to £300)

You can send parcels up to 2kg in weight to most countries, but for the following destinations, you can send packages of up to 5kg using this service:

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Thailand

To use this service, you must have an International Business Account. To get this, you need to:

  • Spend a minimum of £5,000 each year across International Business services, or
  • Send a minimum of 1,000 Tracked or Signed items per year

International Business Tracked

This service is the same as International Business Tracked and Signed, but without the additional security measure of a signature on delivery of your item. That means it’s a good choice for items with a lower value.

International Business Signed

If you choose this service, your item will be tracked until it leaves the UK, and it’ll be signed-for at the point of delivery. Items are delivered to Europe in 3-5 working days.

You’ll also get:

  • Free returns for undelivered items
  • Compensation cover up to £50 (with the option to add extra cover up to £250)

It’s a good choice for delivering items that aren’t particularly valuable, but as your package is only tracked until it leaves the UK, if you want end-to-end tracking, it’s not the right choice for your business.

The weight limit for this service is parcels of up to 2kg, although you can send printed papers weighing up to 5kg to all countries except Canada and Cambodia.

You’ll need to have an International Business Account to use this service.

International Business Standard Priority

If you have an International Business Account, you can use this service which offers an affordable option for items that don’t need to be tracked. To qualify for an International Business Account, you must spend £5,000 or more a year on international parcel and mail services

It offers delivery from the UK to 231 worldwide destinations, and returns from 28 countries. With this service, you can send parcels of up to 2kg in weight, or printed papers weighing up to 5kg to all countries except Canada and Cambodia.

This service aims to deliver your packages within 3-5 days.

International Business Standard Economy

This option takes longer than the other international delivery options, with a delivery aim of 5-15 days. However, it’s a great option for the delivery of non-urgent mail.

You can send packages to 231 countries across the world, with returns available from 28 countries.

Again, this option is only available if you have an International Business Account.

Royal Mail and ShippyPro integration

How to Add Royal Mail to Your ShippyPro Account

It’s easy to sign up for ShippyPro and connect Royal Mail to your account. 

You can sign up for a free 30-order trial of ShippyPro. Once you’ve done that, you just need to go to Carriers > Connection. Then, click on the Royal Mail icon and enter your Carrier Account Number, API Username and API password. 

Easy! Now you’re ready to start sending orders to your customers using Royal Mail and ShippyPro for simple-to-use shipping.