What’s longer than 165 inches in dimensional weight, has a large size-to-weight ratio or weighs more than 150 pounds? According to many parcel carriers, it’s an oversized good. 

Every carrier has specific metrics for what they consider to be “big and bulky”, “oversized” or “not standard” and that can be bad news for merchants and their customers. That’s because delivering an oversize good often costs more, takes longer to arrive and is subject to all sorts of surcharges, penalties and hassles — and don’t even get us started on returning oversize goods via standard delivery channels.  

Oversize delivery can be a bit of a mystery. It’s hard to promise customers timely receipt and a reasonable rate when you don’t have visibility into that information. Often, merchants give up on offering delivery of oversize items at all, and that means upset customers and missed sales. 

Here are some insights into why oversize delivery is different — and how you can overcome those challenges. Whether it’s a 6-foot ficus, a pair of downhill skis, a settee or something else, it’s possible to skip the pain of oversize delivery and get those big items moving. 

Q: Why do oversize items cost so much more to deliver?

A: The systems set up for parcel delivery depend on standardization and automation to work efficiently. Odd-shaped, heavy, large or otherwise hard-to-palletize items don’t work well with the size and weight limits of conveyors and equipment these systems use. These items take up more space and require more manual handling, and that increases the cost and often delays delivery speed as well.

At peak times, the pressure on those automated systems is even higher. So the cost of bypassing them with precious manual labor goes up, too. That’s why many parcel carriers impose seasonal surcharges in addition to higher delivery rates for oversize items. Recent rate increases by some major parcel carriers are particularly significant for oversize and heavy parcels. 

Q: Why is it so hard to track my oversize item?

A: The same special handling that makes oversize goods delivery more costly and time-consuming also makes it harder to track. 

Because big and bulky items often can’t fit on regular handling equipment, almost every move must be made manually. These items often get diverted to special holding areas and may require more than one handler. All that adds up to extra stops and moves, not all of which include a scan to update tracking systems on its location. So when you log in to find your delivery, the system might offer some pretty vague data instead of the precision you’re used to.  

Q: What happens when an oversize item requires a return?

A: The number of options for collecting returned goods has exploded in recent years — unless those items are big or bulky. Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), returns collection centers, and drop-off locations all require the customer to transport the item, and sometimes also repackage it. That’s not always possible given the dimensions of many oversize goods. 

Most customers want their returns experience to be just as convenient as the purchase process, and that means service to their doorstep. Statista reports that 86% of global consumers look for retailers with easy product return policies when deciding where to make purchases.

Q: Are there other delivery options for oversize? 

A: In addition to parcel delivery, other options for bulky items include LTL (less-than-truckload) services and local delivery carriers. 

LTL service is often reserved for items over 100 pounds, and these deliveries typically require use of a liftgate and packaging such as pallets, crates or bundles. Fees can be better than with parcel delivery, but not by a lot. Typically, residential delivery of LTL items incurs an additional fee. 

Some local businesses also offer residential delivery of big and bulky items. Because of their small scale and limited footprint, it’s important to carefully research their fees and coverage areas. Working with these providers often requires managing multiple small providers, each with different capabilities, requirements and cost structures. It can be difficult for these smaller providers to be cost-competitive.

Crowdsourcing solves the oversize dilemma

The challenges presented by parcel, LTL and local delivery services are a big reason crowdsourced delivery is growing so fast. Crowdsourced delivery taps a ready pool of independent drivers and their personal vehicles to move goods from stores, warehouses or other locations directly to customers, same or next day. 

Roadie’s crowdsourced delivery option, RoadieXL™, solves the hassles of oversize delivery. For example:

Lower costs and faster speed

When you deliver your item using RoadieXL™, your oversize goods move as quickly and cost-effectively as anything else you sell. You don’t even have to package the item. Without unexpected accessorial fees, outrageous dimensional weight costs, and unnecessary extra handling, your oversize delivery moves just like any other item — even same day. If necessary, you can even request that your driver use a dolly or straps as part of the delivery or use a vehicle like a van or SUV. 

Real-time tracking

The difference in delivery visibility between parcel and LTL and RoadieXL™ is like night and day. First, RoadieXL™ allows you to offer customers specific delivery windows, so they already have more clarity and control over the delivery process than you get by tendering a parcel load and hoping for the best.

Then, after the driver picks up the item, you and your customer get real-time live tracking and proof of delivery. Your customer can even communicate directly with the driver, which can be a big plus when the customer wants to prepare in some way to receive the item. A recent survey found a whopping 91% of consumers actively track their packages.

Returns as easy as delivery

When you’re controlling how your oversize item moves point to point, its return journey is as easy and simple as the delivery was. Your customer is more likely to take the plunge and order a large — and often high-margin — item when they feel confident they can send it back easily if it doesn’t work out.

Those are just a few of the reasons crowdsourced delivery makes so much more sense for your oversize goods. Get more insight into how you can take all the pain out of oversize delivery with RoadieXL™.