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Courier Forwarders Showdown - Aramex's Shop&Ship Vs. Qatar Post's Connected.qa Vs. DHL's DHLEasyShop

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

Introduction

If you would just like to watch a short video on this topic then watch my Youtube video (shown below), where I give a quick rundown on the 3 courier forwarders namely Qatar Post's Connected.qa, Aramex's ShopandShip.com, and DHL's DHLEasyShop.com. While Connected.qa is only for Qatar's residents, while Shop&Ship and DHLEasyShop is available for residents of many other countries

For more detailed information continue reading below.

 

What is a Courier Forwarding Service?

Well in simple terms, it's a service provided by a company that allows for its customers to use their warehouses to ship their package to, then they (courier forwarder) ship it (usually internationally) to the customer's doorstep.

 

Why do we require a Courier Forwarding Service?

In many cases, sellers have very high international shipping charges or they are unable to ship their products internationally. In such cases, you can provide them with the shipping address of the courier forwarder, which is closest to the seller, hence, drastically reducing the shipping costs (sometimes even free). Then the courier forwarder ships the package to you at a more nominal shipping cost.

 

What are the two common types of Courier Forwarders?

Well, one could break down such courier forwarders broadly into two main types:

  1. Online-based

  2. Courier/Postal based

The commonalities between them are that both have warehouses to which you send the packages, then they will process the package and ship it internationally to you after you make payment of shipping costs.

The main difference would be that the Online-based courier forwarders will either let you select the courier company or make the decision for you which courier company to go with when shipping the package to you. While Courier/Postal based courier forwarder will use their parent courier company resources to ship your package to you.


Some online-based courier forwarders are USaddress.com, Stackry.com, fishitfast.com, and many more. While the Courier/Postal based ones we will be discussing more in detail below.


Both have their pros and cons, however, the Courier/Postal ones are more trustworthy as they are more vertically integrated, meaning they use their parent company resources to ship the package, therefore in cases where the package is lost/damaged (rare possibility of it happening) it is much easier to claim for refund/compensation and even easier to handle returns to some extent.


Due to this above fact, I would always suggest going with such Courier/Postal based courier forwarders rather than the online-based, for that extra bit of peace of mind.

 

How does Courier Forwarding work?

Let's break it down into the following steps:

  • Register/Sign-up with the courier forwarding service

Depending on the courier forwarder, it might require a one-time sign-up fee or a recurring annual fee

  • Obtain a list of warehouses and their addresses with the unique identification code that goes with this address.

This ensures the package received by them is quickly identified as your package and then do the necessary updates to the system. Example: Usual format of address to a warehouse with your identification is as follows:

Name: John Doe

Address 1: 7XXX-XXX2 DHL EasyShop QA

DHL Panasonic, Gowerton Road

Address 2: Brackmills

City: Northampton

Postcode: NN4 7BW

County: Northamptonshire

Country: United Kingdom

Tel: +447971756004

  • Ship your package with shipping details as given by your courier forwarder (like above).

On delivery of the package to the warehouse, they will identify the package based on the unique identification code in the shipping information and then they will upload the details of the package to your account on their website.

  • Pay for the shipping costs to initiate the shipping process.

Optional - you could wait for other packages to be received by the warehouse then consolidate the packages together (if allowed by the courier forwarder) then pay to reduce overall shipping costs. Exception - in Shop&Ship's case the package is processed without payment of shipping fees.

  • Receive your package at your door.

You can track the status of the package once they ship it from their warehouse and receive notification on the day of delivery of the package to you. Exception - in Shop&Ship's case the package needs to be collected at one of their collection centres.

 

Aramex's Shop&Ship.com

Aramex is one of the well-known international courier companies. They have their headquarters in Dubai, UAE. In 2013 they started Shop&Ship to cater to the residents in UAE who wished to shop online from the US stores. Later they expanded their services to the rest of the middle east and now expanded their service to over 50 countries around the world.


Features

There are two (2) Plans when signing up for Shop&Shop services, S&S Basic and S&S Flex. S&S Basic is as the name suggests the basic plan which has a one-time sign-up fee of 45 USD, while the S&S Flex Plan has an annual recurring fee of 45USD. S&S has over 30 warehouses placed at strategic locations all over the world, so no matter from which country you purchase your item, S&S will have a warehouse nearby, to which your seller can ship your package.


Here's a quick comparison between the two plans:- UPDATE: S&S Basic is now "Free" and S&S Flex is now only 21USD Annual (as of 1st Nov 2021)

If you happen to choose the S&S Flex Plan you can save a lot on shipping as shipping costs are calculated per 100g (rather than 500g) and you save extra on shipments over 3Kgs. In addition, if you like to shop for volatile liquids like perfumes, nail polish, nail paint etc, you save 20% on the extra charges levied on them. Therefore, the S&S Flex plan is advantageous for people that do a lot of online shopping internationally.


However, one important feature missing from both S&S plans (that is available with the other 2 services we will talk about) is the inability to consolidate your packages. This results in you paying for every single package arriving at their warehouse independently, therefore this in theory results in overall higher costs if you are purchasing many items that are delivered to S&S's warehouses at different times.

 

Qatar Post's Connected.qa

Qatar Post is the national provider of postal services across Qatar. To combat the monopoly that Aramex's Shop&Ship had in this sector, Qatar Post developed their courier forwarding services that solely caters to the residents of Qatar. Connected.qa has currently 5 warehouses USA, UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore to which you can ship your packages.


Features

The main features of Connected.qa are that Sign-up is FREE and its low shipping costs. However, the base charge (fixed amount) and the weight charge rate (per 100g) differs based on the warehouse/location you have the package delivered to. E.g. see the images below

Connected.qa allows its customers to consolidate (group) the packages so that the Base Charge is calculated once, hence reducing shipping cost when you ship 2 or more packages together from the same warehouse.

 

DHL's DHLEasyShop.com

DHLEasyShop arguably could be the oldest forwarder among the three. However, they are possibly the slowest to expand their warehouses and locations. It seems to have started this service for the residents of Bahrain in 2008. They have now expanded to 5 more countries in this region, namely, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and finally Qatar. However, they only have two (2) warehouses around the world, one in the US and the other in the UK.


Features

DHLEasyShop also has Free Sign-up. In addition, it has arguably the best Package handling and customer service. The shipping costs are calculated based on the warehouse and per 500g of the package. However, the rates are slightly lower than Shop&Ship Basic Plan.


The highlight feature which I like the most about DHLEasyShop is that they are extremely quick in identifying and registering the package into your account once they receive the package from the seller. They even upload pics of the package (sometimes even open the outer brown box to show the contents), this relieves a lot of anxiety where you are unsure if the package has reached them or that has the seller sent over the actual product.

 

Comparison and Ratings

Here is how I have rated these services. The justifications/explanation for the ratings is given below under each section.


1: Registration Costs

For both Connected.qa and DHLEasyShop there is no registration or sign-up fees neither do they have a different plan for some exclusive features or reduced shipping costs. However, Aramex's Shop&Ship requires a minimum payment of 45USD for the S&S Basic Plan or an annual payment of 45 USD for the S&S Flex Plan. These details are as explained above.


2: Website and Ease of Use

Shop&Ship is the more mature website, what I mean by this is that the website is not only easy on the eye but also very intuitive. Their website is very easy to get up to speed and use the features and steps involved in shipping your package.

DHLEasyShop comes in a close second, though their website is very basic and not modern, however, it's simple to use.

Connected's website is quite an eye-catching and modern looking website, but it gives you false confidence in its ease of use. The process of initiating the steps involving shipping your package, performing the payment then finally tracking your package is simply a head-scratcher. You will have to go through a couple of trials and errors to finally understand how all of it is done.


3: Shipping Costs (estimated)

In Shop&Ship (S&S) the shipping costs vary based on the "Plan" you have chosen. In the S&S-Basic plan, the shipping costs are mainly calculated based on per 500g of the package being shipped, while in the S&S-Flex plan it's per 100g. In addition, you save on special charges on volatile liquids like perfumes being sent via this plan. Therefore S&S-Flex is better in many aspects however you do have to pay the annual 45USD fee. However, S&S does not allow for consolidating/grouping of packages, as they send out the package as soon as they have processed it in their warehouse, there is no holding period. Therefore it's best for you to ensure that the items purchased arrive together in one box/package. Payment for the shipping charges can be done anytime before receipt of the package.


In DHLEasyShop the shipping costs are calculated per 500g of the package. However, DHLEasyShop allows for its customers to consolidate/group packages, your packages are held for 14 days for free, so within this time frame, you can get your other packages to arrive and ship them all together, hence resulting in lower shipping costs in comparison to S&S-Basic plan. The package is only forwarded after the payment for the shipping charges have been paid for.


While in Connected.qa the shipping costs are calculated per 100g of the package, similar to the S&S-Flex Plan, and the base charge and the rate per 100g differ based on the warehouse you will be shipping from. In addition, unlike S&S, Connected allows for the consolidation of packages, and they will hold on to the package for up to 21 days for free. So adding, both these factors together, Connected ends up having the lowest shipping costs in this group.


4: Package Identification

Package identification is the time taken for the service to identify the package as yours so that you get a confirmation that the package has been received and that they/you may initiate the forwarding process.


Shop&Ship (S&S) identifies and forwards your package usually in 48 hours. S&S does not require payment of shipping charges prior to the package being forwarded.


Connected.qa takes up to two (2) "working" days to identify the package. Yes, you read that right, two (2) working days, so if your package happened to reach on Thursday or Friday, it's likely you wouldn't know if the package has been received, until Sunday/Monday or even Tuesday. This does cause a lot of stress.


DHLEasyshop mentions waiting for 1 working day to identify the package. However, in my experience with them, they are pretty quick, within a couple of hours they have the package identified and they upload pictures (see below). Making it the most stress-free experience among the three.


5: Tracking

Now once the package gets shipped from the warehouse, each of these forwarders provides tracking information in their own way.

Shop&Ship tracking is linked with their parent company ARAMEX tracking system. However, the tracking is a bit of a hit and miss. They show it in the air (on a flight travelling to its destination) but it takes days to reach the destination country, they do not show any information regarding any stop-overs or transits the package had, even if you call customer service to ask why the package seems to be in the air for over 3 days their reply would be it's on the way, so just wait for it.


Connected.qa is another show of a poor tracking system. The tracking is pretty basic, the only information you get once it's shipped is a "Status" field where it shows pretty rudimentary statements like "shipped out", "arrived at destination country", etc.


DHLEasyShop tracking uses the tracking system just like a normal DHL Courier, like how Shop&Ship uses ARAMEX. However, DHL's tracking system is lightyears ahead of what you get with its competition. The tracking is very detailed, you get all the information like every stop it had, or if it had to stay a bit longer somewhere etc.


6: Delivery Speed

Shop&Ship though seems better in delivery speed with their expected delivery date, they do take their merry time to process, ship out, and finally reach their destination. On top of that, they DO NOT deliver to your doorstep. You have to physically go to one of their collection centres to collect your package. This is pretty backward, considering both its competition has home delivery at no extra cost.


Connected.qa is pretty slow too. The processing and shipping out of package get all the more delayed if they had received the package and you made the shipping payment either during or a day before the weekend, the package sits in their warehouse until the next working day to get shipped out which further delays everything. However, they do deliver to your doorstep for free.


DHLEasyShop is hands down the fastest in delivering the package once it's shipped out, for certain within a week it will be at your doorstep. For me, however, every time they had delivered the package before their estimated delivery date. In addition, they have the best customer-focused delivery team who are open to adjusting the delivery based on your availability or location.


7: Customer Service

Finally, we have Customer Service.


Shop&Ship has a decent but not great customer service team. The only way you can get in touch with them for an immediate response is by dialling their customer care number. If you are lucky then you will get to talk with someone without a long wait and the information you end up getting from this interaction is pretty menial. However, I "suppose" the S&S-Flex Customers would get preferential treatment and better response.


Connected.qa, from my experience, they have outsourced their customer service to an external call centre. The information they have access to is pretty basic and if the request needs additional info they would raise a ticket and forward the issue/query to their technical team who would either call you (rare) or respond to you via email.


DHLEasyshop customer service on the other hand is simply at another level, other than the normal customer care number, they even have a chat service where an agent responds to you quickly similar to an Amazon customer care chat. I find this most helpful, and the easiest for most people who would rather chat than talk to the other person. They are pretty quick to respond and also quite knowledgeable about their services. My interactions with them were quite pleasing and I ended up getting all the information I needed.

 

Overall Results

Tallying them, you see that DHLEasyShop wins this showdown with a whopping score of 28 out of 30 and even scores high at areas where it really matters most.


Shop&Ship Flex Plan comes in a close second. Aramex should really work on improving their courier system and customer service if they have to even come close to claim that they are the best in the business. Yes, they do have warehouses all over the world, however, most of these warehouses rarely do matter for most. And, seriously Aramex you should have the S&S-Basic plan for Free rather than the need to pay upfront 45 USD for just signing up.


Connected.qa though having the lowest shipping costs at no extra charge, loose out in every other area and fall behind the pack. I get it they are held back by the fact that they are backed by a government postal agency (Qatar Post), but still, they can work towards improving their website, tracking system and speed of delivery. I am pretty sure if they can improve on these areas they would win out over both its competition here in Qatar.

 

My Final Thoughts and Suggestions

Based on my explanations before:

If you want the best stress-free service just go with DHLEasyShop, but it does come at a bit of an extra cost. In addition, DHLEasyShop has my utmost trust when comes down to shipping high-value items.

If you want the lowest shipping costs, then go with Connected. Though they scored the leas in almost everything they do finally deliver the package to you at the lowest shipping charges.


If you want the best of both worlds and are ready for paying an annual subscription fee of 45 USD then go for the S&S-Flex Plan. But in my honest opinion, I find the Flex plan useful for small businesses, or for people who do a lot of international online shopping year after year.


There are many more terms & conditions I haven't covered here in this review. For e.g. the restrictions in shipping loose batteries or products with lithium batteries in them, for all the info and more visit the Help/Support Page of each forwarder.


I hope you had a good read if you did kindly share with your friends on social media and if you have any questions leave a comment below I will get back to you.



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