The History of Courier Services

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Courier services assist individuals and businesses in the transport of important packages, documents and other items. They are known for expedited tracking and delivering items securely. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is considered the largest in the mail industry in the United States. They are often in direct competition with large, independent services such as the United Parcel Service (UPS). 

Couriers have been in business for centuries. In the beginning, couriers were messengers that delivered mail and telegrams by bicycle, horse or foot. The earliest service of its kind is the United Parcel Services or UPS and was founded in 1908. Right around the turn of the century, shipping items from one location to another became an increased necessity for businesses. Not until the 1970s did the desire for international shipping lead to the formation of other courier companies like FedEx. Today's leading couriers used a sophisticated system to deliver items all over the world in an efficient manner. 

UPS and Fedex offer an alternative service to customers that is different from the government-operated postal service. While couriers typically cost more than the USPS, they compete directly with mail delivery times, often resulting in getting packages to their destinations faster. Both competing couriers have similar options for securely tacking items and obtaining signatures upon arrival. 

Courier services can be big business for UPS, DHL or even local companies. Local couriers operate in one municipality or a particular city. Smaller couriers usually deliver items by motorcycle, scooter or bicycle. They also must plan out their delivery routes based on road construction, traffic patterns and bus routes. Local couriers tend to bring in high business volume in big cities like New York and Chicago. Large companies and law firms often need packages and documents delivered around town, often on the same day. In addition, companies that do not want to invest in their own delivery staff, also save money by eliminating the need for vehicles, insurance and wages for drivers. Rather, every document that must be in the hands of a client in-town by the end of the day can be assembled, packaged and delivered via a reliable courier. 

Some large courier services operate exclusively on an international level. For example, DHL, a German-based company ended their domestic U.S. shipping in 2009 to focus solely on their international services. Couriers like DHL have strategically placed hubs around the globe to track and transport goods by automobile, train and plane. UPS still remains the largest courier for both domestic and international shipping, boasting a worth of $49.7 billion as 2011. 

The use of computers, faxing, Internet and email have all had a negative impact on the courier business over the decades. This is particular true of the relationship between small, local couriers and business owners. At this point in time, small couriers rely on the fact that there are still large items that simply can't be emailed or faxed. As the world continues to operate in an globalized world, the future seems increasingly bright for larger courier services.

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Pete Crawford has 312 articles online

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The History of Courier Services

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This article was published on 2012/05/08