The Courier Exchange
Is CX still the best in the business?
Table of Contents
Introduction to CX
The Courier Exchange (aka CX for short) claims to be “the premier trade-only freight exchange for courier jobs”. In this review I find out if that’s true from my experience of the using the system during 2021.
It’s well known throughout the industry that CX (as it’s known to many) is the current leader in available delivery work. Most of the UK’s larger courier companies are on here and their overflow work typically gets posted here first. The platform has been a clear leader in this industry for a number of years now and it shows through the scale of their software and app development.
What it's like to use & important features
As soon as you log into your account portal on the desktop website you are plunged into pages of information.
Details about your business, a page for loads, accounting info. You can define where you are, where you want to source work, your fleet (if you have one) and much more. All of this is great if you love information. And if you have time to sit and browse. And when you need to collate all your invoices and check who’s paid etc.
The ‘LOADS’ page is most important if you’re sat at home and trying to plan the next day or a specific route. It features plenty of filters and sorting controls. These allow you to match your vehicle to the most appropriate loads.
From there on you can either call or enter an electronic quote for the jobs. If successful, the seller books the job through to you and off you go.
Just looking for extra delivery work? Stick to the App
If you’re just looking to work as a driver, the app is better. The loads are there, search and bid, win and go. That’s how simple it should be.
The problem I’ve found is that the limitation to the app is that you can’t post/sell a job on Courier Exchange if you need someone to cover your own work – if you need to do that you have to head back into the website, which is almost impossible to use on a mobile. You’ll need at least a Tablet or Laptop.
Most of the most important features that you will need as a driver are also in the CX Mobile App. This is an essential addition for life out on the road. You bid for work, and can log and report every stage of your bookings back to the office that assigned the load.
Your vehicle can be tracked in real time and this helps match you with loads available wherever you find yourself once empty again.
Networking and partnerships
One thing that can make-or-break any small business is the connections you make along the way. And that goes for transport too. Networking with other companies and drivers will serve you well in the long run, and not just when you’re a member of exchange platforms.
A way to make better use of this platform is to get to know the main players and the best drivers and stay in contact.
When people learn you’re good at what you do (and trustworthy), they will keep in touch. The huge member directory for CX is like a dedicated ‘Yellow Pages’ of the Who’s Who in transport. I don’t know the exact numbers, but at any one time I think there are over 6,000 members
It’s also a way to find out who NOT to trust as well, because word gets around when there are unscrupulous members on the loose.
CX Mobile App
There’s an App for everything these days. But not all of them are good.
Luckily the Exchange app is good enough for the job it needs to do. It’s not perfect, and there are a few annoying issues with it sometimes.
A recent one is the repetitive message that appears to notify you about tracking.
I can’t tell you what it says because I stopped reading it – and that’s part of the problem. It was so infuriating that myself (and others I’ve spoken to) just ignored it.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but there are a lot of areas the app doesn’t appeal to me.
It seems like they were in a rush to create it and just made sure the primary functions worked fine, then couldn’t be bothered to finesse the process. Little issues with form layouts and buttons in weird areas can get be a pain, but it’s not a major issue.
If you line up this app against others in the industry though, it’s definitely one of the better efforts. That’s not saying a lot though, as some as truly awful.
Video: Top 5 Reasons to Join Courier Exchange
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Video: Courier Exchange Official User Guide
Video: Top 5 Reasons to NOT Join Courier Exchange
Owner-Driver package of £99.95 per month + VAT is the cheapest price available to join CX and still far more expensive than any other platform. Company packages are even more expensive (see pricing information below).
When the load levels are high, then the cost doesn’t seem that bad because you know you’re earning it back. But just wait till the quiet times in Q1 and Q3 – that’s when the burden of high membership fees really bites.
People near big cities will fair okay throughout most of the year, but anyone more than 40 miles from a city will probably notice this hit them in the pocket.
Monthly Cost Breakdown (*Accounts are billed annually, basic fees shown without extras sourced from website Q4 2021)
Owner-Driver: £99.99 + VAT | £1,199.00 + VAT | £1,439.86 inc VAT
Pro: £189.99 + VAT | £2,279.88 + VAT | £2,735.86 inc VAT
Premium: £209.99 + VAT | £2,519.88 + VAT | £3,023.86 inc VAT
All new accounts also have to pay an ‘accreditation fee’ of £149 + VAT.
The fact that the logistics industry has been shouting about not having enough drivers should be no surprise that more loads have filtered down to courier vehicles. Which means the Exchange has had a good last quarter for loads available for bidding.
We have tracked load volumes on the platform using a set method throughout 2021, and throughout December saw average available loads around the 5,000-6,000 live loads per weekday across mainland UK.
This doesn’t include direct bookings, just loads posted to the board available for bidding on. Expect a drop in that between Jan-March 2022.
I’m not sure how TEG record their data to make a claim of ‘over 170,000 loads listed per month’ because my tests didn’t even get close to that. I expect that they are also counting direct bookings, but still seems optimistic to me.
At peak season I recorded around 120,000/month, far less at other points in the year. Still very good compared to other platforms.
Facilities & Benefits
CX Does have the best app and website package available in this industry, currently. The trouble is though that much of it is great for the big companies, but perhaps overkill for owner-drivers. For many at the bottom level it doesn’t need so much bloat, and there are new challengers who are about to prove that in 2022. I also think the over-engineering they do causes most of the platforms stability issues.
You do get access to 3rd party services (just like here at CTV!) and each year there are usually some events and awards ceremonies where everyone gives themselves a pat on the back. If you like that sort of thing then it’s a nice little plus point for being a member.
Credibility & Risk Factor
The whole point of work-exchange platforms like this is to trade loads with other people. You can do work for another company, sometimes someone will work for you. But it’s a matter of who you can trust. Which drivers are going to co-load without permission? Which companies might fail to pay? The feedback system only protects you a small amount, and in my experience there are issues with too many ‘dodgy operators’. It’s a tough problem to fix though and not really the fault of TEG. People will always find a way to bend (and break) the rules.
Couriers TV Final Rating: The Courier Exchange: 3 / 5
- High volumes of work compared to most other sites
- Powerful website and App package with lots of features
- Most of the UK’s leading courier companies use it
- Lots of competing drivers means rates can suffer.
- Frequent system glitches during busy periods are frustrating.
- Can be expensive at quiet periods, especially if you’re based in a quiet location.
CX has been the leader in this field for a few years now, and probably will be for another 12-24 months at least. It has the most users and the most jobs posted per day.
If you’re a new driver starting out or an established business looking for extra loads, then this is your strongest chance of finding more work, but you’ll need to be quick and win as much work as you can to make it worthwhile.
2022 is going to see new challengers changing the way this market operates and I honestly believe this service will have to adapt to stay relevant.
Right now with the high membership fees it’s putting the squeeze on those with the least money, the owner drivers.
Do I think the Courier Exchange is worth joining? Yes, but only if you live in a busy area (such as a major city like Manchester, London or Birmingham). There’s work available, but it’s up to you to try and win it.
Otherwise it will be another expense adding to your monthly outgoings.
And on the subject of expense. The fees are really the big issue here.
It feels like TEG (Transport Exchange Group) are almost trying to price the drivers off the system, which doesn’t make sense to me.
Maybe they’re hoping that the higher fees will put the bad operators off joining? Platforms like this need to balance supply and demand. If there are fewer drivers, how will the companies get their jobs covered?
The only other issue have with CX is the lack of real control they have over people misusing the platform. From co-loaders to ‘secret subbies’, there are (in my experience) a lot of people getting away with breaking the rules.
This often just ends up hitting the smaller businesses hardest when things go wrong – such as late/non-payment, damaged goods and late deliveries.
So – do I recommend joining The Courier Exchange? If you are based in near a city, have good experience and are ready to get to work, then yes – you can probably increase your earnings here. But if you’re new to the game or live in the sticks, you’re going to have to make a real effort to offset those membership fees.