What is White Glove Delivery?

Learn about the extra layer of service that characterizes "white glove" delivery and why you probably won't need to consider it for your small eCommerce business
what is white glove delivery
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If your small business is getting into eCommerce—particularly in the space of delivering high-end or luxury goods—chances are you’ve heard of the term white glove delivery. This guide is all about what this service is, how it differs from standard delivery, and provides some context on whether or not you should consider paying for it as part of your business.

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What’s Behind the Name “White Glove” Delivery?

Often thought of as a bespoke or custom offering, “white glove” refers to an added level of service that goes above and beyond the expectations of normal parcel delivery. Transportation and delivery workers don’t actually wear white gloves when delivering products; the name is more of a figurative rather than a literal description.

The origins of the name can be traced back to the white gloves worn by butlers in classic English households. In that sense, “white glove” connects the idea of “specialized” or “custom” service to the level of personal, extra-mile attention that a butler would provide. In terms of shipping and logistics, think of it as providing extra care or going the extra mile to ensure that products reach their destination safely and are unpacked, assembled, and/or installed properly.

How White Glove Differs from Standard Delivery

The standard shipping process involves getting your products from the point of origin to their final destination. Before then, you package your items and hand them off to a shipping carrier of your choice. For package transport from Point A to Point B, almost all eCommerce businesses choose major carriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx. Other businesses rely on regional carriers, such as OnTrac, GSO, and LaserShip, to name a few. However, none of these carriers offer white glove service. Since most direct-to-consumer products come in handheld boxes, most eCommerce businesses don’t need this service, anyway.

The Difference Between White Glove and Last-Mile Delivery

A lot of people confuse white glove with last-mile delivery, and while they’re similar, they don’t refer to the same thing. Last-mile delivery refers to the transportation of products to their final destination, no more and no less. USPS often handles the last-mile delivery for packages in its own network, as well as for other packages from UPS, FedEx, and other carriers. That’s where last-mile delivery is different; USPS won’t ever go as far as unpacking and assembling products during the delivery process.

At the end of the day, providing “white glove” service refers to doing more on top of simply dropping off a package to ensure that products are functional or assembled after they reach their final destination.

Deciding Whether Your Business Should Offer White Glove Service

While white glove service isn’t too common in the world of eCommerce, deciding whether or not to offer it depends on the products you’re sending. It’s more commonly used in the delivery of high-end products or luxury pieces that require extra care and special handling.

Who Needs White Glove Service?

Here are some examples of businesses where white glove service is relatively common:

  • Shipping furniture (high-end furniture delivery and/or assembly)
  • Installing electronics after delivery, such as oversized TVs
  • Transporting and hanging expensive artwork
  • Transporting materials used for building or remodeling real estate properties
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