How to deal with shipping delays blog header

How to Deal With Shipping Delays9 min read

Shipping delays are inevitable even with the most efficient carriers (thanks to the growing consumer demand). And when they happen, they tend to drive your customers away.

That’s not all! The worst part about them is the harsh fact that you do not have control over such events and often feel helpless when they happen. 

Worry not! Dealing with shipping delays is no rocket science but first, we’ll bust a few delay-related myths along the way to make it easier for you. 

Let’s start with myth #1 — delays are rare and uncommon.

Shipping delays are more common than you think
The real cost of shipping delays
What you can do about shipping delays

Shipping Delays are More Common Than You Think

One of the main reasons why brands overlook delays is the assumption that delays occur just once in a while and pose no threat to their business. On the contrary, shipping delays are more common than we believe. 

On average, anywhere between 6% and 12% of shipments are usually delayed regardless of carrier. This increases to over 30% during times when service congestion is high such as during the recent supply chain crisis and the holiday season.

Estimates from the State of Holiday Shipping report from predicted that between 16% to 20% of packages shipped with UPS and FedEx will not arrive on time during the 2021 holiday season. 

Apart from the probability of delays, another unwilling mistake that online retailers often make is leaving out the delivery experience to the shipping carrier. This leads them and us to myth #2 customers blame the shipping carrier for delays.

The Real Cost of Shipping Delays

Now that you know how often shipping carriers perform below expectations, the next logical step is to recognize how this has been affecting your business.

You’ve of course experienced the sting of shipping delays, but it makes sense to take a look at how delays can be problematic to retailers like you in terms of rocketing shipping costs.  

Firstly, it is wise to realize that the customer assumes the onus of their parcels (even after you’ve handed them off to the shipping carrier) is on you, the retailer. This makes your customers instantly blame you when something goes wrong in the delivery process. 

Secondly, you might as well need to understand that every instance of a shipping delay costs you heavily, maybe even more than you might have noticed. The real cost of late deliveries have a direct impact on your reputation, customer loyalty, and bottom line.

Last but not the least, here are some facts to defend our statement.

The impact of late deliveries on key customer satisfaction metrics

It’s obvious a customer who’s experienced a delay in receiving their parcel is less likely to buy from you again. You end up losing them, forever. Sure, claiming shipping refunds from your carrier for deficient service is great but keep in mind that it cannot compensate for a bad delivery experience faced by your customer.

A lost customer is an ultimate tragedy for your business because you can no longer count on any repeat business or positive reviews from them. You end up losing out in a big way. Your brand’s value is eroded. And remember, even one prominent bad review on a social channel can turn away hundreds of potential buyers.

Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with the impact of frequent shipping delays on your business, let’s go back to the basics a bit to understand myth #3 – delays occur only due to service failures by shipping carriers.

Why Do Shipping Delays Occur

Shipping delays occur on a daily basis and it is somewhat true that they largely happen because of shipping carriers failing to keep up with their promises of on-time delivery despite their busy schedules. 

But that’s not the only reason why parcels take time to reach their destination. Here are some of the other reasons why delays happen in the first place. 

  • Transit confusions due to human error
  • Delivery exceptions such as failed deliveries
  • Poor warehouse management
  • Lack of coordination among the people involved
  • Customs issues (for international shipments)
  • Shipping carriers operating beyond peak thresholds such as during supply chain disruptions or the holiday season
  • Acts of God such as sudden weather changes or natural calamities 

That brings us to the last and final myth #4 – delays are unavoidable.

What You Can Do About Shipping Delays (You Have the Power)

Another common misconception about delays is that they’re unavoidable. While they happen unexpectedly, their impact, however, surely can be mitigated to a great extent. With the right measures, you can make sure that delays are no longer a frustration for your customers.

There are a whole lot of things you can do to avoid late deliveries from happening.

1. Communicate with The Customer

Delivered with delays

Firstly, it’s incredibly important that you communicate with your customer. The last thing a customer would want to see is that their parcel has been delayed, and there’s no communication from the shipper.

Make the effort to get in touch with the customer and let them know of the status of the parcel. Apologize if you should. Explain the situation to them.

2. Use an Automated Auditing Service to Hold Carriers Accountable

Audit your DHL, FedEx and UPS invoices and claim shipping refunds for delays and more

One especially effective way to ensure you get the time-bound service you deserve is by performing audits on the invoices of your shipping carrier.

The fact is, most shipping carriers guarantee refunds if deliveries are delayed because of errors on their part. Some, like UPS and FedEx, promise refunds even if the delay is only a minute.

But they make their claim forms hard to fill, and they provide a limited window of time within which claims must be filed.

You need to have a system in place to audit your shipping carrier and get refunded every time they mess up.

Conducting manual audits within your organization can be expensive and cumbersome. Thankfully, an automated service that is cost-effective can make things easy.

3. Track Your Shipments in Real-Time

Real-time tracking and categorizing failed deliveries

Here’s a killer tip for you. Sign up for a service that will help you track your shipments in real-time . This will give you more control over the shipping process and allow you to respond to delays preemptively. 

When you notice a delay at any point during a shipment’s journey, you could take some form of action: either send a replacement parcel via a faster mode or inform the customer about the delay before they discover it.

4. Take Ownership of the Situation

In-transit with delays SMS Shipping notifications

This is probably easier said than done, but make sure you own up and face the ire of the customer if it comes to that. There’s no way you can skirt the issue.

Facing the situation and trying your best to tackle it will actually show you in a good light and help make the most of a difficult situation. 

The important thing is that you must be seen to be working for the customer to trust that you have their best intentions at heart.

5. Provide the Customer with Some Decision-Making Power

The customer will be calmer if they feel they have some degree of control over the situation. 

Provide them with options and allow them to make some decisions to help remedy the situation.

You taking this course of action will show your business in a positive light and serve as proof of your customer-centric approach.

6. Offer Special Deals

Another effective step you can take is to send special deals the customer’s way. This will serve as a great step toward pacifying their angst and also make them feel valued.

For instance, you could provide them with special discounts on their next purchase to motivate them.

7. Beware of Same-Day Delivery Promises

Some businesses tend to over-promise. Delivering the same day an order is placed is becoming a fad of sorts within the retail community, but it comes with its risks.

When a customer chooses the option to have their product delivered the same day, that is exactly what they expect. Any shipping delay will be met with fury. So, be careful when you make any promise to deliver on the same day an order is placed.

An approach you could take is to provide the same day delivery option only to customers who wish to receive delivery within a certain distance of your warehouse.

8. Consider Using Multiple Carriers

If shipping delays are a regular occurrence with your carrier, using multiple carriers for different delivery requirements may well be the way to go. This, of course, will require some research on your part to identify the expertise of each carrier.

For instance, you could use one carrier for domestic parcels and another one for cross-border parcels. This could possibly save you a lot of stress.

How Can Help You Deal with Shipping Delays is specifically built for e-commerce retailers such as yourself to deliver phenomenal post-purchase CX and measurable results, all while effortlessly recovering refund claims from your shipping carriers.

The post-purchase phase is a goldmine for brands that ship. However, carrier errors and customer anxiety while awaiting the parcels are inevitable. 

But what if you could take control of it and turn customer anxiety into fierce loyalty by delivering stunning experiences post-purchase and ensuring that you are rightfully compensated for carriers’ mistakes via refunds? 

That’s exactly what our cloud solution can help you with. 

That’s all from us for now. It’s now your turn to grow your fanbase, savings, and business with We’re ready when you are.

Or still have questions? We’re all ears.

Rohan Rinaldo Felix

I've traditionally been a poem-writer, but poems don't pay. I eat cereal for breakfast, but only sometimes. I eat insults for lunch and convert them into renewable energy.

Sashank Ravindranath

A writer by passion, currently exploring creativity by writing new forms of content. Enjoys weekends by watching or reading Sci-fi/ Superhero/ Thriller stuff.