Bob the Box is seen anticipating delays.

Shipping Delays: What to Expect & What to Do

No one likes waiting around for a package to arrive. Although delayed deliveries can sometimes indicate a poor choice in shipping methods, they can also point to larger issues at hand. 

In this article, we’ll be examining what you can look out for — both internally and externally — as well as how you can mitigate a sticky shipping situation and leave your customers floored (in a good way!) by your stellar service. 

Ready? Let’s begin!

What Causes Delays? 

The real question is: What doesn’t cause delays? In a deeply intertwined global economy, anything and everything can happen. 

Let’s start by breaking delays down into what you can’t control. Here are some examples:

  • Current events (like civil unrest and global pandemics)
  • Freight issues (accidents, traffic, roadblocks, problems with the vehicle itself, etc.)
  • High volume levels (e.g. during the holiday season)
  • Weather conditions (earthquakes, hurricanes, snow, etc.)

In cases like the ones above, all you can really do is hang tight. Fortunately, most customers are understanding of such turbulent circumstances — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go the extra mile with them! More on that in a moment. 

Of course, there are times when delays are (somewhat) preventable, such as:

  • Incorrect order information
  • International customs
  • Lost packages

Slip-ups happen, and it’s totally normal for you, your customers, and shipping carriers to drop the ball here and there. A solid fulfillment strategy is one that double-checks itself along the way. 

For instance, if a customer inputs the wrong address, an order management software with a built-in address verification system will immediately correct that problem. For international paperwork, it would be a wise choice to hand it over to an experienced set of eyes prior to submitting. If a shipping carrier misplaces an order, then a claim must be filed immediately. While these scenarios may not be completely avoidable, staying alert and having a game plan goes a long way.

… And What Can You Do About Them?

Keep Customers in the Loop

You heard it before: Communication is key. Keeping your customers in the dark is a surefire way to build distrust and heighten misunderstandings. 

While it may be uncomfortable and even awkward to break the bad news, it’s a decision you won’t regret. In fact, your customers will likely be appreciative of your honesty and transparency. Update them as events unfold and be sure to offer proper tracking information. 

Nix Shipping Costs and Offer Discounts

Yes, your wallet may experience some minor injuries, but there’s nothing that says “Sorry for the inconvenience!” like, well, free money. 

It’s been shown that retaining customers is both cheaper and more effective than acquiring new ones, which is why it’s imperative to turn their frowns upside down. Even if a delayed delivery is no one’s fault, it makes sense to hold off on charging for shipping. After all, while you may run into some upfront costs, you’ll be building your reputation as a top-notch company and attracting repeat and new buyers in the process. Sweeten the deal with a discount for next time and rest easy knowing you’ve done the best you could to diffuse the situation.

Partnering with a 3PL

If you’ve been itching to outsource, this may be the extra push (or scratch!) you’ve been needing. A qualified fulfillment partner will know their way around domestic and international logistics, which means they’re the perfect backup when things start to go south (even if momentarily). 

Not only will your fulfillment strategy be in tip-top shape as a result of outsourcing, but you’ll also be better prepared to tackle the real-world issues that impact your business, among sundry other benefits.

In uncertain times, it’s almost impossible to predict what’s next. Although delays are inevitable, staying prepared can greatly soften their blow — for both you and your customers. 

As usual, we’re here if you have any questions, shipping or otherwise! Don’t hesitate to reach out.

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