Shipping Problems: Common Shipping Issues and Problems

Bradley Johnson
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    The ins and outs of how to ship a package appear simple on the surface. First, you need to know how to measure a box for shipping and then use a shipping cost estimator to determine your expenses.

    After all, you're likely asking, "How much does it cost to ship a package?" And then, "Why is shipping so expensive?" Trust us--we know. These questions are particularly relevant if you're learning how to ship frozen food, like shipping frozen meat or wholesale seafood.

    Second, you can use a shipping policy template to inform your customers of your procedures, and offer service options like overnight shipping, flat rate shipping, and expedited shipping. Once this is all set in place, you can sit back as your carrier delivers everything perfectly, right? Well, things are a little more complicated than that. 

    There are common shipping issues and problems that plague every carrier, no matter how big or impressive their fleet is. If you dive headfirst into the shipping world unaware of these setbacks, you may get discouraged quickly. 

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    Continue reading to learn the most common shipping problems and a few steps you can take to mitigate them.

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    USPS Shipping Issues and Problems

    The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the largest shipping and handling carrier in the US, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless. With more than 120 billion packages delivered each year, there are bound to be some mishaps.

    Here are three of the most common:

    1. Delivering to the Incorrect Address

    One of the biggest USPS shipping issues is when they deliver to the incorrect address. Out of each problem faced by USPS customers, this tends to be the most common. 

    Whether the service delivery driver made an error or the address was inaccurate to begin with, a package to the wrong destination is annoying for all parties affected. It may even result in a refund request. To mitigate this likelihood, double-check your recipient’s address before buying postage.

    1. Slow Processing Times

    Slow order processing is another commonplace USPS hiccup. This refers to the steps completed at processing facilities, such as accepting packages, assigning them to drivers, and putting them in the correct trucks.

    Cross docking is a process that can help to improve the efficiency of order processing. It involves receiving products at one location and then immediately shipping them out from that same location, without having to store them in a warehouse or distribution center first.  There can be significant lead time between all of these steps, sometimes as much as one or two business days.

    Package processing is necessary to confirm postage sales, check the safety of packages, ensure packaging matches the label, and more. If any of these requirements aren’t met, USPS staff will return it to the sender. 

    The most common reason for a package not getting processed quickly is the box didn’t match the label. For example, if you purchased Priority Mail postage but placed your item in a Priority Mail Express box, USPS will send it back to you.

    USPS isn’t going to ship a package with cheaper postage than required, because there’s no easy way to retroactively charge customers. Be 100% sure you’re placing your item in the correct box before dropping it off at USPS, otherwise both you and your buyer will be frustrated. 

    1. Estimated Delivery Times, Not Guarantees

    Another drawback of USPS is most of their shipping services don’t come with guaranteed delivery timeframes. The only one that does is Priority Mail Express, which will be delivered within 1-2 business days. If your package isn’t delivered within this timeframe, USPS offers a money-back guarantee.

    To maximize the likelihood of a timely delivery, try to get your eCommerce shipping done on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays are good because your package goes out after the hectic pace of Monday, and Fridays are good because it’s the end of the business week. Packages are still processed on Saturdays and it puts you one day ahead of the next Monday rush. 

    Not sure which shipping carrier to go with? You can get the best of each world with our own built-in shipping tools. BlueCart eCommerce consolidates the buying power of our customers to negotiate superior rates from over 60 shipping companies. 

    Calculate shipping costs by weight, issue an RMA number for returns, learn how to print shipping labels and a packing slip with a thermal shipping label printer, and more. Book a demo to see how BlueCart’s tools can level up your business. 

    FedEx Shipping Issues and Problems

    FedEx is the third largest shipping carrier in the United States and was the first to offer competitive global air freight. Since the company’s founding in 1971, they’ve expanded to offer additional services like cold freight, overnight delivery, and international shipping. 

    Unfortunately, there are still FedEx shipping issues that affect the company’s productivity and popularity among consumers. Here are two of the biggest: 

    1. Late Delivery Times

    FedEx’s on-time rating improved by 5 percentage points to 72% in September, (Convey), due to operational improvements and more precise estimates of delivery times. UPS (83%) and the USPS (92%) reported lower on-time ratings during the same period.

    FedEx does offer a money-back guarantee for late deliveries, though. You can request a refund or credit to your account if they miss their published delivery time by even one minute.

    In an industry where timing is everything, a package that’s even a few hours late can negatively impact several things. Unfortunately, sellers have little control over exactly when a package will be delivered. The best one can do is use the right eCommerce packaging, apply labels clearly, and drop the box off on time.

    1. Insufficient Staffing

    Another struggle FedEx often faces is insufficient staffing. As eCommerce trends point to easier shopping and faster shipping, more packages have to be shipped out in less time. Without enough staff to handle growing demand, some packages are invariably delayed.

    The company’s on-time deliveries used to hover around 96 to 97%, but suffered significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, FedEx’s Norcross, GA, facility experienced several complaints during summer in recent years.

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    UPS Shipping Issues and Problems

    1. Insufficient Shipper Documentation

    Sometimes a product was packaged well, but it was missing documentation. Whether you’re sending a commercial shipment but it’s missing a net 30 invoice (an invoice is required) or an international package missing its Certificate of Origin, lack of paperwork slows down deliveries. 

    UPS tends to have speedy deliveries but if you forgot to include required documents, your package will be returned or held at a processing facility. Double check that all paperwork required for your shipment is included before shipping, especially if you’re selling in a marketplace app and online marketplace.

    1. Recipient Unavailable

    Another common UPS shipping problem is when your recipient is unavailable. Whether they were at work during delivery, missed the delivery driver, or simply weren’t home, getting this timing right is tricky.

    This is troublesome if you’re learning how to ship beer, how to ship food, how to ship wine, how to ship dairy, or how to ship cookies, as these products are perishable. It's also true when learning how to ship large items, as they can't always be placed at a doorstep.

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also like our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    While you can’t know when a delivery driver will be in a particular area, you can inform your recipient of common delivery times. This can help them plan their schedule according to the most likely delivery window. The worst-case scenario is the delivery driver will try again on the next business day, or your recipient will need to pick it up at a nearby UPS office.

    Cargo Shipping Problems

    Cargo shipping is not without its problems. In fact, several common issues occur during cargo shipping. Here are four of the most common cargo transportation issues:

    1. Damage to goods in transit: One of the most common problems with cargo shipping is damage to goods during transit. This can occur for various reasons, including rough handling, bad weather, or simply because they did not properly pack the goods. If you are shipping delicate or valuable items, it is important to take extra care to ensure they are well protected.
    2. Delivery delays: Another common problem with cargo shipping is delivery delays. This can be caused by several factors, including bad weather, customs delays, or problems with the shipping company itself. If you expect your shipment to arrive on time, tracking its progress and being prepared for delays is essential.
    3. Loss or theft of cargo: Unfortunately, cargo theft is a common problem in the shipping industry. This can happen for various reasons, including poor security at the shipping company or during transit. If you are shipping valuable or irreplaceable items, it is vital to take extra steps to ensure they're properly protected. One way to do this is by inventory tracking. Inventory tracking helps you keep tabs on your inventory and prevent shrinkage.
    4. Incorrect documentation: One final problem with cargo shipping is incorrect documentation. This can happen if the shipper does not fill out the paperwork correctly or if there is a mistake in the shipping company's records. If you are unsure about any aspect of your shipment, it is important to contact the shipping company to clarify things before the shipment is sent.

    Any of these problems can cause major delays and headaches for everyone involved. That's why it's crucial to have a good plan before shipping your cargo.

    Make sure you know who is responsible for what and keep lines of communication open at all times. This will help you avoid potential problems and ensure that your cargo arrives safe and sound.

    Shipping Container Problems

    A number of common shipping container problems occur during transport or storage. These include water damage, rodent infestation, and structural damage. Let’s take a closer look at each one:

    • Water Damage: Water damage occurs if the container is not properly sealed or if it is stored in an area that is prone to flooding. Ensure the container is tightly sealed and stored in a dry location to prevent water damage.
    • Rodent Infestation: Rodents can enter the container through small openings and cause extensive damage. To prevent this problem, ensure all openings are sealed, and the container is stored in a clean and dry location.

    Structural Damage: Structural damage occurs if the container is not adequately supported or if it is overloaded. Ensure that the container is supported correctly and not overloaded to prevent structural damage.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Common Shipping Issues and Problems

    Without shipping technology and distribution networks, most modern physical product businesses wouldn’t exist. Being able to deliver goods through dropshipping and different types of marketplaces is largely thanks to today’s shipping carriers. 

    That doesn’t mean shipping companies execute everything perfectly, though. There are several shipping problems that are caused by the businesses themselves as well as accidents and unforeseen circumstances. To better understand what causes shipping problems, take a look at the frequently asked questions below: 

    ​​What are the Problems of Shipping?

    There are several shipping problems that affect major carriers, including too few employees, rising costs, governmental regulations, and inclement weather. A lack of employees is the primary obstacle to successful shipping companies, as you need a certain amount of staff to deliver hundreds of packages each day. 

    Rising costs are also a concern, as carriers must charge enough to turn a profit but not too much to scare customers away. Governments tend to enact more regulations as the years go by, often in an attempt to limit environmental pollution, which bulk shipping carriers tend to generate more of.

    Finally, bad weather--such as rain, heavy snow, and strong winds--is a common deterrent to successful package delivery. If it’s unsafe to be outside, packages may be delayed by one business day or more. 

    What are Some of the Problems That are Caused By Shipping; At Least 3?

    Three of the top problems caused by the shipping industry are water pollution, air pollution, and landfill waste. Cargo ships are responsible for around 18% of air pollutants, like nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. 

    A little less than 10% of all landfill waste comes from packaging material, which is fairly significant. Too often, even materials that can be recycled are simply tossed out for the sake of convenience. 

    Water pollution is an issue too. Cargo ships utilize ballast water, which balances out the hull of a ship while cargo is being unloaded. Water is pulled into the hull at one port and released at another, which is aquatic waste and causes marine life disruption. 

    Why Is Shipping Delayed?

    Shipping can be delayed for many reasons, but the most common are bad weather, incorrect addresses, and carrier mishaps. Severe weather like tornadoes, snowstorms, and heavy rain prevent the transfer of packages from distribution centers to trucks and trucks to destinations. 

    If you're using last mile delivery, be sure to double check the recipient's address. An incorrect recipient address is the second leading cause of delayed shipments. Whether a single character was missing on the label or an entire street was wrong, this is an issue that can be easily fixed. 

    Finally, shipping carrier accidents do occur. Perhaps a delivery driver brought one too many packages to a particular house, or misread an address in their multi stop route planner. A package may have been left at a distribution center while a worker was batch picking, meaning the driver has to pick it up on their next stop at the center. 

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    Getting Your Shipments In Shape

    Working with a shipping company isn’t always a clear-cut experience. They may ask you to complete paperwork that you haven’t previously or require a certain type of packaging, but it’s all to help your goods get delivered.

    Despite real-world imperfections like being understaffed and having terrible weather, one thing you can count on is that shipping companies are happy to win your business. Stand-up organizations like UPS and FedEx work tirelessly to offer competitive rates and reliable service. Verify that your recipient info and packaging materials are sufficient, and you’ll be in great shape.

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