Shipping Delays: 5 Common Causes of Shipping Delays

Nicole Georgiev
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    Shipping delays are one of the common shipping issues that businesses deal with. They can completely throw the supply chain management practices and, in turn, cause high operational costs, penalties, and unhappy customers. 

    In many cases, the cause of these shipping and handling delays is out of your hands as a business owner. There may be some variables you can control when it comes to having your shipments delivered on time. 

    Despite being out of your control, it’s important to communicate such delays with your customers through your sales, marketing, and support teams. This should be part of a business’s customer relationship management efforts. First, you must understand the common causes of shipping delays. 

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    Shipping Delays and Their Impact on Businesses

    The COVID-19 pandemic caused many interruptions in global supply chains. These include worker shortages, lockdowns, and slow port turnaround times. As a result, there has been an increase in shipping delays. 

    Both retailers and customers have felt the effects of these problems. With shipping delays, retailers may lose revenue from being unable to stock their high demand products. As a result, their customer relationships suffer. 

    Shipping frozen food can be a nightmare if you don't know where to start. Learn how to ship frozen food the right way.

    Shipping delays impact retailers in the following ways:

    Damage to Brand Trust

    Consumers tend to blame retailers for later deliveries. This is mainly due to the fact that they rely on retailers to deliver products on time and feel disappointed when their orders don’t show up when they expect them to. 

    This disappointment may lead to future concerns with the brand regarding delivery times. As a result, customers may be less inclined to re-order products in the future. 

    Loss of Revenue

    Shipping delays may also result in a loss of revenue for the business. Customers tend to avoid shopping from businesses that have slow delivery times or inconsistent delivery schedules. 

    As a result, they may abandon their purchases, such as with cart abandonment, or shop from competitors. This is why businesses should pay attention to their cart abandonment rate and develop a strong abandoned cart recovery strategy. 

    Key Takeaway: Everyone knows that shipping delays cause frustration, but with proper communication from the sales representatives, marketing, and support team, your business can prevent shipping delays while maintaining customer relationships. 

    5 Causes for Shipping Delays

    To best avoid any shipping delays, it’s best for businesses to understand what causes them. It will also help improve customer satisfaction and the entire customer experience. Part of this includes mastering and truly understanding last mile delivery and how it can affect customer retention

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    Here are five causes for shipping delays:

    1. Holidays

    The holidays are something that many people look forward to each year. During the holiday season, online orders increase, especially for an eCommerce business. 

    This increase in online orders comes from businesses capitalizing on their customers’ urge to purchase gifts. They do this by offering discounts, promotions, and major sales in their online stores. 

    With the increase in orders comes an increase in shipment volumes which may lead to overwhelming shipping capacities. To avoid shipment delays due to the large volume of orders, businesses must plan ahead to establish efficient logistics systems.

    Such logistics systems may include learning how to print shipping labels, using a shipping policy template, and utilizing different eCommerce shipping solutions. It’s also possible to strategically plan out your business’s promotional offers over multiple days to avoid having too many orders in a short period of time. 

    2. Incorrect Documentation 

    Not having the right documents for your shipments can cause shipping delays. This is possible during different parts of the shipping process including when the package leaves the port of origin, clears customs, or arrives at the final destination. 

    Common documentation errors include:

    • Missing paperwork. Essential paperwork is necessary for freight shipping. This includes the bill of lading, origin certificate, and commercial invoice. Missing these documents will result in a comprehensive customs inspection and delays in the delivery process.
    • Inaccurate content description. Shipment delays are common when there is an inaccurate content description of the package. This includes errors in the HS code, product specifications, and country of origin. These factors can slow down the customs clearance process and potentially result in a denial of entry. 
    • Improper labeling. Each shipping label has important information regarding the cargo. Improperly labeling the package may result in a delay in customs clearance or the loss of the package. 

    It’s important to check all shipping paperwork to ensure that everything is up-to-date, in order, and legible. This will help your business avoid shipping delays due to incorrect documentation. 

    3. Inadequate Technology

    Using old software during shipping isn’t efficient. It may cause problems due to the inability to integrate new features and technologies that may help avoid or mitigate shipping delays. 

    By investing in updated shipping technology, such as using cloud-based software, businesses can provide a more streamlined approach to the shipping process. This includes 3PL which allows transportation companies to stay connected using real-time data. 

    4. Weather Conditions

    Delivery businesses must prioritize safety at all times. With this, they also have to take into account weather conditions, which are out of their control. Harsh weather conditions may cause road shut-downs and, in turn, cause delays due to slow transits. 

    This can be frustrating for businesses and customers alike. However, there aren’t many businesses can do to ensure timely deliveries when harsh weather conditions are to blame.

    5. Customs

    When it comes to international shipments, customs are a huge factor in shipping delays. It’s crucial to have all required documents handy to avoid issues and delays as much as possible. 

    Delays are inevitable without the necessary documentation and this can jumpstart additional complications with cargo inspections. If items are held up by customs, businesses should have a backup plan ready. This includes having relationships with courier services that keep up with accurate documentation. 

    3 Shipping Trends To Keep In Mind

    The world is becoming more and more conscious of the environmental impact of their everyday choices. This includes their shopping choices. 

    Over the past few years, customers have been more inclined to shop from brands that have made a commitment to sustainability. Due to this, businesses have decided to capitalize on this and other shipping trends as part of their customer acquisition and retention strategy. 

    Three shipping trends businesses should consider include:

    1. Shopping Local

    Common shopping concerns for customers include sustainability and the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to this, there has been an increase in shopping locally. This includes shopping at local neighborhood stores and purchasing locally-sourced products. 

    Brands with brick and mortar stores might want to capitalize on these customer preferences to tackle problems with shipping delays. You can do this by offering hybrid shopping options such as “buy online and pick up in-store for items that are in stock. 

    2. Green Shipping

    Shipping companies and retailers are starting to focus on “zero-emissions shipping” and “green shipping” options. This is a way for them to reduce their carbon footprint, which is a good look for eco-conscious customers to see. 

    The shipping industry as a whole is looking into ways to reduce fossil fuel emissions and consumption. As a business owner, you may consider using plastic-free packaging options and other eco-friendly materials. 

    3. Shipping Technology

    Technology is huge in today’s world, especially when it comes to monitoring shipping operations and performance. With updated shipment technology, such as shipping software and a shipping label printer, you can increase efficiency and keep up with the latest shipping trends. You can also check the UPS & USPS overnight shipping costs.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Shipping Delays

    Like other industries, the shipping industry is changing rapidly and adapting to the needs of the commercial marketplace. This is what makes it more competitive and cost-effective. 

    To better understand shipping delays and why they occur, read the following commonly asked questions. 

    What Does a Shipping Delay Mean?

    A shipping delay means that an order has not been completed or packaged yet. This is based on the shipping date set by the delivery company which the package is sent with. There are many reasons why a package may have a shipping delay. 

    What Is Causing Supply Chain Issues in 2022?

    Supply chain issues in 2022 are caused by a number of factors including: 

    • Logistics provider capacity issues
    • Delivery driver shortages
    • High demand peaks
    • Labor shortages

    Why Are Shipments Delayed in 2022?

    Shipments are delayed in 2022 due to challenges in the shipping industry such as nationwide international shipping restrictions, lockdowns, and port congestions due to COVID-19. This is a shipping industry trend that has continued from 2020 through 2021 and into 2022. 

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