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Shipping delays are a huge headache for businesses of all sizes. According to our 2022 consumer research, 24% of customers would not buy from a store again if their package arrived later than expected. 

With that being said, not only do shipping delays cause damage to your brand reputation, but they can also cause shipping costs to skyrocket and affect inventory levels if not handled properly. 

What causes shipping delays?

First things first, shipping delays aren’t always the fault of you and your businesses. However, more often than not, you will take the majority of the blame from your customers. We hear you, it’s not fair.

What you can do is make yourself aware of the main causes of shipping delays. Then, when relevant, can share this information with your customers who may be more giving if the fault is not yours. 

International shipping

Congestion in airports, flight delays, and customs requirements are some of the main reasons for international delays. This is why it’s vital that you ensure all your international shopping paperwork is correctly filled in. If not, customs are known to hold packages indefinitely or until the correct information is received. 

Quick tip: Use Sendcloud’s customs declaration form shipping tool to create and print customs forms for international shipping.

Holidays & peak periods

Holidays and peak periods are hectic for all retailers; online and offline. This chaos caused by a dramatic increase in shipments inevitably causes shipping delays. Couriers get overwhelmed with orders which leads to delays at a time when customers are more desperate to have their packages on time. 

Incorrect shipping info

Customers can also cause delays for their own orders. When they give a misspelt or incorrect address, the courier may not have enough info to deliver the order. You (the retailer) can also give incorrect customer information to the courier, so pay extra attention. 

Quick tip: When shipping internationally, take extra care when writing the customer’s address. Address formats vary from country to country. 

Unforeseen events 

The pandemic is just one example of unforeseen events. However, they don’t have to be that traumatic in order to cause shipping delays. Delays can be caused by traffic, roadblocks, construction, detours, accidents, failed delivery attempts, and human error; the list is endless. It’s important to keep track of these events and to inform the customer in a timely manner. 

Extreme Weather

Who remembers Storm Eunice? Extreme weather is a surprisingly common cause of shipping delays. Though not typically unforeseen thanks to the weatherperson, there isn’t much you can do to prepare for these events. Though you can give prior warnings on your website to explain that there may be weather delays due to the upcoming adverse weather. 

How do shipping delays impact your business?

As mentioned earlier, 24% of customers would not buy from a store again if their package arrived later than expected. This percentage is way too high for you not to consider. 

Shipping delays impact your business in multiple ways including: 

Damage to brand trust

A large number of consumers will blame your online store for shipping delays. Your brand is the face of the product and the transaction so many don’t even consider that it could be due to the couriers. 

Also, as your business decides on the couriers you ship with, the responsibility will always come back to your brand. This is why it’s important to carefully consider which couriers you ship with and to offer a multiple-courier service. 

Revenue deficit

This one is a no-brainer. If you’re going to lose 24% of your customers for unreasonable shipping delays, it’s going to have a huge impact on your revenue.

Though it’s not only about the customers who won’t order again from your store. Any customer who experiences a shipping delay is likely to consider your competition for their next purchase. The trust will have to be rebuilt. 

Inventory problems

Shipping delays make it really difficult to forecast and plan. You may end up overstocking or understocking certain products which will lead to lost revenue. Not having stock also impacts your brand trust and will make potential customers weary about ordering from you in the future. 

5 tips for dealing with shipping delays

First things first, you can’t avoid shipping delays. What’s vital for every successful e-commerce business is to handle them in the best way for the consumer. This requires planning ahead by having safety nets in place for unavoidable and inevitable shipping delays.

Here are 5 tips: 

1. Tracking

The first thing your customers will do when their shipment hasn’t arrived on time is to check tracking. It’s vitally important that you continually update your customers on the status of their orders in real time. This will reduce the anxiety, frustration, and stress that come with shipping delays. 

Sendcloud offers branded tracking and makes it beyond easy for all online businesses to take control of their tracking. 

“You can modify the tracking emails to fit your own style via the Sendcloud platform. Not only can you add your own logo and colours, but you can also add an Instagram post or banner.”. – Marijn Soetekouw, Boots 

2. Transparent communication

A great way to prepare your customers for shipping delays is to be transparent with your communication. If you know there is a chance there will be issues with shipping (weather, courier issues, etc.) then it’s good to be proactive with your communication. This helps manage customer expectations and will lessen their disappointment with most delays. 

3. Free shipping

Free shipping is another way to manage customer expectations. If your customers are getting their delivery for nothing they’re less likely to expect fast delivery or maybe even delivery with a dedicated timeslot. They’ll be a lot more accepting of shipping delays when they haven’t paid for it. 

4. Gift cards & discounts

Offering gift cards, discounts, or gifts to your customers after a shipping delay is a great way to soften their frustration. It doesn’t cost you much but will go a long way in repairing any damage caused by the delay. 

5. Reliable couriers

Another way to ensure shipping delays are kept at a minimum is to choose couriers who have a good reputation when it comes to punctual deliveries. Read customer reviews on various couriers and adopt a multi-courier strategy to ensure your customers have options and shipping delays are few and far between. 

How can Sendcloud help with shipping delays?

Utilising Sendcloud’s tracking feature and being able to easily connect with multiple couriers will give you a much-needed headstart when it comes to shipping delays. 

Check out our Tracking feature page to discover more.