How Late Shipment Can Ruin Your eCommerce Business?

How late shipment can ruin your eCommerce business

As a retailer, you pay a steep price to offer your shoppers stellar delivery experience but you are still struggling with their late shipment complaints. You also foot almost every exorbitant charge billed mercilessly by FedEx, UPS, and DHL yet these carriers are not held accountable for late shipments. Logistics is definitely not a fair play. Surveys have time and again shown how buyers tend to shy away from retailers following a negative delivery experience. That’s not all. Your customers, in a hyper-connected world, are likely to post damaging reviews on social media.

In the eCommerce business, you do not directly interact with your customers. Hence, tangible aspects of your business are vital- delivery being the most significant among them. Research reveals that poor customer service could result in a loss of 71% of consumers. These highlight the importance of customer satisfaction for eCommerce businesses. 

Late shipment can be detrimental to your brand

In recent years eCommerce has greatly permeated the fabric of consumer culture. In turn, delivery services and online shopping have increased at an impressive rate with eCommerce booming worldwide. According to, the estimated number of parcels delivered annually will reach 16 billion by the end of this year. In 2018, shipments grew by 17%. That’s a lot of parcels. Further, parcel volume is expected to reach 200 billion by 2025.

According to Convey’s 2018 Last-Mile Delivery Report 

  • 98% of the customers claim that delivery impacts their brand loyalty
  • 74% prioritized delivery of all other aspects in the shopping experience
  • In case of late arrivals, 51% expect a refund on shipping.
  • 61% demand quicker delivery times
  • 63% expect a standard delivery within three days

People want their deliveries and they want them fast. It’s time for retailers to step up their shipping game to better meet expectations and tackle all late shipments efficiently.  

Why is shipping on time so important?

Brand Reputation matters

 Your ultimate goal is to enhance the customer delivery experience. Surveys reveal that when customers have had a bad experience with your brand, they are 50% more likely to share it on social media. Delivering your packages on time is fundamental to success.  Here are the screenshots of cases of failed on-time deliveries and angry customer voices:

Improved cash flow

On-time deliveries help you stimulate liquidity processes and receive customer equity that feeds the cash flow up in companies. When your packages are delivered in an orderly and timely fashion, it only means that your supply chain is working at optimal efficiency. You can be confident that there is no room for delay in the whole process. This is very important for business owners because a fast and efficient supply chain implies faster and more efficient cash flow. 

Enhance customer confidence and build partnerships

New customers have a tendency to switch your competitors if they are disappointed with your company’s offerings. Your shoppers are likely to fall into doubts and skepticism when delivered shipments are late. Nothing is worse for your eCommerce business than your customers losing confidence in you because of late shipments and package delays. With better adherence to the delivery date schedules, your company will get better leads, growth, and acquisition. 

Common causes for late shipment deliveries

Every day millions of packages are sent all over the globe. The estimated transit time must be as accurate as possible so that shippers can plan ahead. However, sometimes due to inefficiency or unforeseen circumstances, shipments may arrive late. 

Unforeseen circumstances/ Bad weather

Unfavorable, harsh weather conditions are unforeseen circumstances beyond anyone’s control. Unavoidably bad weather can lead to package delays and late shipments. Poor weather conditions like excessive rainfall can easily block roads and slow down transit. You should also be aware of political upheavals in case they escalate into volatile situations resulting in strikes. Read about 25 reasons for FedEx and UPS delivery delays.

Incorrect customs declaration/paperwork

Customs can most definitely delay the delivery of your package.  The common causes of customs delay are:

  1. When important documents are incorrectly filled. 
  2. Incorrect description of goods or a missing value will result in incorrect classifications resulting in an incorrect license or worse, the absence of a license.
  3. If the EORI number is absent, full customs entry cannot be completed.  
  4. Incorrect paper, including a minor detail, will delay your shipment severely. 

People often tend to not mention the value of the shipment. Delay in clearance may incur extra costs in terms of storage fees. Your customers will be frustrated because they did not receive the package on time. Incorrect documentation can result in extra costs, missed sales opportunities, wasted time and effort. 

Incorrect Address

Packages get delayed because of the shipper’s failure to write down the correct delivery address. The chances of your carrier setting out to find the correct address to deliver the item are very low. Ensure your address book is updated and complete. Further, not only does it cost more to deliver to remote locations, but it may also take more time due to poor connectivity. 

A surge in shipping volume

There is always a surge in order volume around Black Friday and Cyber Monday that takes a toll on timely deliveries and leads to late shipments. Often holiday gift rush leads to nationwide shipping delays. As it gets close to the holiday season, customers often opt for faster shipping options like two-day delivery and overnight delivery. 

Strategies to combat late shipments

While eCommerce juggernauts like Amazon are focusing on providing same-day shipping, small online businesses often end up suffering from lost sales and negative reviews due to shipping delays and longer shipping times. However, it is always safe to have a foolproof strategy to deal with angry customers. 

Keep your customers informed

The more you communicate with your customers, the better. You have to work shoulder to shoulder with all your customers so that they hear first from you. They know the order was received and prepared and possibly dispatched but met with an unfortunate circumstance which you or the carrier couldn’t circumvent. Explain why their order is late and do everything you can to give them the best estimate for the new timeline. 

A real-time shipment tracker that notifies your customer in case of delivery exception is ideal to offer an awesome customer experience.

Make sure there is adequate compensation

Once you fail to deliver on the promise, you need to work hard to rebuild the trust in your service. This means going beyond simply delivering an order based on a new, later timeline. You could offer them the chance to cancel their order and receive a full refund or offer them coupons or discounts as a token of apology. These gestures need to be accompanied by sincere and clear expressions of your regret for the delay and let them know how you are willing to resolve the issue at hand so that you don’t appear false and reckless. 

Use a tracking-enabled shipping option

You should always choose the right shipping option, where you and your customers can get real-time updates and tracking information. In most cases, people don’t panic if they know where their package is and what is happening with their packages. So by using a tracking-enabled shipping method, you can easily get hundreds of customers to stop complaining about shipping delays. This will also give you more control over the shipping process and allow you to respond to any delays preemptively. 

Offer special deals

You can provide your angry customers with some great special deals. This is highly effective and will serve as a great step toward pacifying their angst and making them feel truly appreciated and valued. At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering experiences that make your customers feel like they are heard and cared about. You could provide free shipping for them on their next two orders or offer a 50% discount on the total value of their next shipment. 

Recover refunds for late shipments

Global shipping carriers such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL offer to refund the entire shipping cost when shipments are delayed late.  The only catch is that unless a business file claims for late deliveries, they will not be credited. An automated service level audit like AuditShipment can help you identify, file claim requests as well as reconcile the refunds for service failures. Businesses can get back up to 16% of their shipping costs in successful refund recovery. You can read more about the money-back guarantee for late deliveries.

With its widely available two-day shipping option, Amazon continues to set the standard for this industry. However, customers do not realize how expedited delivery timelines impact small/medium eCommerce businesses that cannot offer quick shipping in a cost-effective manner. Even so, retailers must aim to set realistic delivery expectations and aim to deliver on their promise. This will go a long way in augmenting their brand credibility.

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