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Tips for dealing with shipping delays

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The growth of e-commerce has opened up many opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Online sales have surged during the pandemic as more consumers shop online. Businesses can tap into the potential of this market by making use of e-commerce platforms and offering international shipping options as a way to expand their business.

However, the pandemic has also brought challenges for these retailers. COVID-19 has caused an impact on global logistics and trade due to the increase in blank sailings, as cargo ships cancel or skip ports on their scheduled routes. Ships also take a longer time to load and unload their cargo due to a shortage of manpower. This has caused international shipping delays, which have frustrated many customers as they have to wait months to receive their packages. 

Although the economy is slowly recovering and industry insiders predict that global shipping delays will end in 2023, there is still a relatively long timeframe for businesses to sort out the constant delays. Along with the rising trend of on-demand deliveries, how can businesses optimise their services to avoid disappointing their customers? Read on to learn how companies can deal with late shipments that cause a delay in package deliveries.

What are the reasons for shipping delays?

Experiencing shipment delay can be frustrating for businesses and customers. With the increase in shipment volume due to COVID-19, companies will need to first understand the common reasons that can delay their shipments before coming up with ways to tackle this issue.

1. Inclement weather conditions

According to the Federal Highway Administration, extreme weather is responsible for 23% of all roadway delays, costing trucking companies up to US$3.5 billion annually. Common issues include heavy snowfall as well as flash floods caused by thunderstorms, which makes it a logistical nightmare, as shipments are often delayed due to bad weather. As such, companies will have to rely on accurate weather forecasts to plan their shipment routes.

2. Supply chain issues

Proper supply chain management is essential for safe on-time shipments. However, in recent years, the pandemic has caused disruption to the global supply chain. According to Statista, for the month of February in 2022, only 34% of container vessels arrived at their destination without delays. Labour shortage, limited unloading capacity, and shifts in demand are some of the issues that can cause shipping delays.

3. Non-compliance with customs regulations

Although many businesses are benefiting from the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry, it has also presented an issue that stems from the lack of understanding when it comes to the various countries’ import and export rules and regulations. As such, it does not come as a surprise that there are instances whereby businesses fail to provide sufficient or proper documentation for their shipments. This results in the relevant authorities holding on to shipments at the customs, thus resulting in a delay.

4. Peak Seasons

Shopping during the holidays is a key factor in driving online sales, and these opportunities extend well beyond traditional celebrations like Christmas. In recent years, the importance of seasonal shopping events has also grown, as consumers buy gifts and treats for themselves during the holiday season. Additionally, the festive atmosphere and the frequent sales and discounts that occur during holidays increase the likelihood of impulse buying. According to Adobe Digital Insights, online shopping sales during Black Friday alone totalled US$9.12 billion in 2022. Such a big increase in shipment volume can complicate the shipping logistics and cause a delay in shipments.

How can businesses deal with delayed shipments?

As shipping delays are an inevitable part of the shipping process, how can businesses handle these problems and reduce the negative impact caused by such delays?

1. Manage expectations

Many companies more often than not damage their brand’s reputation by overpromising, only to underdeliver due to shipment delay. When customers opt for certain delivery options like same-day delivery, they expect their parcels to arrive on the day they made the order. Any delays in shipping will result in disappointment and frustration. 

Besides ruining the brand’s reputation, overpromising can cause customers to lose trust in your business, which reduces the chance of them making another purchase with you again. Customers expect honesty and integrity when they purchase from a business. Upholding your business values and meeting customers’ expectations by providing accurate information helps to increase customer retention. 

2. Communication

Regardless of management strategy, communication plays a critical role in consumer satisfaction. Customers do not like being left in the dark, so businesses should maintain regular communication via dedicated emails or texts, and tailored communication channels offered by the social media platforms. Contacting your customers should be the first thing you do when there are shipment delays. The subsequent course of action would be service recovery. In short, be detailed when explaining the delays and give them an estimated date of when the orders will be delivered. 

In this regard, acknowledging service delays and communicating in real-time or promptly can significantly improve the customer experience.

3. Be contrite and show appreciation

According to 1,000 consumers surveyed by FarEye, 85% of those surveyed will not shop with the same business after a negative delivery experience due to delays in shipment. However, some customers might relent when proper service recovery steps are being made. 

Being prepared for shipment delays

The logistics industry has shown that it is susceptible to many issues, such as delays during the pandemic and sudden spikes in shipping volume. Having proper processes along with contingency plans can help mitigate the impact of disruptions and shipping delays due to factors such as bad weather or a lack of manpower. Businesses that understand this fact and implement a strong customer service team as well as develop a robust strategy to cope with shipments delays are poised to ride out the storm and strengthen the public’s perception of their brand. 

Prevent shipment delays by partnering with a reliable logistics partner

Shipping delays are inevitable, and choosing a reliable logistics partner can assist you in mitigating issues caused by delays. DHL Express has a committed team of experts equipped with local customs knowledge to minimise the potential risk of delays. Open a DHL Express account today to avoid shipment delays with our time-sensitive delivery services.