How to Manage Shipping Delays

In the world of e-commerce, shipping expectations are a massive part of customer satisfaction. Customers expect their items to arrive at the time stated at purchase. However, inevitably, delays will occur. Learn their impact on your business, the most common delays, and how to best avoid them.

Why are shipping delays bad for business?

Shipping delays can cause havoc on your business.

Today, people expect fast shipping. Amazon’s “Free Two-Day Shipping” has created a standard that is nearly impossible for small retailers to compete with. That is why doing everything to create a smooth shipping and delivery experience will go a long way to making up for the perceived inconvenience of three-day shipping.

If your company is known for shipping delays, customers will need some encouragement to begin to trust you with their money. Unfortunately, in today’s social media culture, just one bad review is all it takes to create a bad reputation.

So, what can you, as an e-tailer, do to combat it?

  1. Know the common causes of shipping delays.
  2. Create a plan to combat shipping delays.

In this article, we will cover both of these subjects. First, let’s go over seven of the most common issues that will delay your orders from being fulfilled.

What causes shipping delays?


The holiday season is one of the most predictable disruptions to shipping expectations. With the influx of online shoppers buying gifts around each holiday, shipping times can often become longer because most packages have to be sorted by the same number of workers. This is a common and well-known issue among customers. In 2022, 25% of customers were concerned about shipping delays for their holiday gifts.


A less predictable cause of shipping delays is the weather. At times, it can change suddenly and violently. Snow in the northern states, tropical storms in the south, and even power outages at the peak of summer can all create unexpected delays that hold up the delivery of your customers’ orders. Nearly 12% of truck delays are due to bad weather alone.

Supply Chain

When one part of the supply chain breaks, the system gets slowed down. From packaging, first-mile pick-up, the transportation between shipping zones, to that final last-mile delivery, there are a lot of moving parts. At any moment, any number of these things could slow down and affect the whole process.

International Upheaval

When shipping internationally, your package could run into a whole new set of problems before reaching its destination. Things like labor strikes, protests, war, and so much more can cause delays for your packages traveling outside of the United States. Check out The Mail Group’s advisory alerts page for the latest international delays updates.


Customs can be a big headache if not done correctly. Items can get stuck, waiting for documentation or taxes to be paid when they need to be shipped correctly. Every country has different import laws, so while an item might be able to ship to one nation, it might not be able to ship to others. Things that are stuck in customs could be detained for an indefinite amount of time if proper research and preparation are not done beforehand.

Labor Issues

During the Pandemic, with government lockdowns going worldwide, labor issues were a significant cause for extended shipping times. Even today, many industries are still struggling to regain those pre-Covid productivity levels.

Incorrect Addresses

Wrong addresses are a pain for everyone involved. First, they prevent the customer from receiving their order. For the couriers or post office, they create an additional hassle when they attempt to make a delivery, and the address doesn’t exist. And they create added expenses for you, the e-tailer, as the cost of something being “returned to sender” falls on your shoulders.

Ultimately, this leads to a failed delivery and a customer needing to receive their order. It has not just been delayed by a day or two, but now the whole order process needs to restart by obtaining the correct address and then shipping the parcel again.

How to avoid delivery delays?

Now that you know the most common causes of delivery delays, here are four tips on how to best avoid them.

Make a plan.

Please take all of the above issues into consideration and make a plan as to how to avoid them—holidays coming up? Ensure your customers know that shipping will take a little longer than usual. If something normally ships in 3-4 days, tell them it could take up to 6 before it arrives. It is always better for an item to arrive earlier than planned than later than expected.

Don’t give an exact date.

Make your life easier by giving a date range rather than a specific date for delivery. Telling customers that it will arrive in 3-5 days will provide them with an automatic cushion to work with. Even if times typically come in 3 days, keep the buffer to stay on the safe side.

Do your research for customs.

Doing your research before you start selling internationally is critical to successful delivery. Refrain from assuming that your hand-knit sweater can travel anywhere. Know each country’s regulations, how to meet them, and if it is even worth trying to sell there. You might have to blacklist certain countries because your products are not legally able to cross into that country.

The more homework you do beforehand, the less headache you will cause for yourself and the less chance of disappointing would-be customers.

Ship from multiple locations.

Shipping from multiple locations across the country will help cut down on the distance your packages have to travel and, therefore, the number of potential delays they could run into.


Shipping delays can have a significant impact on your business’s reputation and customer satisfaction. It’s essential to understand the common causes of delays, such as holidays, weather, supply chain issues, international upheaval, customs, labor issues, and incorrect addresses.

By making a plan, avoiding exact delivery dates, doing your research for customs, and shipping from multiple locations, you can combat these issues and provide a smooth shipping experience for your customers. Remember, a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring your customers receive their orders on time.

Third-party logistics providers like Smart Parcel 24/7 can help you make your shipping solutions a smoother process. Let us help you keep your customers happy, even during peak sales times!