Delivery Exception: Meaning, Impacts, Causes, Corrective Measures, & Ways to Reduce Shipment Exception

eCommerce can be a challenging industry on a good day and can be an absolute nightmare on a bad one. There are so many processes and operations that can be affected by one another that if even one gets delayed, it can result in a snowball effect further down the line. This can ultimately lead to a package not being delivered on the specified date and time or even at all. More than 60% of customers have specified that they have personally experienced a delivery exception and a further 73% of the ones that have expect a quick resolution from the retailer.

The delivery of an order is the one physical interaction between a customer and your business and if that doesn’t go according to schedule, it can lead to a ton of negative sentiment and frustration, making your business susceptible to poor customer feedback and bad reviews. In this blog, we will take an in-depth look at the meaning of a delivery exception, the impact it has on your business, the main reasons they occur, how to correct them, and methods to reduce their frequency.

What is a Delivery Exception?

A delivery exception refers to a situation in which an order or package that is ordered by a customer gets delayed due to various unforeseen circumstances, whether internal, such as mishandling, breakage, vehicle breakdown, and more, or external, such as harsh weather conditions, road maintenance and traffic, among others. This could lead to the ETA getting revised to a new date or time depending on the severity of the delay, causing inconvenience to the receiving party and anxiety as to whether their products are intact and unharmed.

Customers usually receive updates on the status of their order whenever it passes through different stages of the supply chain and this also includes specifying incidents of delays that occur. However, it is worth mentioning that a shipping exception does not lead to a delay 100% of the time and can be received even after the initial hiccup but this is the exception, not the rule.

WareIQ – Amazon-prime Like Logistics for Modern Brands in India

WareIQ, an eCommerce fulfillment company, empowers online brands with a superior-tech platform to compete with Amazon like service levels by bringing their average delivery timelines from 5-10 days to 1-2 days.

"With WareIQ’s full stack digital enabled fulfillment solution, we got access to the pan India network of fulfillment centers & cold storage facilities enabling same/next day delivery, without any upfront investment in supply chain infrastructure from our end. During the IPL campaign in April 2022, WareIQ efficiently handled unpredictable 200x surges in daily order volumes of ~20k/day with a 99% fulfillment rate. With WareIQ as our preferred fulfillment partner, we witnessed 172% growth in online order volume in just 4 months, with a significant improvement in the overall customer experience in fulfillment."
- Damanbir Singh, Product & Operations Head, Lil’Goodness

Impacts of a Shipping Exception on Your Business

Reduces Chances of Repeat Purchases

Though delivery exceptions are almost always inadvertent and frequently unavoidable, they can nevertheless be frustrating for clients and need to be handled carefully. Even if it was legally the fault of the carrier or an act of nature, a customer may decide not to shop from you again if they had a bad delivery experience, even if everything else went smoothly. This will impact your ability to get repeat purchases, not only from them but from other existing customers that read their reviews. Because repeat purchases account for the majority of the business for most companies, this can have dire consequences.

Impacts Your Company’s Brand Image

Building a strong brand image can be the key differentiator in customers choosing your business over your competitors. You can only inspire confidence from customers if you consistently provide them with an efficient and hassle-free experience. Having the occurrence of delivery exceptions and delays can seriously impact the way customers perceive your business and can damage all the hard work you have put in in the blink of an eye. Therefore, in order to preserve your brand’s reputation, you should have safeguards in place to limit shipping exceptions from occurring.

Damages the Customer Experience

One reason why shipping companies and online retailers provide their customers with a tracking ID for their products is due to the possibility of delivery exceptions. Customers can see what is occurring after the consignment is taken over by the carrier thanks to this openness. Nevertheless, even with the most trustworthy eCommerce order tracking facilities, a lot can happen to a shipment while it’s in transit and some of those things can even go unnoticed. Delivery exceptions may cause packages to be delayed or not delivered at all, which will aggravate customers and lead to them having a poor experience with your company.

Lowers Your Future Sales Volumes

As discussed above, if a customer experiences a delivery exception, it can forever taint their perception of your company. This can go on to affect not only their decision to never purchase from you again but also have the same impact on potential customers reading their reviews to get a better sense of whether your company is the right fit for them. If a growing number of people are unhappy with your business, this can translate into more negative reviews and more customers deciding not to give your business a chance and instead, opt for one of your competitors.

Increases Expenditures

If a product is delayed due to whatever reason, it will most likely increase the transportation and operational cost of getting that order to the customer. For instance, if an order is delayed due to bad weather, it will have to be held up in transit so you may have to pay for additional storage, pay a higher delivery fee to the courier company and even risk the order getting returned due to the customer being increasingly frustrated. All these factors can significantly increase the cost it takes to deliver that order to a customer, reducing your overall profit margins in the process. Read here to know how can you reduce transportation costs.

What are the Primary Causes of Delivery Exceptions?

Improper Documentation

One of the most avoidable reasons for the occurrence of a delivery exception has to do with a package containing incorrect or missing documents while being in the carriers’ possession. This could be anything from erroneous or missing documents to an incorrect delivery address. A major delay can occur if there is any dispute regarding the accuracy of the documentation because it can cause the product to be delivered to the wrong address or be held up while it is still in transit.

Presence of National Holidays

If a national holiday occurs while a shipment is in transit, either in the home country or the destination nation, it can cause a delay in delivery and ultimately lead to a delivery exception. Whenever there is a government holiday, most companies including shipping firms are also expected to place a halt on their services, Due to a backlog of cargo, carriers frequently experience additional delays due to such holidays since they must play catch up in the days after, leading to inefficient shipping procedures.

Unavailability of the Recipient

Another common cause of a delivery exception is the unavailability of anyone to collect the order when the delivery executive arrives. This can be more or less mitigated with the presence of order tracking details that updates the customer about every movement of the parcel and revises the ETA based on certain circumstances. However, if the package arrives later or earlier than the specified time, the customer may not be available to collect it, which leads to a failed first-attempt delivery and will lead to more confusion than is necessary.

Harsh Climate Conditions

Delivering a package will probably be delayed if a weather-related issue or natural calamities, such as heavy rain, large amounts of fog, flooding, cyclones and more, makes moving through that route impassable. Nature is an immovable force and makes these unforeseen and uncontrollable delays unavoidable. As long as you have a different shipping route you can use or have the same product stored at a different location, you can still make up for the lost time. However, if there is no other option, both you and the customer will simply be at the mercy of the stoppage of whatever weather condition is causing the delay.

Customs Clearance Issues

International shipping has its fair share of difficulties. Frequently, packages are delayed at customs for longer than anticipated, which can frequently cause delivery dates to be missed, leading to a delivery exception. A more efficient customs clearance procedure can be achieved by making sure you have the correct tariff codes at the SKU level and all the other documents that are needed for the seamless entry and exit of products to the required country.

Suggested Read: Looking for international courier services in India?

Possible Outcomes of a Shipping Exception

The Customer Receives the Order On Schedule

A delivery exception does not always mean that the order is guaranteed to get delayed. If the issues are resolved without requiring drastic changes and do not take up too much time, there is a possibility that the items will still be delivered according to the existing ETA. However, the customer should still always be kept in the loop.

The Customer Receives the Order On a Revised Date

This is the most common outcome of a delivery exception. Many times, it is caused due to circumstances, not within the control of your company or the shipping carrier, such as bad weather, unavailability of the customer, and more. Hence, there is simply no alternative than to revise the ETA to a more suitable time and inform the customer, rather than risking product damage or even more dire consequences.

The Product Gets Returned and/or Resent

In some cases, if there is no possible alternative or solution for the delay, such as product damage, theft, or unrealistic delays, there is no option but to initiate a return and either offer the customer a replacement, refund, or exchange in order to make sure their needs are fulfilled.

Suggested Read: Looking for reverse logistics companies in India?

Easiest Ways to Correct a Shipping Exception

Contact the Shipping Service

Competent order tracking for both you and your customers is the first step in preventing shipment exceptions. It can either be provided using specialized software or directly through the carrier’s website. If you don’t have an order-tracking system in place, managing shipment exceptions will become more and more challenging.

It is simpler to prepare customers for delays if your courier partner is able to make them aware of the problem. You can find out from the carrier facility the reason for the delivery exception and if it is something to do with incorrect details or the unavailability of the customer, you offer help by providing them with the correct information or informing the customer.

Communicate With the Customer

You could get in touch with the customer to confirm the accuracy of the delivery location and make the necessary modifications if that was the reason for the delivery exception. It is best to notify the consumer about a potential hold-up and the reason for it if the exception was caused by other factors, such as bad weather or product damage.

Send an email or message apologizing for the inconvenience to those who were impacted, and don’t forget to express gratitude for their tolerance. Each opportunity to transform a less-than-ideal circumstance into a fruitful shopping experience for the customer will be cherished by them and increase your chances of holding onto repeat purchases.

Initiate a Return or Redelivery

​​You need to discuss the urgency of the situation and possible next steps if a product is harmed during transit or cannot be delivered due to some other reason. The best outcome in this regard would be to resend the goods or provide a full refund or the possibility of an exchange for the same value.

If you have shipping insurance for the cargo, the majority of the expense would be taken care of if the package was destroyed while in transit, reducing the financial burden on your company. Offering a return or a refund may cost your company in the short term but could be beneficial by retaining the affected customer in the long run.

delivery exception_5 Tips to Proactively Respond to Delivery Exceptions

5 Ways to Reduce the Prevalence of Delivery Exceptions

Provide Comprehensive Order Tracking Facilities

For eCommerce orders, providing accurate order tracking facilities should be standard practice. This will ensure that your customers are always kept up to date and will be more likely to be available when the shipment is due to arrive. This will reduce any additional risk of failed delivery attempts and shipping exceptions resulting from it. Additionally, customers will feel more at ease knowing the exact status of their parcel, even in the event of a delay and this will make them less likely to cancel it or initiate a return.

Cross-Check the Accuracy of Important Information

Usually, the most significant piece of information about your shipment is the delivery address. The carrier will be able to properly deliver parcels to their specified locations if all the relevant information is provided accurately. An erroneous address being entered is a manual aspect of delivery exceptions that is regularly subject to human mistakes. Thankfully, there are resources that aid in preventing this and a simple one is to simply verify that all the information is correct before dispatching a shipment.

Provide Real-Time Alerts About New Developments

A shipping exception can be avoided by constantly sending alerts, refreshing tracking links and keeping customers updated to make sure they know where to access the most recent information on their packages. Apart from the main tracking screen, you can even send them proactive notifications through whatever contact information you have, such as email, Whatsapp and SMS. This will ensure that they always have the information they need at their fingertips so that even if they aren’t present to collect their order, they can make the necessary arrangements.

Offer Weather-Resistant Packaging and Other Safety Features

Packages are always vulnerable due to bad weather, such as rain or fog. One way to ensure its safety while it is in the courier company’s possession and that it is delivered to its final location intact is to secure it with weather-resistant packaging. Also, you can consider using water-resistant labels and paper to reduce the possibility of ink leakage. Other safety measures you can implement include insuring every product against damage and having specialized transit facilities for delicate and perishable items.

Have a Choice of Multiple Courier Services

Partnering with multiple shipping companies has many advantages, one of which is that you won’t ever need to be constrained by the limitations of a single one. Try utilizing other carriers if you find that one is more likely to have delivery issues or delays to see if it makes a difference. Additionally, different carriers choose to place more importance on covering certain locations so it is important to pick the right one for each order. Partnering with a 3PL fulfillment company like WareIQ will automatically give you a wide selection and will even assign the most efficient carrier depending on the requirements of each order.

Conclusion: Prevent the Occurrence of Delivery Exceptions With WareIQ’s Efficient Order Fulfillment

Making your customers deal with a delivery exception can seriously hamper your chances of getting repeat purchases from them and can also lead to a poor opinion about your brand from all the prospective customers that read the feedback about their experience. Shipping exceptions are often inevitable because they aren’t always in the control of your company or your shipping partners.

It is often caused due to natural calamities, infrastructure issues, traffic delays and much more. However, it is advisable to have the necessary tools and strategies in place to offset the negative impacts and make sure that your customers receive their products on time. While this can seem like a challenging task, partnering with a 3PL fulfillment provider like WareIQ can make sure your customers’ exposure to delivery exceptions is limited.

WareIQ is a swiftly-growing eCommerce fulfillment company that was founded in 2019. It offers multiple eCommerce solutions for various requirements, ranging from order fulfillment and inventory storage to last-mile delivery and international shipping. Our vast use of technology can help curtail the adverse effects of delivery exceptions and reduce their frequency. Some of the ways we can do this are listed below:

  • Intelligent Inventory Placement: We use AI and ML-based recommendations to store your inventory closer to your customers so that delivery times will be cut short.
  • Smart Courier Allocation: We have partnered with more than 20 courier service providers and automatically assign the quickest and cheapest option for every order.
  • Branded Order Tracking: We provide branded order tracking facilities to ensure that your customers are always up to date on the status of their packages.
  • Last-Mile Delivery: We provide last-mile delivery services to ensure your packages reach their customer’s doorstep on time and on schedule.
  • RTO Shield: We help protect you from the negative impact of returns by providing an RTO Shield and insurance for every product.
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Delivery Exception: FAQs

Pavel D’silva

Pavel D’silva

Pavel is a content marketing analyst at WareIQ. He has more than 3 years of content marketing experience. His key responsibilities include writing SEO-based blogs, guides, guest posts, and other types of content on a plethora of topics related to eCommerce fulfillment, operations, supply chain, warehousing, shipping etc.

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