Shipping containers

Shipping delays. Everyone hates having to live with them, but it seems impossible to live without them. This is especially true when we draw closer to the holiday season and shipping volume spikes all around the country. 

Don’t Add to Your Customers’ Frustrations

From the customer’s point of view, the only thing more annoying than receiving a “delayed shipment” message is trying to find out the status of their order with little or no help from the merchant:

The best thing to do is simply tell your customer what’s happening, and have talented customer support and marketing teams working together to help alleviate some of the customer’s pain. This could be the difference between keeping a customer and losing them to the competition. 

Although some shipping delays are outside your control, how you communicate with customers about delays is not. So, let’s look at some common reasons for shipping delays and how you can mitigate the adverse effects on your business’s public image.

Shipping Delays – Reason 1: Unavoidable Accidental Events

Unavoidable accidental events can encompass events related to traffic, weather, and delivery vehicle breakdowns. These three are the most common reasons for delays.


In today’s world, finding a city without significant traffic is nearly impossible. Construction, major roadblocks, detours, and accidents can contribute to shipping delays. However, courier drivers who use route optimization software can find the fastest possible route and watch for updates in real-time to avoid delay-inducing events.

Weather and Natural Disasters

Bad weather conditions and natural disasters can cause significant shipping delays. At the most basic level, treacherous driving conditions and decreased visibility can be challenging to delivery services. In more serious situations, “Acts of God” such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and landslides could cause delays that last several days.

For example, in September of 2022, Hurricane Ian swept through the Southeast, destroying properties and leaving businesses and hundreds of thousands of people without power. On top of the unbelievable physical destruction, the storm triggered major carrier delays

Motor Vehicle Problems

Occasional vehicle breakdowns are inevitable, causing unavoidable delivery delays. However, with vehicle tracking software, delivery companies can quickly locate the vehicle experiencing issues and dispatch the nearest driver to move all packages to their end destinations as close to on time as possible. 

Customers tend to be the most understanding when a delay is caused by something like unforeseen highway construction, major roadblocks and detours, a snowstorm, or a vehicle with a popped tire on the highway. Therefore, act proactively. For example, before locking yourself into an expected delivery date, check the forecast in the area for any inclement weather report and adjust your delivery window accordingly. 

Shipping Delays – Reasons 2 & 3: Failed Delivery Attempts and Incorrect Address

An incorrect address, a small typo, or an old phone number can cause shipping delays. If the courier service lacks sufficient information to deliver the package to the correct address, it can result in a lot of back and forth between the different parties. The package might also end up getting sent back to the shipper, causing disappointment to the customer and expense for the merchant.

For shipping delays that occur after a package is already out for delivery, make it as easy as possible for customers to interact directly with the shipping courier. This often allows for failed delivery attempts to be easily rescheduled. Supply the necessary information early as part of your post-purchase email. This will allow your customers to handle failed delivery attempts directly with the delivery service. 

Shipping Delays – Reasons 4 & 5: Missing Packages and Tech Malfunction

When a shipping delay is not just a matter of one or two days that can be mitigated with patience, effective customer communication becomes even more critical. Packages can be lost for various reasons, including damaged shipping labels and simple misplacement. 

Tech malfunctions occur for similar reasons, such as human error during input or a lack of effective tracking software.

When a package delay requires a replacement to be sent, it should be an all-hands-on-deck situation. You should be spending less time figuring out exactly why the package has gone missing and be more focused on sending a replacement as quickly as possible. 

Delayed Delays – Reasons 6 & 7: Delivery Volume Surges and Lack of Visibility

When predictable surges occur, such as the expected influx of orders around the holidays, from sales, promotions, or the “busy season” for your industry, you have the ability to plan ahead. Upstaff your customer service team and space out the orders by spreading out your promotions. It’s in your hands.

Unexpected surges are more challenging to deal with. For example, when the pandemic forced a global lockdown, many people were suddenly working from home. Webcams quickly sold out, and tech companies were scrambling to meet customer demand. In these types of situations, communicating the status of orders everywhere possible will help your customers understand and anticipate what to expect. 

Visibility goes hand in hand. By supplying order tracking information, you inject visibility into the shipping procedure. Shoppers should have the option to choose SMS or email and be able to check in for up-to-the-minute updates on where their package is.

Shipping Delay Communication Best Practices 

Shipping delays stink, and everyone knows it, but with proper customer communications in place, you can prevent shipping delays from derailing your good relationships with your customers. Here’s some advice.

Let AmeriShip Solve Your Shipping Delay Problems

From acts of God to outright human error, there are many reasons why shipments might be delayed and many ways for customers to complain. Take an unexpected and unprecedented global pandemic, for instance. No one could have predicted the effects on the supply chain that occurred. All we could do was deal with them when they happened.

Founded in 2012, AmeriShip has achieved a reputation for top-of-the-line courier services. We offer the very best shipping service at competitive rates. We hate shipping delays and pride ourselves on doing our best to eliminate them.We provide our many clients with the customer service they deserve when shipping small packages, medical specimens, and pharmaceuticals. We utilize the latest technology to streamline the shipping process and provide an easy way to track packages. See how we stack up against the competition by clicking here!