One of the most important factors in e-commerce is precise delivery. Doing your best to meet your customers' expectations and providing timely delivery is as critical as ever, with the e-commerce market innovating itself by the minute. Nonetheless, no matter how much time and effort you put into your logistics strategy, delivery exceptions are bound to happen. Unexpected delays resulting in delivery exception not only bring your fulfillment operations to a halt but can also cause a significant decline in customer trust and loyalty. Delivery exceptions occur when a certain shipment comes across an unexpected event, changing the date and course of delivery. It is important to learn the delivery exception meaning, why they might occur, and how to handle them to provide a smooth delivery process.
What is Delivery Exception?
So what is a delivery exception to begin? A delivery exception happens when an e-commerce package is delayed temporarily in transit. When a delivery exception occurs, it does not always entail that the customer's package is late or cancelled. At this point, it is a known fact to both the customer and the company that some trouble may have occurred during the package's progression, resulting in the intervention of the fulfillment process. Numerous things can go wrong even with the most complex and robust e-commerce system, forcing companies to develop a plan B for such unexpected and unavoidable pain points. Delivery exceptions need to be handled with care because they ultimately have a direct effect on customer satisfaction. Now that you have found the answer to the question of "what does delivery exception mean," you are ready to dive into the good stuff and master the techniques of handling delivery exceptions gracefully.
Why Are Delivery Exceptions Important?
Delivery exceptions are a point of frustration for both the sellers and the customers, even though most of them occur unintentionally and are often unpreventable. A delivery exception often happens during the transit of the package. Even the most reliable e-commerce order tracking systems are bound to come across delivery exceptions at some point. This may result in undelivered or delayed parcels, leading to angry and dissatisfied customers. A business needs to be prepared for such occurrences and have a solid system for dealing with the delivery exception process.
What are the Causes of Delivery Exceptions?
Various reasons may cause delivery exceptions, the most common ones being as follows:
Insufficient documentation: If your package does not have all of the necessary information to reach its destination, you may encounter delivery exceptions caused by insufficient data. While local and ground freight companies are less likely to encounter these types of delivery exceptions, ocean freight is one type of logistics that requires various documents for the company to manage custody and inventory. The errors that may occur due to insufficient documentation can also come up when the packaging label does not have the related barcode on the box.
Damaged, unreadable, or missing labels: Speaking of shipping labels, these are the most important parts of your package that help the order reach its destination on time. When shipping labels are missing certain information needed for a flawless shipment, the carrier will verify the address while unavoidably putting the shipment on hold. Making a mistake on the ZIP code or forgetting to input specific data on the address may cause unwanted delays or even, in some cases, returned packages.
Official holidays: It is known that carriers do not operate on federal holidays and other official holidays. It is important to make sure that an urgent shipment is not placed around any of these days and local holidays that may be present in other countries in case of international deliveries.
Recipient not available: Sometimes, some packages may require a signature or are only deliverable to the recipient itself. In such cases, if no one is home to pick up the order, the shipping carrier will return the order to the fulfillment centre. While some carriers send the package back to the seller right away, some may opt for reattempting a delivery to the recipient the next day. It will notify both parties of the process, so the customer is aware that they are expected to be present during the delivery.
Unfavourable weather options: Weather conditions are also a common cause that may result in unwanted delivery exceptions. A wide range of conditions may result in delays in shipping, including unpassable routes on highways, rain and hailstorms, flooding, earthquakes, wildfires, and so on.
Delays on customs: During international shipping, various delivery exceptions are bound to happen due to specific regulations and rules applied at customs. Delays at ports, lack of paperwork, package reviews, and wrong traffic codes are the most common delivery exception causes you can expect your packages to come across at customs check.
FedEx Delivery Exceptions
FedEx delivery exceptions can happen due to holiday hang-ups, incorrect documentation, the recipient not being present, or certain custom delays. With FedEx shipment exceptions, you might also receive a notice with the PMX code, meaning that the delivery could not be concluded via the carrier's usual route. FedEx generally attempts for delivery the next day.
UPS Delivery Exceptions
When a package or shipment comes across an unforeseen event, a UPS delivery exception may occur, resulting in a change to the expected delivery date. Address Unknown, Damage to Shipment, and Signature Not Received are the most common setbacks you may encounter during UPS delivery exceptions. You will see an exception notice from UPS when you log into your account or attempt to track your order.
USPS Delivery Exceptions
Incorrect recipient addresses and federal holidays are the most widespread causes for USPS delivery exceptions. In such cases, you will be looking at an exception notice during the tracking of your package.
Here’s a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of USPS and DHL shipping services for e-commerce and 3PL companies.
How to Handle & Avoid Delivery Exceptions
Delivery exceptions are a part of the logistics process that neither the customer nor the company can control most of the time. That being said, there are certain precautions and steps you can take when you come across delivery exceptions.
- Contact the carrier right away.
Find the package tracking number via the carrier's website to help you figure out the package's location and the delivery exception reason. Check to see if the problem can be solved on your side and looking for provision to provide the right information over the phone. This may help the shipment get back on its way and reach the recipient with minimal delay.
- Contact the customer.
Once you have verified the cause of the delivery exception, contact your customer immediately and provide the renewed expected delivery date to regain their trust and ensure them that everything is on track. If there is missing information on the customer's part, they can also assist you in filling out the missing blanks with the correct data and getting the order back on track. This will also show your customer base that you are aware of the situations and take the necessary precautions to fix the problem as soon as possible. To convert customer service nightmares into opportunities to gain trusting and loyal customers, choose honest and consistent communication throughout the entire process.
- Resend the package & issue a refund when needed.
If the package will not arrive at the said location to the recipient any time soon, and if there is no easy solution to fix the delivery exception, make sure to provide your customer with options to either receive a refund or reattempt another delivery. When the carrier has lost the package, or there is an indefinite amount of time until the package is delivered, this may be your only choice. Delivery exception shipment is a tricky process. Online businesses need to tackle both the customer and the carrier requests simultaneously, so choose wisely.
Following your carrier's labelling and packing instructions closely, being exact on the weight and size of the package, using weather-resistant labels, and verifying that your delivery address is correct are the other important steps you need to take to minimize the damage of delivery exceptions and avoid them entirely. Providing your customer with the tracking number as soon as the delivery is on its way can also reassure them that the process is under control. They need to be present at the specified date and time to receive the package safely. Don't forget that these strategies will help you minimize the risks that come with delivery exceptions, leaving causes such as inclement weather and natural disasters completely out of your hands.
Logiwa is the leading cloud WMS and order fulfillment software for B2C and direct-to-consumer business. Request a Demo and start to scale up your high-volume fulfillment operations.
Written by Erhan Musaoglu
Erhan Musaoglu is the CEO and Co-Founder of Logiwa.