Following the rise of e-commerce, shipping has become one of the most important parts of running a retail business.
An excellent shipping experience can create fiercely loyal customers. On the other hand, a bad experience involving shipping problems could drive consumers away before they click “confirm order.”
The shipping process is far from perfect. It’s difficult to get a box from starting point to destination without hitting a few bumps along the way.
A great retailer impresses customers by solving shipping problems as they arise.
Here are a few of the most common shipping problems sellers encounter, as well as strategies for resolving them.
5 Common Shipping Problems
1. High Shipping Costs
Shipping can be surprisingly expensive, for both customers and retailers.
The cost of shipping a package may depend on many factors, including how much the package weighs, where it’s going and how fast it needs to get there. Sometimes, businesses aren’t sure how to handle high shipping costs.
One option is to let customers foot the bill.
By charging customers precisely what their order will cost to ship, you allow people to order your products without worrying about delivery cutting into profit margins.
Charging customers for shipping may backfire, however.
One survey found 63 percent of canceled orders result from excessive shipping costs. Charging a small, flat-rate shipping fee could help reduce costs without driving customers away. But offering reduced and free shipping could also boost business by increasing orders.
Communicate transparently with customers about shipping costs to avoid surprises at checkout. And try to keep shipping costs low by comparing shipping options with different carriers.
2. Unexpected International Fees
International shipping can be even more expensive than domestic shipping, since packages may have to travel farther.
International packages may also be subject to local duties and taxes. These shipping problems often lead small retailers to avoid international shipping altogether.
You want to do business with as many people as possible. But you may not have the funds to cover international shipping alone.
Instead of shutting down the possibility of international sales entirely, consider leaving the choice up to the consumer.
Retailers should make sure their websites clearly outline their international shipping policies. Often, this means telling international customers they may need to pay extra shipping fees or local duties to get their orders.
Though international shipping may cost customers more, it allows you to grow your business outside your country.
3. Shipping Delays
Shipping delays frustrate customers and retailers. Once a package is in the mail, it’s primarily out of the seller’s hands.
Though delivery services may work hard to deliver packages on time, they sometimes come up short, especially during busy periods.
Services like UPS often struggle to deliver mail on time during the holiday season, due to high volume and an uptick in online retail orders. To keep customers happy during these periods, it’s a good idea to plan.
During the holidays, emphasize early ordering and help shoppers by highlighting estimated delivery dates.
Aim to mail orders before drop-dead dates to ensure packages reach their destinations on time. These dates vary by carrier and year, so do some research first.
As a best practice, communicate with customers throughout the shipping process, and alert them if it looks like their order could get delayed.
4. Food Packaging Problems
Maybe you are planning on sending Christmas cookies to a family in New Brunswick. Maybe you’re a bakery in British Columbia looking to ship cakes nationwide.
Whether you’re a food shipping firm operating out of Ontario or a farmer shipping food out of Manitoba, you need to make sure that the food won’t soil mid-journey. That means investing in quality packaging and a package leak detector, which should meet the criteria listed below.
- Food Compatibility
First and foremost, you must make sure that you pack your foodstuff in packing that is compatible with its transportation needs.
Your packaging shouldn’t be too soft or crumble easily. That said, metal or plastic packaging can also create oven-like conditions, which can cause food to spoil.
You, therefore, want to make sure you are using a leak detector that is made to detect spoilage and leaks with the particular type of foodstuff you are shipping.
If you are shipping dairy products, for example, you’ll need to make sure that you get a leak detector that specializes in detecting dairy leaks and spoilage. If you are shipping products with fruits and vegetables, you’ll need to make sure you have a leak detector that can handle that.
Of course, the best leak detectors can handle many kinds of foodstuffs. If you ship often or long distances, these more versatile units may be worth it.
- Quality Chemical Detection
How does leak detection work?
A package leak detector has special sensors in place that can detect chemical changes in the air as well as temperature change.
When these units register these changes, an alarm is triggered. This allows you to address things before they get too far.
For example, if the temperature climbs above a certain threshold, the alarm sounding can ensure you move it to a cooler area before it’s too late.
- A Loud Alarm
Of course, that is contingent upon your actually being able to hear the alarm. A quiet alarm won’t catch your attention and, thus, won’t do any good.
You, therefore, need to look for leak detectors that have nice loud alarm systems that can be heard throughout the shipping area of the vehicle in which the food is being transported.
- Eco-Friendly Packaging
Environmental consciousness is more important than ever. Global warming threatens the whole world, especially snowbound countries like Canada.
Whenever possible, try and avoid using plastic packaging and instead opt for materials that are eco-friendly while still being sturdy enough to protect your food during transit.
- Trustworthy Tools
When it comes to something as important as making sure that the food you ship stays fresh and doesn’t spoil, you need to make sure that you’re using packages and packaging detectors that you can trust. Purchasing a detector to stick in there won’t do any good if it’s defective. You will, therefore, want to read reviews and make sure that you are using detectors that are well-reviewed and trustworthy.
5. Lost or Damaged Packages
For a retailer, a lost or damaged package is a worst-case scenario.
People who don’t receive their orders may feel disappointed and frustrated, so retailers need to handle this shipping problem well or risk losing customers.
The best thing you can do if a product gets lost or damaged is to make the customer feel taken care of.
You can either give that customer a full refund or offer to send the product again. People may also appreciate an extra token of
Once you’ve resolved this one of the most common shipping problems, you can investigate what caused it.
Do you need to switch carriers? Was the packing inside the box insufficient?
Reevaluating your shipping methods can help prevent similar problems in the future.
6. Long-Distance Returns
Even if a product arrives completely intact, some customers may not feel satisfied. If a customer wants to exchange or return a product, it’s usually good business etiquette to pay for the shipping.
Ultimately, though, the decision remains up to every individual business.
Customers who understand returns are limited may be more careful when making purchases, which restricts how often you’ll need to resolve this problem.
The best way to tackle long-distance returns is to outline your policy in advance.
Ship with Confidence
Between high shipping costs and delayed delivery, a lot can go wrong during the shipping process. However, the more shipping problems you tackle, the easier problem-solving becomes.
Dealing with shipping difficulties is a part of excellent customer service. Retailers can impress customers by handling shipping problems with grace. By planning and doing your research, you can ship merchandise with confidence.