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Combat shipping exceptions with automation

Versha Kamwal
August 4, 2021
6
mins read

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On-time order delivery is one of the essential aspects of ecommerce businesses to ensure customer satisfaction. However, it is not easy to have a flawless delivery process. Regardless of how much effort you put into your shipping process, some exceptions tend to occur.

Customers experience can be highly impacted due to these unavoidable circumstances. And the best way to deal with such exceptions is to be prepared, address them immediately, and keep your customers notified through thick and thin.

In this blog, you’ll learn what is a shipping exception, how shipping automation can be a useful tool to help you handle shipping exceptions, and how to resolve the most common shipping exceptions with automation.

What is a shipping exception?

A delivery exception is when an order experiences a delay while in transit due to an unforeseen reason that can affect the scheduled delivery of the order. There are a variety of reasons which can cause shipping exceptions, such as, national holidays, weather conditions, incorrect or damaged shipping labels, recipient not available at the shipping address to receive the order, and other unavoidable circumstances.

However, a shipping exception doesn’t always mean that an order’s expected delivery will be missed or that its delivery status will be dramatically impacted.

Shipping exceptions affect 11% of all shipments.

No matter the reason for the shipping exception, the customers are bound to feel frustrated if their orders can potentially be late. Although shipping exceptions are an unfortunate part of ecommerce but you can still handle them gracefully. After all, they aren’t completely out of your control!

Let's see how.

What is shipping automation?

Shipping automation is the process of integrating technology with shipping in order to streamline shipping functions. Shipping automation gives real-time visibility of the shipping process so that you can track potential issues that can result in unavoidable shipping exceptions. If not prevent shipping exceptions completely, shipping automation can enable you to handle such exceptions for minimising the impact. Moreover, shipping automation can help you to reduce manual work, minimise human error, and boost the efficiency of the entire shipping process.

In case of a shipping exception, nearly 93% of customers want a notification from the ecommerce brand explaining the situation. And, 97% of customers expect that the ecommerce brand would offer them some form of a self-service option for resolving the issue.

How to resolve shipping exceptions with automation?

Most online brands are now opting for shipping automation to streamline their ecommerce order fulfilment to grow their business and keep their customers happy. Here are some most common shipping exceptions that you can solve with shipping automation:

1. Delay of shipment

To keep up with customers expectations, you need to ensure lightning-fast shipping speed. But delays in order shipments are inevitable, and the reason for these delays could be anything —from weather conditions to unforeseen community or political distress.

Sometimes, shipments are stuck somewhere in the supply chain, making it really difficult to ascertain the new delivery date and communicate it to the customer.

Problem:

Any delay in the order delivery can ruin the customer experience, damage your reputation, incur extra costs and revenue loss.

Solution:

  • The estimated delivery date given by the courier partner must consider delayed instances by analysing historic data of particular pincodes. You can then communicate the estimated delivery dates to your customer in order to set right expectations with them.
  • If you have not received any update on a particular shipment in the last 24 hours from the last update, you can auto-flag the order and get in touch with the courier partner asking them to address stuck shipments immediately. You can also ask your courier partner to trigger a notification if a shipment is assumed to be delayed.
  • You must send automated updates to your customers about the delay proactively. This can help you optimise the shipping experience for your customers.

A tech-enabled 3PL like Eshopbox enables you to track and see order updates for your customer shipments. If there is a delay, you are notified proactively by the courier partner so that you can address the situation immediately.

Moreover, Eshopbox provides a branded tracking page to your customers to track their orders in real-time. Additionally, proactive email and SMS notifications are sent to keep your customers to keep them up to date with their orders even if there's a delay.

Notification of delayed shipping by Nordstrom
Notification of delayed shipping by Nordstrom

2. Lost shipment

Sometimes the orders get misplaced or lost in transit due to undetectable reasons. Notably, it can be experienced by any service provider.

Problem:

Lost shipments directly affect customer satisfaction but are out of the ecommerce seller’s control.

Solution:

  • You can track your customer orders via the real-time tracking provided by your courier partner. If the order is untraceable, you can get in touch with the courier partner for a better understanding of the situation.
  • As a priority, it’s best to inform the customers at the earliest and send them a replacement or refund. The customers would appreciate your efforts for providing them with a quick resolution instead of asking ‘Where is my order' (WISMO) over multiple calls and emails.
  • You can also offer a gift card, mini-product inclusions, or coupons to your customer as a token of apology. This will help you increase brand loyalty.
  • As a seller, you also need to ensure that your association with a courier partner must account for such instances. In order to make these losses limited, lost shipments must be reimbursed by the courier partner.

Amazon notifies customers for a lost shipment
Amazon notifying a customer for a lost shipment

3. Damaged shipment

There are chances that the order is damaged in-transit due to inappropriate packaging.

Problem:

Customers can feel agitated if they receive damaged products and will definitely raise a return requests. This can negatively affect your brand image and increase return rates.

Solution:

  • With intelligent packing logic, you can ensure right and secure packaging to avoid any packaging mistake that can result in damaging your customer orders.
  • If you are dealing with fragile items, marking shipments as fragile is a must. You use configurations for custom labels for placing a shipping label ‘fragile’ during order processing to ensure the implementation of special instructions in the shipping process.

Eshopbox takes every precaution to safeguard your customer orders in transit against any damage. By using secure dunnage and packaging materials and paying special attention to fragile products while labelling, Eshopbox ensures that your customers receive their orders in the best condition.

Secure dunnage and packaging
Secure dunnage and packaging

Fragile label used to relay important information
Fragile label used to relay important information

4. Failed delivery attempt

In these cases, the carrier is unable to deliver the order. Sometimes, the customer or recipient is not available at the address to receive the order, or the delivery address is incorrect or incomplete.

Problem:

Such unsuccessful delivery attempts result in incurring extra costs due to rescheduling, informing the customer and scheduling the future delivery.

Solution:

  • You can use interactive voice response (IVR) to generate automated messages or calls to connect with your customers and take necessary inputs such as, ensuring customer availability and asking the complete customer address.
  • With non-delivery report (NDR) management, you can reduce the time spent on undelivered orders and also follow up with the customers to check their availability to receive the order and perform the re-attempts.

Thus, by automating the delivery operations, you can increase the success rate of such delivery attempts.

Notification for a failed delivery attempt
Notification for a failed delivery attempt

5. Fake delivery attempt

A fake delivery attempt is when a customer or a recipient is present at the shipping address but the delivery partner intentionally fakes the scenarios of  'attempting the delivery but the customer was not available'.

Problem:

Fake delivery attempts impact the customer experience adversely. For an ecommerce brand, it is important to empower customers for reporting such cases directly and solve them at the earliest.

Solution:

  • With an interactive voice response (IVR), you can connect with your customers to validate order deliveries.
  • You can also send an automated SMS to the customer, requesting their feedback and response.
  • In case of a fake delivery, you can follow up with the customer for their availability and re-attempt the delivery or opt for RTO (return to origin). Most importantly, take a corrective measure for the fake delivery by the courier partner.

Bottom line

As the competition in the ecommerce landscape is growing, it's getting easier to deliver customer orders faster. However, unavoidable delays can still happen that can make your customers feel distressed. It's now critical that you previsualize your shipping experience by integrating world-class technology into your shipping process. You can redefine customer experiences even in times of uncertainty with greater flexibility and communication, combined with the personalisation of the delivery experience. Ultimately, enabling you to adapt and meet the modern shopper's needs.

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