by Robert Victor Robert Victor
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Consumers expect delivery times to become faster each year, and when packages arrive late, they notice: A recent consumer study found that 13% of consumers wouldn’t order from a retailer a second time after a late delivery.

Nevertheless, deliveries continue to arrive late, with 78% of consumers receiving a delayed delivery in 2018. Just about anything can cause a delayed delivery, but some culprits occur more often than others.

Read on to learn reasons for delayed deliveries and how your business can prevent them.

Why Do Delayed Deliveries Occur?


You can rightfully blame a lot of things on traffic, including late deliveries. With more people on the road, plus construction, roadblocks, and accidents, traffic is getting worse in most U.S. cities.

As Bill Eisele, a senior research engineer at Texas A&M Transportation Institute, points out, “The problem affects not only commuters, but also manufacturers and shippers whose travel delay costs are passed on to consumers.

No easy solution to traffic exists, but route optimization software can help courier drivers find the quickest route possible in real time to prevent delays.

Weather Conditions

Safety is naturally a priority for all couriers, so when bad weather and road closures strike, delivery delays are inevitable. In these cases, delivery companies can do little but wait out the weather.

Failed Delivery Attempts

Sometimes, the customers are to blame for delayed deliveries. This is the case when a package requires a signature and no one is there to receive it. Drivers have a very short amount of time to wait for a response, or else they risk delaying other packages.

An effective tracking system can solve this issue, giving your customers real-time updates so they know when the package is coming and can plan to be home. In a 2018 study, 88% of consumers said they wanted to be able to track their shipments in real time.

If a customer cannot be home, then they can reschedule or pick up the package at a pickup point with the appropriate ID.


Customs is a significant variable for companies that ship internationally, as having all the required documentation is essential to avoid delays. Partner with a reliable courier that will ensure accurate documentation to prevent clearance delays, which involve your goods being held for inspections or detained.

[Related: Infographic: How to Create the Best Buying Experience for the Customer]

Vehicle Breakdowns

Preventive maintenance can go a long way toward preventing vehicle troubles, but avoiding them altogether is impossible. And when they do happen, you have to act quickly to keep deliveries on schedule.

Technology offers a solution in the form of web-based tracking, allowing you to find the nearest available driver and dispatch them to the breakdown. That driver can then transfer all the packages to their vehicle and ensure that they get to their destinations on time.

Lost Packages

Lost packages are even worse than delayed packages, as customers can’t be sure if they’ll arrive late or never. Damaged or accidentally removed shipping labels, misplacements, and more can contribute to packages becoming lost.

Once again, technology can help. While real-time tracking allows customers to know where their packages are at all times, couriers can also protect both themselves and customers with proof of delivery in the form of photos of signatures and delivered packages, delivery location information, and more.

Technology Issues

As much as technology can help keep packages on track, it can also cause problems when it malfunctions or is out of date. Old technology is particularly problematic, as it often can’t integrate with new software that could better prevent delayed deliveries.

Modern cloud-based software paired with the right hardware, on the other hand, can provide a comprehensive solution and real-time data for 3PLs, transportation companies, and couriers.

Spikes in Shipment Delivery Volumes

Deliveries are often delayed during e-commerce peaks, when the increase in shipment delivery volumes overwhelms companies without the ability to scale efficiently. This occurs most often during the holiday season.

Having sufficient warehouse space and staff is crucial to handling spikes in orders, as is a capable software system. Demand forecasting can also give you an idea of future demand so that you can prepare well in advance.

[Related: How to Prepare for Holiday Retail & E-Commerce Peaks]

Insufficient Visibility

Organizations quickly become inefficient and unorganized when they lack structure. This can potentially lead to damaged, delayed, and even lost shipments.

Fortunately, many software options are available to help you track both orders and products throughout all stages of the supply chain, ensuring full visibility for both you and your customers — as well as accurate and on-time shipments.

How to Prevent Delayed Deliveries

Preventing delayed deliveries requires a holistic approach, one that invests in the right resources — above all, technology — to ensure preparedness in just about any scenario that could arise.

While preparing for each of these reasons for delayed deliveries individually is one option, the most straightforward and effective way to prepare is to partner with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) that has ample experience in providing on-time deliveries, such as Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth can help ensure timely delivery by:

  • Providing state-of-the-art technology that ensures visibility and prevents delays due to traffic, failed delivery attempts, vehicle breakdowns, lost packages, and more
  • Scaling efficiently and effectively when spikes in shipment delivery volumes occur
  • Partnering with a reliable courier that gets the job done

Outsourcing your logistics to Hollingsworth can also save you time and money, making it a smart choice for the overall health of your supply chain and business.

Contact us to see how you can prevent these reasons for delayed deliveries and help your business thrive.

[Related: How to Find the Right 3PL Partner – Fulfillment Questionnaire]

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