We all hate transit hurdles and delays. Flight delays trains not running, rush hour traffic – no matter what the disruption entails, nobody likes holdups between one point to another. The same applies to shipping.
But despite global events like pandemics, economic downturns, and wars, your customer still expects timely order deliveries, with 67% of consumers expecting two-day delivery. Whenever a shipping delay interferes with client expectations, disappointment becomes inevitable.
So to stay in the game, you should manage customer shipping expectations and stay ahead of any delays and lower their chances of snowballing; this detailed guide has the right insights to help you outmanoeuvre the common supply chain hurdles.
The State of Shipping Delays in 2023
Global supply chains experienced significant disruptions in 2022 due to the lingering effects of nationwide lockdowns, international shipping restrictions, and the disruptive events resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) noted that by May, approximately 20% of the global container ship fleet was experiencing port congestion at major stationing points worldwide. This bottleneck caused a significant delay in shipping times, with the transit from China to the United States taking 74 days longer than usual.
But as 2023 progresses, consumers are experiencing fewer instances of prolonged shipping delays. One possible reason for this improvement is the gradual resolution of freight congestion, as manufacturers and suppliers deal with excess inventory from the heightened demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, many e-commerce businesses have shifted their primary concerns from supply chain and shipping delays. Instead, they are focusing on the potential impact of rising inflation and a looming recession, which may lead to restrained customer spending.
Therefore, to navigate ongoing supply challenges successfully, it is crucial to prioritize delivering a timely and exceptional shipping experience.
A Review of the Common Shipping Issues
As you’ve probably realized, navigating the complex shipping industry can sometimes feel like a high-stakes game of logistics. From when a product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse to when it reaches the customer’s doorstep, numerous hurdles and challenges can arise and cause business headaches and customer frustration due to shipping delays.
The most common mail delivery setbacks include:
Disruptive worldwide events and emergencies are arguably the first, most obvious setbacks to shipping companies and e-commerce agencies. The most recent examples of such events include:
- The Coronavirus pandemic, which caused businesses to lose billions of dollars
- The six-day Suez Canal blockage that held up goods worth billions of dollars each day
- The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a situation that has led to the closure of vital Russian ports and the halting of maritime operations in the Black Sea.
Unfortunately, merchants can neither foretell nor control such emergencies. Thus, the resulting supply chain snarl-ups and delays can be difficult to handle.
Shipping Container Problems
Merchants and logistics companies may also encounter hurdles while transporting or storing shipping containers. These problems can significantly disrupt supply chain operations and may include the following:
This prevalent issue occurs when containers are inadequately sealed or stored in areas prone to flooding. You can mitigate this problem by ensuring that containers are tightly sealed and storing them in dry locations.
Rodents can infiltrate containers through small openings, causing havoc on stored goods. Fortunately, you can manage this issue by sealing all openings diligently, eliminating any potential entry points for rodents. In addition, ensure you store containers in clean and dry environments.
Finally, you may encounter this consequential issue that arises from inadequate support or overloading of containers. As a result, you may encounter deformation or collapse of the container structure during transportation or storage. Therefore, ensure you adequately support your stacked or secured containers during transportation. In addition, strictly adhere to weight restrictions and avoid overloading containers.
Environmental factors and natural disasters can result in major shipping delays. Treacherous conditions and poor visibility can limit ground, air, and maritime transport. But in more severe situations, floods, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, and other “Acts of God” can inconvenience the movement of cargo ships and other logistical operations.
For instance, hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in the Southeast in September 2022. The condition caused widespread property damage and power outages. Beyond the evident physical devastation, the storm significantly disrupted carrier operations, leading to delivery delays.
UPS, for instance, halted deliveries in 800 areas immediately following Hurricane Ian’s landfall, while FedEx suspended operations in 151 cities during the peak of the hurricane’s impact. Additionally, the US Postal Service temporarily closed 14 facilities in Florida, causing a slowdown in shipping for merchants operating in the region.
Another category of shipping issues relates to the cargo. Here, you’ll likely experience the following setbacks.”
- Damage to goods in transit – Goods can incur damages during transportation due to rough handling, adverse weather conditions, or inadequate packaging materials. Thus, ensure proper protective measures, especially for delicate or valuable items.
- Delivery delays – Factors such as inclement weather, customs procedures, or issues within the shipping company can cause these shipping delays. Fortunately, you can manage expectations by monitoring the progress of your shipment and staying prepared for potential delays.
- Loss or theft of cargo – Unfortunately, this hurdle poses a significant shipping risk, usually resulting from inadequate security measures. But you can circumvent and mitigate the risk by implementing additional protective measures, such as inventory tracking when shipping valuable or irreplaceable items.
- Incorrect documentation – Paperwork completion errors or discrepancies in the shipping company’s records can cause complications. So always communicate with the shipping company and clarify any uncertainties regarding the shipment’s documentation before sending it out.
All these cargo-related supply chain issues can cause headaches and major delivery delays for all shipping industry stakeholders. Thus, you need an elaborate shipping plan outlining each stakeholder’s responsibility and the applicable lines of communication.
Freight Cost Increases
Financial hurdles always come up in the form of rising shipping costs. For instance, at the moment, global oil prices are relatively higher than what we saw last year. Unfortunately, fuel prices are expected to rise even further as Russia, the third-largest oil producer globally, faces sanctions.
These increased expenses mostly trickle down to shippers, amplifying the already high international shipping costs. The conflict’s impact extends to ground transportation in Europe, where trucking logjams and supply chain disruptions are reported across the region.
In the United States and Canada, scarcity of warehouse space and resurfacing rail backlogs are becoming significant concerns. Additionally, looming labour disputes pose a potential threat to ground transport operations. These factors collectively contribute to higher shipping costs and fluctuations in transit times for imported and exported goods.
Your best chance to navigate these challenges effectively is to stay updated on industry developments and remain vigilant about the latest updates and price fluctuations. This way, you can secure the best possible service at the most favourable price.
National and International Holidays
Carriers often suspend operations on notable holidays, disrupting order pickups and shipments. Even a single-day delay can create significant backlogs and bottlenecks, further prolonging the shipping process.
This issue is particularly pronounced during the fourth quarter holiday season when order volumes spike. During these times, couriers may struggle to cope with the increased demand, resulting in widespread shipping delays. Moreover, the accumulation of shipments during non-operational days overwhelms the supply chain, exacerbating the situation.
Proactive planning is crucial to overcome shipping hurdles caused by holidays. Your first step should be communicating with your customers about potential delays and setting realistic expectations regarding shipping times. In addition, collaborate closely with carriers to understand their holiday schedules and plan accordingly. Finally, consider alternative shipping options or prioritize critical shipments to maintain a smooth operation.
E-commerce and logistics firms encounter shipping issues that cause massive shipping delays and business disruptions. Numerous hurdles exist, from global emergencies and weather anomalies to cargo-related inconveniences and increases in shipping costs. Fortunately, you don’t have to experience this, as multiple best practices can help you navigate shipping challenges.
Generally, you need proactive measures and strategic planning. By staying informed, managing customer expectations, implementing protective measures, and adapting to industry developments, businesses can minimize disruptions and maintain a reliable shipping operation. In the long run, you’ll easily meet client expectations, translating to satisfied customers and more business.
Finally, it helps to partner with a reputable shipping expert to easier manoeuvre these setbacks and limit your losses. Fortunately, you’re on the right site. Sign up with us for free and with zero obligation to see how much you can save today!