A shipment exception, or delivery exception, is when an unexpected event occurs affecting the delivery of a shipment. Simply put, there has been a delay with the delivery. But remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean the original expected delivery date will be missed. It’s just a heads up that something has gone wrong and to be prepared for a possible late delivery.
Shipment exceptions are common, no matter which carrier you ship with. It’s often something out of your control as a merchant, with the most common reasons being:
- Damaged labels or incorrect addresses
- Damaged items
- No signature
- Inclement weather
- Customs delays
With damaged labels or incorrect addresses, the result could be that the carrier reaches out to you for clarification, or simply that they send it back to you. Make sure your labels are always attached properly and in a place they are least likely to get damaged.
The best way to avoid damaged items, is to pack items properly and carefully. Often if a package gets badly damaged in transit, the carrier will deem it better to send it back to you rather than deliver it to the customer.
Some shipments require a signature on delivery. If no one is there to sign for the item, this will also result in a shipment exception. What happens next depends on the carrier. They may try to deliver it again another day. After a few failed attempts, they will probably send it back to you, the merchant. This is somewhat out of your hands, but make sure your customers know they will need to sign for something if you’ve sent it with that requirement.
The weather is completely out of your hands and can result in delivery delays. But when using AfterShip, you’ll see in real-time when a delivery exception occurs so you can inform your customers. They will probably be more understanding of weather-related delays.
If you’re selling internationally, customs delays can also result in a “delivery exception” status. Paying proper duties and fees along with providing the appropriate documentation can help speed up the customs process. Get in touch with your shipping carrier for more information about customs documentation.