Shipper tips

April 4, 2023

- Written By

Annie Asai

7 Common Problems with Delivery Shippers Face—and How to Fix Them

With expectations for seamless ecommerce deliveries at an all-time high, merchants and 3PLs are dedicating a growing amount of time and resources to parcel and shipping management.

Effective parcel management enables businesses to meet customer expectations for stress-free delivery, reduce shipping costs, minimize delays, and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

When 46% of consumers rank reliability as one of the top attributes they look for in a brand, benchmarks like on-time delivery are no longer optional; they are the bare minimum to avoid getting a bad review.

However, shippers face a range of challenges when it comes to delivery management. These include managing rising shipping costs, providing good customer support, and quickly resolving delivery issues to meet rapid delivery windows. The growing demand for next-day and even same-day delivery means businesses have less room than ever for inefficiencies or mistakes in shipping.

So, what are the most common barriers to shipping optimization? Let's take a look.

1. Shipping can be costly, especially when working with national carriers

It's no secret that shipping costs are only heading in one direction—up. Escalating shipping expenses undermine profitability and make it more difficult to achieve rapid delivery times, especially for smaller ecommerce businesses that don't qualify for wholesale pricing with nationwide carriers.

The problem? Shipping rates with national carriers rarely stay static. As small parcel volumes grow, more businesses compete for carrier capacity for their online orders. This leads to bigger GRIs (General Rate Increases) as carriers pass these higher operational costs onto their customers.

In addition to base shipping rates, merchants also need to factor in various additional (sometimes surprise!) fees, such as fuel surcharges, residential delivery fees, and peak season surcharges. Since surcharges can be introduced with little notice, it can be hard for merchants to predict their shipping costs in advance.

But with a dizzying number of carrier options available, each with different service levels and coverage areas, many brands end up using one of the big three (UPS, FedEx, or USPS) to avoid the headaches of managing their own shipping strategy. Yet this often results in businesses leaving unnecessary dollars on the table.

The solution

A good way to navigate costly (and complex) shipping rates is to work with a provider that can give you access to cost-effective and upfront pricing.

Enter Tusk Logistics. We cover your shipping needs by connecting you to our network of regional parcel carriers with pre-negotiated, lower rates compared to nationals.

Tusk also gives shippers more predictability and confidence by providing upfront pricing on different shipping rates. Unlike national carriers, which can surprise you with surcharges and other fees, Tusk shows your actual costs right from the get-go.

2. Poor customer service

It's not unusual for emerging ecommerce businesses to feel like small fish in a big pond—at least so far as major parcel carriers are concerned.

Nationwide carriers typically reserve account managers or streamlined customer service channels for businesses that ship a massive volume of parcels per month. So, if a company isn't shipping thousands of parcels, it's likely they will be fighting for attention with larger shippers.

This doesn't just mean higher delivery costs. It can also lead to more difficulty resolving timely issues such as delayed deliveries or missing parcels, which can cause a brand's reputation to suffer.

The solution

It pays to work with smaller regional parcel carriers that provide better and more personalized client services.

Now, staying on top of several shipping vendors can be challenging, which is where Tusk comes in.

In addition to helping you manage multiple carrier relationships from one platform, Tusk is always on-hand to support you and your customers with carrier issues. Part of our offering is providing a consistent contact point for shipper advice and assistance.

3. Carrier management is complex and switching can be difficult

Partnering with just one or two shipping providers gives businesses much less flexibility and choice over delivery services. Yet managing a multi-carrier shipping strategy can be a daunting prospect. Researching different carriers and comparing features such as rates, service levels, coverage, labeling requirements, and real-time tracking capabilities can be time-consuming for merchants, especially when these things change regularly throughout the year.

Moreover, it's your business's responsibility to ensure you're meeting carrier requirements and procedures—or you could be on the hook for costly chargebacks or delayed deliveries.

Far from being a "set and forget" system, using multiple shipping companies requires the ongoing monitoring of carrier performance and shipping rates to make sure you're still getting the best deal.

The solution

Tusk's technology and know-how provide shippers with proactive support to manage multiple carriers through one consolidated platform instead of via separate integrations, making it easy to stay up to date.

4. Difficulty identifying package issues

Once a parcel leaves your warehouse and is in the hands of the delivery driver, there's limited ability to keep track of packages and whether they've reached their final destination.

In most cases, a business doesn't receive issue alerts until after the affected customer reaches out to their customer service team. This lack of visibility makes it impossible for brands to solve delivery problems proactively, leading to long wait times.

In the meantime, the customer is left wondering what happened to their order (unfortunately, the excuse "it's the carrier's fault" is unlikely to get your brand off the hook with an upset customer).

The solution

In an ideal world, businesses could pick up on issues such as a wrong address or delivery drivers not taking the most efficient routes in real time, before they cause problems.

Tusk's proactive customer support model includes package tracking during middle and last-mile delivery, with our integration feeding package data directly into the WMS or shipping system. Our team also actively monitors shipments, so we can immediately flag potential problems. This allows us (and your teams) to jump into action to prevent issues like late deliveries.

5. Shipping delays

Shipping delays are generally outside a business's control, though there are times when they're more likely to occur. For example, parcel carriers experience a spike in shipment volume during the holiday season. Limited capacity can lead to delays in processing and package delivery as carriers work to manage volume and prioritize shipments.

This also happened at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when consumers pivoted to online shopping, leaving delivery businesses struggling to keep up as parcel delivery volume increased by 70%. Adverse weather events, poor route planning, customs clearance, and incorrect shipping labels are also factors that can slow down the delivery process.

Merchants are more likely to experience shipment delays if they partner with national parcel carriers. Reasons for this include larger geographic areas of coverage, which can mean longer delivery routes. Nationwide carriers also have complex supply chains that involve multiple facilities, sortation centers, and transportation modes, creating more opportunities for package handling and delivery errors.

The solution

You can minimize shipping delays by working with regional parcel carriers. Compared to national carriers like UPS, FedEx, and USPS, regional carriers are limited to areas of smaller geographic coverage, which gives them better knowledge of local geography, weather, and transportation routes. This can help them avoid delays and manage their operations more effectively.

Here's the good news: Tusk integrates with regional parcel carriers to pass on the benefits of faster delivery and cheaper shipping to shippers. Our system makes managing multiple regional carriers across the country easy, so you don't have to feel pressured to turn to national carriers.

6. Challenges in taking action on parcel data

Interpreting parcel data can be complex, especially if you're using multiple carriers. Depending on the vendor, data may include or omit certain variables, such as package weight, on-time delivery, accuracy, average cost, etc.

Data may also come from multiple sources, such as parcel carriers themselves, your warehouse management system, or an ecommerce platform, which can result in missing, inaccurate, or duplicate info. All of this complicates your efforts to understand the performance of your carriers.

The solution

Tusk makes your shipping data actionable by tracking every shipping label you generate, giving you an in-depth overview of carrier performance, costs, and savings. Every month, we send you a recap report that includes the following:

  • Number of parcels you shipped with Tusk in a given month
  • Average Tusk label cost
  • Average cost with other carriers
  • Estimated savings per parcel
  • Estimated total label savings in a given month

That way, you can make informed decisions and optimize your shipping strategy.

7. Lack of carrier accountability for late packages

While most carriers have policies and procedures to ensure the timely delivery of packages, there is still the risk of packages being delayed, lost, or damaged. Unfortunately, carriers won't always take full responsibility for these issues. It may state in the fine print that a carrier has limited liability for lost, late, or damaged packages. This can make it difficult for an ecommerce business to recover the full value of the package and the associated shipping costs.

Even if they are liable for expenses, carriers can find tricky ways to discourage shippers from pursuing refunds. For example, you might have to navigate several pages deep into a carrier's website before finding the right team to contact. Or the claims process might be overly complex and time-consuming, increasing the odds that a business will abandon it.

The solution

While it isn't always possible to remedy disputes, you can count on the Tusk team to work with the carrier on your behalf and find a solution that keeps your customers happy. Depending on the situation, we can file a claim for you or negotiate a solution, such as rapidly delivering a replacement order.

Final words

Order fulfillment and shipping are becoming increasingly more complex and competitive. It's more important than ever to design a post-purchase experience that includes seamless and reliable shipping and delivery.

Doing so helps you improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. In today's fast-paced retail environment, shoppers expect quick and efficient delivery of their orders, and businesses that can't meet these expectations risk losing customers to competitors.

So when you streamline order fulfillment and eliminate the common shipping problems above, you’ll not only improve customer satisfaction, you’ll also increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, and boost overall profitability.

To that end, teaming up with operational providers like Tusk Logistics helps simplify your processes and keep shipping challenges to a minimum.

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