What is a Delivery Exception? Here’s how to Respond to them

What is a Delivery Exception? Here's how to Respond to them

There are over 26 million thriving e-commerce sites globally. Advancement in technology and better internet access has had a positive ripple effect on online businesses. Finding online businesses competing against established fortune 500 companies has become everyday life.

But wait, this success doesn’t come without unique challenges. The most biting issue most online businesses have to grapple with is delivery exceptions.

The quest to keep up with customer expectations is ever elusive. Most packages get to their addresses promptly and as planned. Unfortunately, there are also moments when things don’t go as planned. This is where delivery exceptions come in.

This article unravels why delivery exceptions happen, what risk they pose to your business and how to solve issues better and manage delivery exceptions if/when they occur.

What is a Delivery Exception?

You have a delivery exception when a package set for delivery fails or delays reaching its destination on time.

Numerous reasons may lead to a delivery exception. From missing addresses to technical problems with the delivery truck, there’s no way to guarantee that each package will get to its recipient on time. Some do, but some don’t.

A delivery exception doesn’t always mean that the intended delivery won’t happen. It only means that the package’s delivery status will be significantly impacted for one reason or another.

The majority of delivery exception cases are successfully resolved. However, there are a few instances when there’s no way to trace the package or get it to the recipient.

Read on to learn more about common causes and ways to mitigate delivery exceptions.

Common Causes of Delivery Exceptions?

There’s a long list of reasons why a package may encounter a delivery exception. The most common culprits include:

Missed Drop-off

If the delivery driver gets to the given address, they need the client’s signature to complete the delivery process. If there’s no one home when the delivery driver arrives, they have no choice but to leave with the package and postpone the delivery. This is what’s known as a missed drop-off.

Lost Orders

When you’ve got hundreds of deliveries to make per day or week, a few packages are likely to get misplaced. Some packages can be lost during transit because of a shipping carrier mix-up, missing documentation, or even before leaving your store or warehouse.

When no one can locate a package set for a particular address, you face a delivery exception scenario.


In the U.S., delivery services continue even on local holidays. However, if the package should be shipped overseas on a federal holiday, there’s a good chance it won’t get there on time. Some countries halt all operations, including package deliveries, on a national holiday because this is not a business day.

Customs Delays

International deliveries must pass through customs before gaining entry into the country. Some packages don’t take too long to pass through customs and are delivered on time. However, the long inspection process for some packages may lead to unforeseen delays that can cause delivery exceptions.

The Delivery Diver Encounters Problems

The lack of communication or wrong address means that the delivery driver cannot make a successful delivery. Also, when the logistics office fails to update the expected delivery date, there’s no telling when a package should get to the recipient.

Traffic Accidents

Most delivery truck drivers are experienced enough to avoid accidents. They also know the best routes to use to avoid getting stuck in traffic.

Unfortunately, there are instances where the driver encounters traffic snarl-ups that can cause late deliveries. A traffic accident, damaged road, or road constructions are a few reasons behind delivery exceptions.

Wrong Address

For the package to get to the correct recipient, the writing on the label must be clear and accurate. Otherwise, the package is rendered undeliverable. Delivery exceptions, in this case, often come up when doing international shipping.

Missing Details and Documentation

During transit or loading, shipping labels may get damaged or go missing. Issues may arise at customs due to incorrect paperwork. Before the case is resolved, a delivery exception is inevitable.

Damaged Package

Accidents, harsh weather, and human error are a few culprits behind shipping label destruction and package damage. Therefore, it becomes necessary to cancel the shipment and send out a replacement to avoid or minimize delays or the impact of a delivery exception.

Inclement Weather

Harsh weather conditions can hinder delivery trucks from venturing outside and make some roads impassable. In the event of a storm, strong winds, heavy snow, or rain, deliveries can be delayed, albeit temporarily.

Luckily, there exist effective ways to mitigate and prevent the above-listed causes of delivery exceptions. They include proper planning and convenient technology use.

A logistics company or fulfillment center can help streamline the delivery process and eliminate delivery exception incidences. At Capabl, we oversee and ensure efficient collaboration between brands and fulfillment centers. We aim to ensure that deliveries happen on time and recurring issues are nipped in the bud.

The Key Role of Delivery Exceptions in Your Business

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Is it not in your best interest to measure up to their expectations by making timely deliveries?

Technologically advanced systems come in handy and contribute immensely to increasing on-time deliveries, improving customer satisfaction rates, and enhancing customer return rates.

While no business owner wants to hear of delivery exceptions happening in their business, they are unavoidable. However, delivery exceptions come with invaluable lessons that help mold your business into an efficient entity that runs without hitches.

How a Delivery Exception Impacts Businesses

A major lesson you learn by facing delivery exceptions is when you realize that updating the recipient and informing them of the delay, reassures them that you have things under control. Meanwhile, you and your team must work tirelessly to keep your word, solve the issue, and avoid disappointing the customer.

Ways that delivery exceptions can impact a business include:

Wasted Resources

Delivery exceptions cause delays which may lead to cancellations, working overtime, and replacements — all of which lead to the loss of potential revenue and wastage of resources


When a customer calls to enquire about a delayed or missed package delivery, you must have information at your fingertips regarding the issue. What’s more, you must have the skill and experience it takes to reassure the customer and successfully solve the issue.

Delivery exceptions tend to bring out inefficiencies in the running and delivery process of your business.

Bad Customer Experiences

It’s bad enough that the customer doesn’t get their package on time. It’s even worse when nothing is done to resolve the issue let alone reassure the customer that you have everything under control.

This is the number one reason why customers leave bad ratings, negative online reviews, and file complaints.

Loss in Overhead

When the dispatcher, customer support team member, or delivery driver spends extra time due to a delivery exception, it increases your overhead expenses.

When both you and the customer are left in the unknown regarding a package that’s yet to be delivered, there’s little chance that the customer will buy from you again or recommend you to others.

A Delivery Exception Has Occurred: How to Solve It

There are apps you can use in your business to track the progress of shipments set for delivery to different addresses. Real-time visibility has proven incredibly useful in mitigating and preventing delivery exceptions from occurring.

You may give your customers access to the same real-time tracker to keep them updated on how far or close their package is from their address.

The key to solving delivery exceptions is by making sure they don’t happen in the first place. But if the reason causing the delay is beyond your control, below are some of the ways you can deal with delivery exceptions.

Find Out Before They Do

You or the carrier responsible for making deliveries must find out about the delivery exception before the customer does.

Maintain constant communication with the last mile carrier to ensure deliveries are made on time. Should a delivery exception occur, be proactive in responding to and solving the issue.

When those in charge of logistics can address problems in real-time, they can reroute the packages or send out an alert informing the customer of the preceding delays. This way, the client knows what to expect and is fully updated on the progress and state of their package.

Automate Your Delivery Process

If you have a thriving business, you can get hundreds or even thousands of delivery requests per day. Even with a logistics team running the process, it’s impossible to make all the deliveries successfully without encountering complications.

Automating your delivery process significantly reduces the burden. Automation technology can better manage exceptions by using previous data to inform you of the common causes and errors in your business.

Addressing and eliminating these problems aids to streamline the delivery process. It is imperative in maintaining customer satisfaction and reducing delivery exception incidences.

Predictive Alerts

If you can predict that a delivery exception is about to occur, you can avoid it. AI solutions, automation, and simple observation can help handle delivery exceptions before they happen.

Most tech systems can use historical data and algorithms to tell whether or not there will be delivery delays. The system, in turn, sends out automated alerts to inform the teams when an exception is likely to occur.

The same systems identify when certain drivers are behind schedule and send them notifications. This way, they can prevent delays by going faster.

Operational managers work hard to prevent delivery exceptions from happening. Predictive alerts play a big role in minimizing the number of such incidences. Plus, you have enough time to plan and prepare ways to address the issue before calling the customer to inform them of the mishap.

The if/then workflow

When you make space for uncertainty, you will not get confused when delays occur. The if/then workflow is a formula most businesses use to account for every scenario. Yes, you hope that every delivery will happen as planned. However, you can’t ignore the fact that there will be cases where delays are unavoidable.

In an instance where the customer isn’t home to pick up their package when you arrive at their address, the if/then workflow provides options and clear instructions on how to proceed.

This is where it becomes clear that no business can run without automation or AI systems in place. If/then workflow depends on data and technology to prevent and mitigate exceptions. 

These systems accurately estimate delivery time and time spent on-site to ensure the smooth running of your business. The systems also highlight common issues, causes, and irregularities that curtail delivery operations. 

Where We Come In

Delivery exceptions are issues that all e-commerce businesses grapple with. How you solve and respond to exception issues is what makes or breaks the running of your business.

Capabl is a key service provider whose role is to maintain and increase the best customer experience. We have a team of experts that work round the clock to see that fulfillment centers and businesses work efficiently towards customer satisfaction.

Whether your business sells products or provides services, we aim to leave a long trail of satisfied customers and no frustrated customers.

No need to do it all on your own. Trust us to ensure that packages are delivered to the customers’ doorsteps on time. We work together with your teams to streamline the delivery processes. Should delays occur, we swing swiftly into action with unwavering speed and accuracy to limit waiting time.

Final Thoughts

Too many online e-commerce businesses come to their knees by the sheer magnitude of daily shipment requests. If the business owner isn’t careful, they will spend more time managing exceptions and less time overseeing other activities going on in the business.

No doubt, digitizing and automating the delivery and fulfillment process significantly improves the rate of successful delivery. How each delivery exception is handled determines whether or not the customer will shop with you again.

Are you looking for an exceptional management solution for your e-commerce business? We can guarantee the fast, secure, efficient, and cost-effective running of your delivery process. We sync and audit your orders, handle fulfillment centers, and measure on-time fulfillment and order accuracy SLA’s. Check us out to start for free and see your sales grow.