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Delivery Logistics

How to Solve Failed Delivery Attempts?

Learn how to solve failed and unsuccessful delivery attempts and raise your first delivery attempt rate.

Ever wonder how unsuccessful delivery attempts affect your business?

How much money failed or missed deliveries cost you?

Not to mention, how to solve this problem?

(And make sure the first delivery attempt is carried out to perfection)

In this new post, we’re going to show you exactly how delivery attempts work.

Plus, we’ll provide you with actionable tips and advanced strategies to ensure you deliver orders to your customers on the very first try.

So if you’re looking to improve the success rate of your delivery attempts, this article is for you.

Let’s get started.

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What is a delivery attempt?

A delivery attempt is the effort of a delivery driver or courier to deliver an order to the recipient, typically at the requested customer address.

A successful delivery attempt means the delivery agent was able to drop off the order at the intended address of the recipient, at the right time, and with all items inside the order intact.

A delivery attempt is unsuccessful when the driver can’t deliver the package to the recipient.

Typically, this happens because one of two reasons:

Either the customer wasn’t able to physically receive the order. Or the delivery agent wasn’t able to leave the order in a secure location (to ensure the customer receives it).

What happens if the package can’t be delivered?

Delivery attempts fail for a number of reasons. These can include:

  • Missing delivery time windows
  • Missing delivery address
  • Delivering the wrong order or items
  • Delivering damaged items
  • Not finding the customer at home
  • Not finding a secure place to leave the order
  • Customer refusing to accept the delivery

(Apart from the last one, you’re responsible for all other instances of failed delivery attempts)

So what happens if a delivery attempt fails?

Typically, a customer would receive a message along the lines of:

Delivery attempt failed.

Please pick up your item at our fulfillment center.

Or schedule a second delivery attempt on our website.

For more information contact our customer service team.

Of course, all of this depends a lot on your policy or that of your dedicated carrier.

Companies such as Amazon or Apple have their own policies in place. Businesses that use service providers like USPS, FedEx or DHL would rely on their policies.

The policy will determine what you need to do and what your customers can do in case of a failed delivery attempt.

For example, Amazon’s delivery service is known for having multiple delivery attempts:

If no one is at the address, the driver will leave the package at a secure location.

Still, if there isn’t a secure location or if the driver needs proof of delivery, Amazon will email the recipient and try two more redelivery attempts in the following two days.

If the final delivery attempt is unsuccessful, Amazon shoppers can use their tracking number to determine the status of their package. (And what to do in that situation)

Read this article: We reveal the SECRET to how you can compete with Amazon delivery.

Typically, regardless of whether you use an internal delivery fleet or a 3PL or 4PL provider, you’re likely to make several delivery attempts.

What is the delivery attempt rate?

The delivery attempt rate is the percentage of successfully fulfilled orders completed on the first, second, or third attempt

For example, the average first delivery attempt rate is 90% in the United Kingdom.

A good delivery attempt rate for first tries is between 90-95%.

Beyond 95% it’s considered excellent.

What is the average number of attempted deliveries?

On average, companies typically make up to three delivery attempts per order.

If a delivery fails, carriers will try a second delivery attempt (and in many cases a third one) before seeking an alternative course of action.

After several failed delivery attempts, the company, carrier, or postal service will have the package returned to its place of origin.

In some countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, or Spain, however, there is only one attempted delivery per order.

But again, this depends on the policy.

Why is the first delivery attempt crucial?

There are several reasons why first delivery attempts matter.

The first and the most important reason is cost.

Each attempted delivery or redelivery is expensive.

On the one hand, there is overhead (operational expenses).

This includes additional staff hours, rerouting and reverse logistics, greater fuel consumption due to extra mileage.

According to research, delivery vehicles in the U.S. cost businesses $2.84 per mile (or $1.75 per kilometer).

So every additional mile you ship costs you money.

And every new delivery attempt makes it unsustainable to cover transportation costs, even if your customers pay a delivery fee.

On the other hand, there are indirect costs.

This includes losing customers due to a poor delivery experience

With every unsuccessful delivery attempt, customers get frustrated because they don’t receive the service you promised them.

In fact, 69% of consumers are less likely to shop with a retailer again if their order doesn’t arrive on the agreed delivery date.

And if your customers are less likely to do repeat business with you that can gut your revenue stream.

In turn, this has a negative impact on your reputation. Which can make it difficult to attract new customers to replace those that leave.

That’s why it’s crucial for your business to raise its first delivery attempt rate.

How to calculate the first delivery attempt rate?

To calculate the first delivery attempt rate, you need to divide the number of successful first delivery attempts with the total number of deliveries:


This is the formula for the first delivery attempt rate.

What are the most common reasons for unsuccessful delivery?

Do you know why delivery attempts fail?

Knowing this can help you find the reasons behind unsuccessful delivery attempts.

Evaluate their causes.

And implement tactics to fix these problems.

And there are at least four BIG reasons delivery attempts fail:

#1 Absent receiver

Delivery attempts can fail because the recipient isn’t at home.

In this case, you have four options:

A driver can notify the customer and try to drop off the delivery at a different date or time.

This leads to second or third delivery attempts.

The second option is to leave the delivery at the doorstep without handing it over to the customer.

But as the case with Amazon, this can lead to theft from porch pirates.

Alternatively, the driver can leave the package at a different location.

Although this is reserved for third attempts, companies can still implement this policy.

Typically, the driver leaves the delivery at a collection center, where the customer can pick it up at a later date or time.

This is similar to click and collect.

If the receiver is absent, the driver can also leave the package at a secure fulfillment locker.

But this requires investment to set up the lockers, either by you or your customer.

#2 Incorrect delivery address or no access the delivery location

Plenty of times customers give out an incorrect or incomplete address.

This means you’ll have to contact the customer, correct their mistake, and make a second delivery attempt at the right address.

But sometimes it’s not the customer’s fault.

Sometimes the delivery agent can’t access the address due to a wrong access code, blocked or locked entrance, porch, or staircase.

This means the driver will have to have access to the customer’s contact information to solve the problem. (If you don’t want to make another delivery attempt)

#3 Undeliverable or damaged items

Damaged or defective items are another cause for multiple delivery attempts.

This issue can happen as early in the supply chain as the production or sourcing stage, and as late as transit to customers (last mile of delivery).

In this case, poor packaging is one of the main reasons for a failed delivery attempt.

If a driver notices a damaged package, it’s up to him to notify the fulfillment center and request a second delivery attempt.

In this situation, the tracking status will display as “attempted delivery unsuccessful”.

#4 Unpaid cash on delivery

Cash on delivery is still one of the main payment methods for e-commerce in the world.

In fact, over 75% of all deliveries were paid for with cash on delivery in Asia in 2020.

And many large providers offer this method of payment to their customers, including DHL eCommerce, UPS (UK), and Royal Mail.

This form of payment can have a negative impact on your delivery attempt efforts.

Typically, this happens because the customer doesn’t have cash on hand to pay for the delivery.


How to solve unsuccessful delivery attempts?

Behind each reason there’s a solution to an unsuccessful delivery attempt.

In this part of the article, we’re going to show you how to avoid each situation when this happens.

Let’s dive right in.

How to avoid missed delivery due to an incomplete or wrong address?

The best way to overcome mistakes with the drop-off location is through technology.

At checkout, customers should have the option to check the information they provide.

You can do this by connecting the website with a text box that generates real-world addresses, similar to Google Maps.

If it’s a repeat customer, the site should also auto-generate historical data, as it reduces human error.

A notification or confirmation email can also help customers to check the information about their order before it is shipped to them.

Integrating an order management system can also help solve many of these problems.

Connecting the software to delivery management platforms makes it easier to transfer data from one system to another.

This kind of automation reduces the chance of data entry errors.

It means each system can check the address before confirming a delivery.

But also tell support teams to contact the customer and find out the correct address.

How to avoid missed delivery due to customer absence?

Unless you offer overnight shipping or 24/7 delivery, orders typically arrive between 9:00-18:00.

But most customers are at work at that time.

And if they live alone, there’s a good chance there’s no one at home to receive the package.

To avoid missed deliveries because of customer absence, you can let customers choose the date and time of delivery at checkout.

Customers can select available delivery slots with 15 to 20-minute windows.

This means they know when their delivery arrives so they can be exactly when they need to be at home.

Here’s a quick and easy guide to Planning Delivery Slots with Software.

Alternatively, many companies let customers choose the time of day for their delivery.

This isn’t as precise, but it does give them an approximate time window when they have to be at home.

However, the best solution is to place delivery lockers or secure locations where delivery agents can simply leave the package.

How to avoid undeliverable or damaged items?

Here we’re talking about two things: defective and damaged items.

In both cases, you need quality control to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

When it comes to defective items, it’s best to review them during pick and pack operations.

There, employees can catch products that aren’t up to standard.

On the other hand, damage to orders happens typically on route to the customer.

Here, the best solution is to use custom packaging.

If the dimensions match the item and have protective wrapping, there is less of a chance that they’ll get damaged in transit.

Plus, if you ship perishable goods like food or medicine, it can keep orders fresh before they reach their destination.

How to solve the problem of unpaid cash on delivery?

Unpaid deliveries happen for two reasons:

If the customer doesn’t cash on hand to pay the delivery.

This can easily be solved with a mobile credit card reader.

The second reason is because the customer wasn’t serious about the order in the first place.

In this case, a good OMS can weed out these intentions by analyzing the number of orders at the same address.

Customer service can then blacklist this customer and their IP address and root it out from the system.

This reduces the chance of delivery attempt incidents with cash on delivery.

How to increase the first delivery attempt rate?


This is how you can raise your first delivery attempt rate.

If you make it a core KPI, a delivery management system can help you to track and analyze your current attempt rate.

It automates the process and lets you evaluate performance over time.

But this software solutions provide additional benefits:

  1. Integration: organizing all logistics processes and all information about shipments into a single system adjusted toward successful first delivery attempt outcomes.
  2. Automation: applying delivery management software technologies such as automatic notifications to optimize the efficiency of your delivery attempts.
  3. Digitalization: making all driver tracking information available in digital form for real-time tracking, updates, and sharing.

Using these principles, you can take several additional steps:

  • Create new delivery attempt goals
  • Validate orders and order data
  • Plan deliveries using delivery slots
  • Track packages in real-time
  • Add tracking numbers for redelivery
  • Automate reporting and delivery flow updates
  • Check status changes to deliveries

But that’s not the end of it.

Delivery software can help you beyond attempted delivery.

And we can help you with that, as well.


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