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Route Tracking

What Exactly is a Delivery Exception? (And Tips to Prevent It)

Handle delivery exceptions effectively and minimize their impact on your business. Get insights on causes, consequences, and prevention strategies.

Congratulations! You've made a sale, printed the mailing label, and sent off the package, leaving your customer happy.

Yet, the situation takes a turn when your courier updates the delivery status to "delivery exception." Suddenly, your customer is threatening to leave a bad review. They demand a refund, and you find yourself scrambling for solutions.

Delivery exceptions are indeed an unfortunate aspect of business. The good news is that they aren't entirely beyond your control. Here's a comprehensive guide to effectively overseeing and reducing delivery issues as a business owner. Additionally, discover how to avoid them altogether with the help of eLogii.

What Makes up a Delivery Exception?

A "delivery exception" is a term used in logistics when something goes wrong with the delivery process. This can happen for various reasons:

  • Severe weather delayed transportation.
  • The recipient wasn't available to sign for the package or there wasn't a safe place to leave it.
  • Missing documents caused customs delays.
  • Delivery was slowed down due to a national holiday.
  • There was an error or unreadable address.
  • Incorrect payment for the shipping label (usually when printing labels at home).
  • The package got lost.

A delivery exception doesn't always mean your package will be late. Sometimes, despite the exception, the package reaches its destination on time.

Understanding the Consequences of Delivery Exceptions

Delivery exceptions are a problem for everyone: businesses, customers, and shipping carriers.

They're especially tough for small business owners who already operate on tight budgets. When packages are delayed, lost, or stolen, these businesses often end up paying the price.

For instance, a co-founder of an online store helped us learn about the impact of delivery exceptions. Like many others, this store also deals with upset customers when deliveries go wrong.

These problems have become more common recently. That was partly because of changes in shipping services due to the impact of COVID-19.

Risks to customer relationships with delivery exceptions

When customers buy your product online, they are transacting with your business directly and not with the shipping company you choose. Thus, if a courier like FedEx or DHL loses the package, the responsibility still falls on you in your customer's eyes.

According to small business owners, the way businesses handle customer service interactions related to delivery exceptions significantly impacts the perception of their brand. Despite these exceptions being beyond their control, they often choose to refund shipping fees in cases of significant delays. Their rationale is straightforward: they believe it's a gesture they would appreciate as customers themselves.

Studies show that a considerable number of consumers appreciate proactive responses from businesses. That is especially true when faced with late shipments or delivery exceptions.

Generally, customers expect retailers to take action. That could include offering refunds, expediting replacements, or compensating when packages do not arrive on time.

Let's say a customer has already made a purchase and the product goes missing. The consensus is that the business should either refund the amount paid or arrange for a replacement shipment.

If a shipping provider fails to deliver many customer orders, the business owner might replace them all, even without reimbursement. This usually happens after reporting the issue to the courier and experiencing long delays with no solution.

Delivery exceptions harm your bottom line

Besides being irritating, delivery exceptions come with a hefty price tag. For small businesses, late shipments can slash profit margins significantly. That is especially true if refunds are issued for shipping fees.

Many small business owners argue that their gross profit margin on a typical product is significantly reduced when they refund shipping costs due to delivery exceptions.

The Easiest Way to Avoid Delivery Exceptions

So, how can you prevent delivery and status exceptions? The simplest method is to handle deliveries internally. By using your team, you reduce the uncertainty surrounding package whereabouts. Yet, this approach requires the recipient's address to be near your warehouse or store. Fortunately, there is a growing trend toward supporting local businesses. So, retailers across various industries have experienced heightened local demand.

Use eLogii to deliver quickly and efficiently

Not a logistics expert? No need to worry. eLogii is delivery route optimization software designed to swiftly enhance your delivery operations. (In fact, businesses have successfully launched their local delivery services on the same day they started using eLogii.)

Both small businesses and large retailers use eLogii for delivering packages to nearby customers. This is because it simplifies planning, routing, and scheduling. eLogii swiftly calculates the most efficient routes, whether you're arranging a dozen deliveries for the next day or thousands of orders over the coming weeks. The ability to optimize routes at the click of a button enables your team to focus on the customer.


You have the option to optimize and plan routes for a particular team. In this scenario, both the drivers and tasks will be displayed according to the team they're assigned to. Additionally, you can filter tasks and drivers based on specific teams or those without any team assigned.

According to a research by Business Insider, In 2023, just a quarter of respondents were using Internet of Things (IoT) devices for tracking shipments in real-time. However, by 2024, this figure more than doubled to 53%, showing significant growth in adopting visibility technology.


Another 25% of respondents in 2024 planned to start using real-time tracking within the next year. This suggests that real-time visibility has become not just an advantage, but a necessary part of operations and meeting customer expectations.

The increasing use of real-time tracking reflects a widespread agreement on its importance for transparency and operational efficiency.

Real-time customer notifications stand in stark contrast to delivery exceptions. Delivery exceptions often lead to uncertainty and frustration. However, real-time customer notifications offer full transparency. With eLogii notifications, it's not just a generic message saying "Your package is on the way." It's a detailed update showing the exact location of your package on a map. There's no need for guesswork.

Strategies for Preventing Delivery Exceptions with Couriers

Self-delivery may not always be workable. You can take several steps to reduce the likelihood of encountering a delivery exception.

Here are some practical tips to reduce the chances of encountering delivery issues when using a courier:

  • Follow the packing and labeling guidelines provided by your courier carefully. For instance, USPS recommends using two-inch wide tape to seal boxes. Also, avoid string or ribbon as they can cause issues with their distribution equipment.
  • If your shipping cost depends on weight and size, ensure accuracy by using a scale to weigh your packages precisely. Estimating can lead to delivery exceptions or package returns.
  • Protect your labels from damage by using weather-resistant labels or covering paper labels with tape or plastic. This precaution ensures the label remains readable even if exposed to the elements during transit.
  • Double-check the accuracy of your delivery address to avoid potential issues caused by minor errors.
  • Provide customers with the tracking number for their package. This helps them to make necessary arrangements, such as being available to accept or sign for the item.
  • Simplify label printing by using multi-courier shipping software. Such software streamlines the process by allowing you to print labels tailored to each courier. It also allows you to compare pricing and generate customs forms for international orders.
  • If offering international shipping, ensure you're appropriately charging customers. Familiarize yourself with international shipping regulations to avoid undercharging or overcharging. For example, there might be potential customs fees for international orders, even though they don't charge sales tax on such orders.

Remember, while these strategies can cut risks, some factors leading to delivery exceptions, such as natural disasters or severe weather, are beyond your control.

Steps to Take When Confronted with a Delivery Exception

As a last resort, here's how to address an exception notice directly:

  1. Inform your customer promptly. Occasionally, your customer might become aware of the delivery exception before you do. In such instances, it's crucial to respond promptly and empathetically, even if the customer's tone is less than courteous.

Expert Tip: Incorporate a dedicated section in your automated email response to address delivery exceptions. Responding to every customer email promptly may not always be possible for a small business. That ensures your customers receive valuable information promptly.

  1. Get in touch with your shipping provider to clarify the situation. It's important to find out whether the package will only be delayed or if it's lost and may not arrive at all. Ensure you have your tracking details readily available.

Here's how you can reach a representative at USPS, UPS, and FedEx:

USPS: Call 1 (800) 275-8777 and press 0 to speak with a customer service representative.

UPS: Call 1 (800) 742-5877 and say "track a package" and then press 0.

FedEx: Call 1-800-463-3339 and say "status of a package I'm sending" or "delivery exception," then provide your tracking or door tag number.

  1. It's essential to follow up with your customer. Inform them whether you'll issue a refund or arrange for a new shipment. Demonstrating empathy is crucial for maintaining a positive customer relationship during this stage. Research shows that 63% of consumers are more inclined to purchase from a company again when they have a positive emotional connection with a customer service representative.
  2. Pursue a refund from your courier if your package is insured. Having insurance increases the likelihood of obtaining a reimbursement from the courier.

Remember, how you manage delivery exceptions greatly influences whether a customer will choose to buy from you again. Positive customer service experiences have significant potential to influence purchasing decisions.

Get Support When You Need It

At eLogii, we focus on our clients just as much as you do yours. Our committed customer support team is here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Whether it be about setting up local delivery or implementing route optimization software, we're here to help. Give us a call or send a message. We'll walk you through our features such as an API setup, or provide any other help you may need.


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