The A-Z of Shipping Issues: What to Expect and How to Deal

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Did you know shipping delays can eat into a business’s annual revenue by up to 20%? Since smooth shipping is a company’s lifeline, ensuring efficient movement of merchandise – from manufacturers to warehouses, customs, distributors, and finally to your happy customers – is crucial. This not only prevents delays in your supply chain, but also guarantees a positive customer experience.

Shipping issues such as lost packages, wrong items, or damaged products represent revenue loss, waste of time and resources, and frustration from your customers. There can be a significant source of frustration and financial loss for businesses and individuals. 

Understanding what the most common shipping problems are and knowing how to effectively manage them will give your business an advantage over competitors and will help in having an action plan on how to keep shipping operations running smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

shipping issues

The most common shipping issues

The shipping industry faces many different challenges, affected by different factors of all types. These challenges can impact the efficiency and profitability of operations instead of benefiting the company and boosting its competitiveness. Some of the most common shipping issues are:

Shipping Delays

Some of the most common reasons for shipping delays are due to factors beyond a company’s control; however, it is important to consider them.

Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions, such as storms, fog, hurricanes, and high winds, are a frequent cause of transportation delays. These conditions prioritize the safety of personnel, cargo, and equipment, leading to necessary postponements in deliveries.

Although weather conditions can’t be prevented, having a plan of action for your business to be prepared to efficiently respond to challenges is crucial.

National and International Holidays

Celebrations and holidays from around the world sometimes impact shipping as usually working hours are reduced, working companies take the day off and ports and customs offices close for the day. 

We can’t avoid these closures, but properly planning shipments and schedules around these holidays, prevents delays. It’s also important to communicate with other parties involved in the supply chain so that everyone knows schedules and upcoming holidays, especially when dealing with global commerce where each country has different holiday calendars. 

For example, the U.S. holiday calendar and Mexico’s holiday calendar differ completely and working days, therefore, will vary significantly, make sure you’re working with a Customs Broker familiar with the specific countries you deal with.

Customs Clearance

Another common delay is due to shipping issues caused by improper preparation of the requirements for customs clearance.

For example, customs delays can arise from various discrepancies, such as non-compliant shipments requiring additional inspections, incomplete or inaccurate documentation, errors in product classification or valuation, or improper preparation of the goods.

These issues not only cause delays in your shipping and overall supply chain operations but also create penalties and unnecessary additional fees that could have been prevented and avoided with good planning in place.

This is why customs brokerage service is always highly recommended for businesses dealing with the import and export of goods; to ensure that the passing of your goods across borders is handled by experienced professional hands that will help you prevent shipping issues and save you from these fees and penalties.

Shipping Costs Increases

Shipping Costs Increases: fuel surcharges and carrier rate changes

The natural fluctuation of fuel prices can sometimes lead to delays because it increases the shipping costs. To prevent this, the correct planning and overseeing is important.

3PL companies help you keep an eye on this and many other significant factors that can affect your supply chain so that you can always have an action plan when issues arise and your business can adapt and respond rapidly to challenges that arise.

The same happens with changes in carrier pricing,  it is essential to constantly monitor prices and negotiate rates effectively. Constantly monitor and keep track of your provider’s pricing and have an action plan in hand to effectively adapt to these changes and negotiate rates when needed.

Lost or Damaged Goods

Various reasons can affect goods, with some of the most common being improper handling and not utilizing technology that allows for real-time tracking. This can lead to loss of items, delays in delivery, and issues with customers.

Improper Handling

Improper handling of goods, such as incorrect packaging, lack of proper transportation, and improper loading and unloading of trucks and containers,  lead to damage and loss of goods during transit. Make sure your pick and pack provider ensures the safety and quality of your merchandise at all times.

Tracking and Insurance

Lack of or non-existent tracking technologies and insurance, cause delays in shipping.; when something happens to goods it takes longer to resolve because it’s harder to spot a delay and to update all parties involved on the status of the shipment and issue.

It also takes longer to get back on track with the added costs created. To prevent this, make sure the 3PL you choose has insurance options and that they have technologies implemented among their operations to ensure real time tracking, smooth communication, and updates among everyone involved.

Port Congestion

Port congestion is a major headache for the global economy. It acts like a chokehold on supply chains, causing delays that ripple outwards from manufacturers to store shelves and ultimately to you. Stuck ships mean burning fuel and rising costs for everyone involved, potentially leading to higher prices for consumers. On top of that, businesses can struggle to keep shelves stocked, frustrating customers. This congestion isn’t just a local problem either; delays in one region can have cascading effects worldwide. To make matters worse, all this waiting contributes to air pollution. In short, port congestion is a costly mess with far-reaching consequences.

Proactive Planning: predicting, and integrating technology

Improper planning leads to shipping delays and other logistics challenges. It is important not only to have an action plan but also a risk mitigation one.

Predicting order volumes, making sure you have adequate shipping resources, finding the most efficient shipping routes, reducing costs, and using the best technology and data analytics to enhance the processes are all essential to shipping operations.

Select a 3PL with proven expertise and experience that has your back when shipping issues and other logistics challenges arise.

most efficient shipping routes

Effective Communication

Another common issue within shipping operations is due to lack of communication or misinformation. It’s crucial to maintain an open communication channel between suppliers, carriers, warehouse staff, customs broker agents, and everyone else involved in the supply chain.

This includes keeping everyone informed about shipping routes, schedules, and changes, having a system for real-time updates, etc. Consider hiring a Logistics Partner to help you optimize and oversee all these and help you prevent shipping issues and other logistics challenges.

Leveraging Technology

Lack of properly implemented technologies also lead to shipping issues, instead using advanced technologies like real-time tracking or automated alerts for status changes helps prevent shipping problems.

It also gives you the advantage of knowing what’s happening with your shipments so that you can respond and act on issues promptly. These systems also help all the involved parties stay in the loop about the shipment status.

EP Logistics: Your Solution to Shipping Challenges

At EP Logistics, we want shipping operations to run smoothly, efficiently, and always in a timely manner.  That’s why, with our  20 years of proven experience backing us up, we help your business oversee all shipping operations and stay prepared for any challenges that are presented.

Our goal is to help you streamline processes, ensure your time and resources are properly handled, and avoid additional costs that could have been prevented with proper planning, strategy, and technology implementation such as real-time tracking.

With services that cover every need in the supply chain, from Road, Ocean, and Air Freight, to Warehousing, pick and packing, Customs Brokerage, and Order Fulfillment, we ensure your shipments are taken care of along the whole supply chain and until it arrives at your customer’s door. 

Reach out to one of our experts to learn more about what we can do for you and how we can help optimize the smooth transport of your shipments and prevent shipping issues through reliable planning, top-notch technology systems, and expert negotiators of rates and discounts to optimize your shipment costs and routes.

Request a quote and experience peace of mind knowing that your shipments are being handled by professionals.

Daniel Payan

Daniel Payan

Daniel Payan, International Ocean and Transportation Manager at EP Logistics, has honed his expertise in the logistics industry over the course of a decade.