5 Risks eCommerce Businesses Face with Shipping Orders

Shipping packages is lots of fun but it brings it's own set of challenges. Sometimes things can go very wrong if not handled properly.

By Team SHIPHYPE Updated July 4, 2023 Published September 30, 2020
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Is happy customers a sign that your business is doing well?

Most would say yes but I think it’s a requirement. 

Ensuring customer satisfaction is key, especially in such a competitive landscape (online world) where businesses are offering 60-day return policies and satisfaction guarantees.

The bar is just set very high. Ultimately, this is a good thing. It forces businesses to provide more value to customers. 

But don’t be scared, it’s not rocket science. It’s actually quite simple.

Customers are happy when they get what they want, when they want. When you’re selling online, you’re making a promise to the customer that you will deliver their order in the promised time-frame.

Even though you’re handing the package over to a carrier (like UPS or FedEx) to deliver, your commitment is still with the customer. If something goes wrong, they will hold you accountable (and rightfully so) because the promise was made by you.

When shipping packages, it’s not as simple as just packing the item in a box and handing it off the carrier. There’s a lot more that goes into it and it should be attended properly as well.

There’s some key considerations when shipping packages to your customers. Depending on your product and your customers, some of these may not apply to you but they are good to know regardless. If you’re not careful, you can open yourself up to undue risks. Let’s discuss some of them.

Lost Packages

Yes, it’s a reality. Packages do get lost. This can happen for so many reasons. To list a few:

  • Item fell out of a truck
  • Shipping label got smudged or is hard to read
  • Item got sent to the wrong distribution center
  • Carrier stole it (very uncommon but can happen)
  • Item was very small (can happen to big items as well)
How to prevent this?

This isn’t 100% avoidable but there are steps that can be taken to minimize the issue on your part.

If you’re shipping expensive items (like a MacBook), try to use packaging that doesn’t disclose the contents of the box.

Also, try not to use boxes that have previously been used. The reason is because they may have previous shipping labels on them and if they weren’t removed, it could cause problems for the carriers.

I know these tips aren’t game changers but they might help you.

Packages can be returned

If you’ve been shipping for a few months, you’ve had to face this first hand. This can happen for a variety of reasons but the most common one is where someone entered the wrong address.

Sounds like it shouldn’t be a problem right because most people know their address. The issue is usually the way they format their address. How I type my address might be different than someone else who lives in the same house as me.

Packages can also be returned if the correct postage wasn’t paid. Make sure that you’re entering the correct package weight and dimensions when printing shipping labels. Understating actual values. 

Packages can get damaged

Your package can be returned if it was damaged in transit. The item could also arrive at its destination damaged. Also, it could be put on hold because it was damaged. In all situations, it’s a problem.

This usually happens when the package was not packaged properly. The best way to prevent this is to ensure that the package you are shipping is not moving. If there’s empty space in the package, the package will move. Some of the best materials to use are as follows:

If your items are heavy, you should make sure that the strength of the package can withstand the weight of the item. Most boxes can handle up to 40 pounds and heavy duty boxes can easily handle 60+ pounds.

Special Considerations for Dangerous Goods

Not all items are made equal. There’s certain items which pose a higher risk than general merchandise. An example of this would be batteries.

Batteries are considered “Dangerous Goods” by carriers. This means that the mode of transport for these is pretty limited. You’re not allowed to ship them by air and even items that contain batteries might have certain restrictions.

When shipping batteries, you must mention it on the outside of the box based on the type of battery.

If you’re shipping batteries internationally, it gets even trickier and you might require a safety data sheet.

Even though we talked about batteries in this example, there’s a wide range of different items that are classified as dangerous goods. It’s best to check the carriers website to see what items they can service and it’s also a good idea to check the laws of your region and country.

International Shipments

When shipping items international, you have to follow some extra guidelines. There needs to be a Commercial Invoice or CN22 form attached to your shipment that describes the contents of the package and their value.

If the items are high value, there might be additional forms you need to fill out.

This is required because customers who are shopping international aren’t paying taxes but they must still pay tariffs in the form of import duties. 

Some countries have rules that make it easier for residents to shop internationally and others may not have lenient rules. 

Customers in the United States WILL NOT be charged any duties for items worth $800 or less.

Customers in Canada WILL be charged duties for items worth $30 or more.

Depending on the item, the amount of duty paid will vary and you might have to pay brokerage fees on top.

Unfair? Yes

Can you do anything about it? Not really.

What is the best way to minimize these issues?

The first thing is to be aware of these issues. Even if someone didn’t know of these problems off the bat, they’ll become familiar over time once their volume gets large enough. 

Some of these issues are inevitable and there’s probably a lot more that weren’t discussed today. In all cases, the best thing to do is attend these problems and then set procedures in place to ensure they don’t happen again. 

As a business owner, you’re getting paid to solve problems and consider this something you must attend to as well. Honestly, these aren’t big problems and they shouldn’t repeat once the line of action is set.

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