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How to Communicate Shipping Delays to the Customers

Published by Joe Webster.

What's in this article?
  1. Impact of Shipping Delays
  2. Your customer relations team will be bombarded
  3. Delays diminish the reputation of your company
  4. Common Myths about Shipping Issues
  5. Myth 1 They rarely occur
  6. Myth 2 It's the carrier's fault
  7. Why Do Shipping Delays Occur?
  8. Bad weather
  9. Port congestion
  10. Customs issues
  11. Defective product
  12. Spike in orders
  13. Malfunction of shipping technology
  14. Lost packages
  15. How to Communicate Delays in Auto Shipments to Customers
  16. Give realistic expectations
  17. Give customers all shipping information upfront
  18. Communicate promptly and often
  19. Communicate in a professional and respectful manner
  20. Tell them about the solution you're working on
  21. Do not make excuses for the shipping delay
  22. Apologize for the delivery delays
  23. Make your message personal
  24. Check back after the problem has been resolved
  25. Give a reward for their patience
How to Communicate Shipping Delays to the Customers

If you are a business owner, you know that delays can greatly inconvenience your customers.

They may have been looking forward to receiving their order for weeks. And suddenly, they find out that it is going to arrive late.

This can disrupt customers' peace and leave you in a sticky situation, if not managed properly, can make you lose a customer. And worse, it gives you a bad reputation.

In this blog post, we will give you tips on communicating shipping delays to customers in a way that is respectful and professional so that you can manage customer expectations.

Impact of Shipping Delays

Before we give you tips on how to communicate shipping delays, let's first discuss the impact that it can have on your business.

As a business owner, you must ensure that orders are fulfilled and delivered on time.

When there are delivery delays, it can cause a ripple effect throughout your entire operation.

Your customer relations team will be bombarded

Your customer relations team may get several complaints that could have been avoided if they had been informed about the delay in advance.

It is important to note that even one unhappy customer can cause a significant negative impact on your business.

Delays diminish the reputation of your company

Your business' reputation can also be diminished when there are delivery delays.

Negative online reviews deter other potential customers from doing business with you.

The solution to this is proactive communication. Don't wait until the delivery date is past due to inform them about the delay.


Common Myths about Shipping Issues

Myth 1: They rarely occur

This is probably the most common myth about shipping delays. And it couldn't be further from the truth.

In fact, according to research, only 34 percent of shipments by shipping carriers arrived on time in February 2022 (Source: Statista)

Do you know what this means? A whopping 66 percent of shipments arrived late!

Astounding, right?

Well, that's the reality. Delays are more common than we may expect, primarily due to the Covid pandemic, which has caused supply chain challenges that have never been seen.

Myth 2: It's the carrier's fault

Another myth is that shipping delays are always the carrier's fault.

And while it is true that carriers sometimes make errors that result in delays, there are also times when the delay is due to something on the shipper's end.

It's important to remember that when a delay occurs, it is usually due to a combination of factors and not just one party's fault.

Therefore, it is essential to be understanding and professional when communicating delays to customers.

Why Do Shipping Delays Occur?

Although customers expect speedy deliveries, shipping delays are sometimes inevitable.

They can be due to any of the following reasons:

Bad weather

This is a common cause of shipping delays and supply chain disruptions, especially for air and ocean travel, which are always affected by adverse weather.

Port congestion

Port congestion is a leading cause of shipping delays.

It occurs when too many ships are in the port, and there is insufficient space to accommodate them. During a peak season, it's worse.

Port congestion can lead to cargo container build-up, resulting in delays.

Customs issues

Sometimes, your shipment may get held up at customs. This can be due to any number of reasons, such as incorrect documentation or the need for further inspection.

Defective product

There are times when the product you are trying to ship is defective and needs to be sent back for repairs.

Spike in orders

This happens especially during peak seasons such as the Christmas holiday when everyone is trying to deliver gifts to friends and family members. It's during periods like these when international shipping becomes chaotic.

Malfunction of shipping technology

Technologies such as GPS and barcodes are used extensively in shipping.

If there is a malfunction, there will be shipping delays.

Lost packages

Lost ship orders are more common than you think. They can be lost in transit or delivered to the wrong address.


How to Communicate Delays in Auto Shipments to Customers

Now that we have discussed some of the reasons for shipping delays, let's take a look at what you can do when it happens:

Give realistic expectations

In an effort to impress your customers, you may be tempted to promise quick delivery times that are not realistic.

But if you don't deliver on your promises, you'll have disappointed customers. These customers may never return.

Therefore, in order to ensure customer satisfaction, it is crucial to set clear and realistic expectations from the start. This way, even if there is a delay, your customers will not be disappointed.

Give customers all shipping information upfront

When a customer books shipping for their cargo with your company, make sure to give them all the information about shipping upfront, including your shipping policies.

This way, they will know what to expect and will be less likely to be surprised by a delay.

Communicate promptly and often

Regular communication is essential.

Customers should know of their order status and expected delays as soon as possible. In the event of a delay, give detailed information on the reason for it. This shows customers that the delay in shipping was unavoidable.

Communicate in a professional and respectful manner

When communicating with the customer about the shipping delay, it is important to do so in a professional and respectful manner.

Remember, it is not the customer's fault that there is a delay. So, your communication should be courteous and professional. Assure them that you're going to solve the problem.

Tell them about the solution you're working on

What are you doing to solve the delay?

Are you rerouting the shipment? Are you expediting the delivery? What was the result of your recent communication with the shipping carriers?

Your customer support team should keep customers updated on the steps you are taking to solve the problem and the updated estimated delivery time frame.

Do not make excuses for the shipping delay

Encourage your support team not to make excuses, even if it's not your fault.

If you make excuses, it will only aggravate the situation.

Instead, focus on what you are doing to solve the shipping delay and apologize to avoid losing customers.

Additionally, admit when it's your mistake. Then, instead of hanging you for it, customers are more likely to appreciate your sincerity despite the shipping delay.

Apologize for the delivery delays

Now, this step is the most important.

Even though the late delivery may not be your fault, apologizing to your customers for any inconvenience it might have caused is the best thing to do.

A sincere apology can go a long way in maintaining customer satisfaction and improving brand image, thus earning you repeat business.

Make your message personal

When writing an apology message for a shipping delay, be sure to make it personal.

This shows that you understand how your customer feels and that you are genuinely sorry for the inconvenience caused by the delay.

This is far better than sending automated messages that sound robotic.

Check back after the problem has been resolved

Once the problem has been resolved, and your customer receives their cargo, it is important to check back with them.

The first message they should get after the issue has been resolved should ask if they are satisfied with how you handled the situation. If not, take steps to improve for next time.

Give a reward for their patience

Giving customers a small reward for their patience is always an excellent way to show your appreciation.

It can be something as simple as a discount on their next purchase, a free gift, a reduction in their shipping costs, etc.

This will show your customers that you value them and are willing to go the extra mile to keep them happy.


Ways to Communicate Shipping Delays to Customers

Communicating delays to customers can be done either through your customer relations team or an automated system.

Customer service team

It's vital to have a responsive customer service team on hand to deal with potential delays.

What's even worse than a delay? When there's no one to complain to, or when the support staff is rude and unprofessional.

Your customer service team should be trained on how to properly handle customer concerns and communicate delays clearly and professionally.

Automated system

An automated system can be set up to send shipping notifications and shipping delay emails to customers.

This is useful if you have a large number of customers and it's not practical to contact them all individually.

The automated system can send out an email or text message to the customer, giving them regular shipping updates and informing them of delays.

It can also provide them with an estimated delivery time frame and update them on the steps you are taking to solve the problem.

Templates for Emails and Messages

Rather than sending only transactional emails, sending a message that includes an apology for the delay in shipping orders shows customers that you care about their experience.

It can also help to build client loyalty and trust.

Whatever message you send, it should show personality and apologize to your customers for the inconvenience of the delay.

Here are some examples of shipping delay messages and emails that you can use:

Shipping delay email 1

Dear {name},

We would like to profusely apologize for the shipping delay you experienced. We know how frustrating it can be not to receive your cargo on time.

Rest assured, we are doing everything we can to get your shipment to you as soon as possible.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.


{Your name}

Shipping delay email 2

Subject line: Your order is on its way

Dear {name},

Your order is currently being processed and will be shipped out as soon as possible. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience.


{Your name}

Shipping delay email 3

Subject line: Shipping update for order number {order number}

Dear {name},

We wanted to give you an update on your order. Your order is currently being processed and will be shipped out as soon as possible. We apologize for the late delivery and thank you for your patience.

Best regards,

{Your name}



It's true that shipping delays are inevitable.

But your customers expect that you deliver on time, every time. And when you fail, it can cause a rift between you and them.

The best thing to do is to communicate clearly and honestly with them. Remember: the customer is always right, no matter what.

If you're looking for a reliable auto transport company to partner with, contact us at A-1 Auto Transport. We can answer all your shipping questions and find a service to meet your needs.

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Joe Webster always knew the auto transport industry would be a great career option. And with decades of experience, Joe is now an established consultant for A1 Auto Transport.

Joe was born in Santa Cruz, California. During high school, Joe worked as a mechanic; a job continued to work part-time during his bachelor's degree.

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A-1 Auto Transport is a disclosed agent for the following shipping companies:

CSI Logistics
435 Division Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07201
FMC 22206
Intl Cargo
45 Campus Drive
Edison, NJ 08837
NO. 17858N
Trans Global Auto Logistics, Inc.
3401 E Randol Mill Rd,
Arlington, TX 76011
NO. 018191NF
CFR Rinkens
15501 Texaco Avenue
Paramount, CA 90723
NO. 013055NF
ABC Worldwide LLC
2840 NW 2nd Ave #105
Boca Raton, FL 33431
NO. 025472F
ShipYourCarNow LLC
1160 South Rogers Circle Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33487
NO. 025646
Merco Air & Ocean Cargo, Inc.
6 Fir Way
Cooper City, FL 33026
NO. 021869F
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