Delivery Exceptions: What Are They?

Understand what delivery exceptions mean, their common causes, and how they can impact ecommerce businesses and online shoppers alike.

Jim Sharkey
July 3, 2023
A package being handed over to the buyer

A delivery exception refers to an event or circumstance that disrupts the standard shipping process and prevents a package from being delivered on time or in the usual manner. It indicates that there’s been a deviation from the standard delivery process, requiring additional attention or resolution. 

Understanding delivery exceptions is crucial for ecommerce businesses to effectively manage customer expectations, address issues promptly, and maintain a smooth supply chain. 

Let's explore the importance of understanding delivery exceptions and how Mochila, a leading fulfillment provider, can help your business to navigate these challenges.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Delivery Exceptions?

For ecommerce businesses, delivery exceptions can significantly impact customer satisfaction and the overall shopping experience. By understanding common causes of delivery exceptions, businesses can proactively communicate with customers, address concerns, and take appropriate actions.

Incorrect Address

One of the most common causes of delivery exceptions is an inaccurate or incomplete shipping address provided by the customer. This can result in failed delivery attempts and the need for address verification or correction.

Missing Documentation

In some cases, packages may require specific documentation, such as customs forms for international shipping. Missing or incomplete documentation can lead to delays or rejection at customs checkpoints.

Label Damage

Damaged shipping labels can hinder scanning and tracking, making it difficult for carriers to identify and route packages correctly. This can result in delivery exceptions and delays.

Severe Weather or Natural Disasters

Inclement weather conditions or natural disasters (tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, etc.) can disrupt transportation networks, causing weather delays and making certain areas inaccessible for delivery drivers.

Customs Delays in International Shipping

International fulfillment may experience delays due to customs inspections and clearance processes, which can lead to delivery exceptions.

Delivery Routes Affected by National Holidays

Shipping carriers may adjust delivery routes during federal holidays, potentially impacting the expected delivery date or introducing delays.

How Do Different Shipping Carriers Handle Delivery Exceptions?

Understanding how shipping carriers handle delivery exceptions is crucial for managing customer expectations. Here's an overview of how popular shipping carriers handle such exceptions:

  • FedEx:FedEx tracking provides real-time notifications and detailed updates for packages with delivery exceptions. They specify the reason for the FedEx delivery exception and any required actions from the shipper or recipient.
  • UPS: UPS also offers notifications through their “Where’s My Package?” tracking system and provides options for rescheduling or redirecting packages. They strive to keep recipients informed and offer solutions to address issues promptly.
  • USPS: The United States Postal Service (USPS) notifies recipients about delivery exceptions through their USPS tracking system. They provide updates on attempted deliveries, undeliverable packages, or other exceptions affecting the delivery process.

How Do Delivery Exceptions Affect the Expected Delivery Date?

Delivery exceptions can significantly impact the expected delivery date of a package. A delivery exception indicates an issue or obstacle during transit, leading to unexpected delays, late shipments, and a revised delivery date. 

As mentioned earlier, different factors contribute to delivery and shipment exceptions. These are just a few of the most common examples and how they can affect the expected delivery date of a package: 

  • Incorrect Address: An incorrect address provided by the customer is a common cause of delivery exceptions. Shipping carriers may attempt to verify or correct the address, but if unsuccessful, the package will be delayed and marked as undeliverable.
  • Inclement Weather: Severe weather conditions can pose challenges to transportation and lead to delayed or rescheduled deliveries. Online shoppers should anticipate potential delays during adverse weather events.
  • Missing Labels: Missing or damaged shipping labels can hinder delivery, resulting in delays and potential exceptions. Shippers must ensure securely attached and intact labels.

FAQs About Delivery Exceptions

What Does a Recipient’s Address Error Mean for Delivery Exceptions?

A recipient's address error can lead to various issues during the delivery process, such as failed deliveries, delays, or undeliverable packages. Accurate address information is crucial for successful delivery, and any inaccuracies can disrupt the entire delivery timeline. 

A delivery exception due to an incorrect address can frustrate both the sender and the recipient, resulting in inconvenience, additional efforts, and potential costs.

What Is the Importance of a Correct Shipping Address and Recipient Address?

Providing accurate shipping and the recipient's address is essential in the delivery process. Complete and error-free addresses reduce the risk of delivery issues and ensure a smooth and timely delivery experience. 

It helps shipping carriers efficiently route packages and minimizes the need for delivery address corrections or redirects, saving time, resources, and potential costs.

How Do You Resolve "Undeliverable" Status Due to an Incorrect Address?

To resolve an "undeliverable" status caused by an incorrect address, promptly contact the shipping carrier and provide the correct address information. The carrier may offer options such as rescheduling the delivery or redirecting the package to an alternative address. 

Clear communication channels between retailers, customers, and shipping carriers are crucial for resolving undeliverable status.

What Role Does Tracking Information Play in Delivery Exceptions?

Tracking information is vital for managing and addressing delivery exceptions. Each package is assigned a unique tracking number, allowing customers and retailers to monitor its real-time progress. 

Tracking information helps identify exceptions like delays or address issues, enabling proactive resolution. It provides transparency and visibility into the delivery journey, empowering customers and allowing retailers to provide better customer service.

What Is the Importance of Tracking Numbers?

Tracking numbers are essential for managing delivery exceptions and ensuring a smooth delivery process. Each package is assigned a unique tracking number that provides visibility into the delivery status, location, and any encountered exceptions.

For customers, tracking numbers offer peace of mind by allowing them to track their package's progress, anticipate delivery dates, and stay informed about potential delays or exceptions.

For retailers, tracking numbers enable proactive monitoring of fulfillment, timely intervention in case of exceptions, and maintaining customer satisfaction.

How Do You Interpret an Exception Notice?

When a delivery exception occurs, the shipping carrier provides an exception notice to inform the sender or recipient about the issue. Interpreting an exception notice is essential for understanding the nature of the exception and taking appropriate actions to resolve it.

Exception notices contain important information regarding the exception, such as the reason for the delay or the required steps to resolve the issue. Online shoppers and retailers should carefully read and comprehend the notice to understand the situation and the necessary actions.

For further clarification or questions, contacting the shipping carrier's customer service can provide additional assistance and guidance.

What Is the Role of Barcodes in the Shipping Process?

Barcodes are crucial in shipping, facilitating efficient package handling and tracking. Each package is assigned a unique barcode that contains essential information, including the tracking number and other relevant data.

Barcodes enable automated scanning and sorting of packages, ensuring accurate routing and efficient handling. This minimizes errors, speeds up processing times, and enhances operational efficiency.

Furthermore, barcodes enable seamless real-time tracking and monitoring of the package's progress, ensuring transparency and visibility for online shoppers and retailers throughout the delivery journey.

How Can Online Shoppers Handle Delivery Exceptions?

Online shoppers may encounter delivery exceptions, but there are steps they can take to handle these situations effectively:

  • Contact the shipping carrier: If a delivery exception occurs, the first step is to contact the shipping carrier's customer service. Provide them with the tracking number and relevant details to inquire about the exception and seek a resolution.
  • Follow instructions: Follow any instructions the shipping carrier provides to address the exception. This may include providing additional information, rescheduling the delivery, or redirecting the package to a different address.
  • Communicate with the retailer: Inform the retailer about the delivery exception and any actions taken. They can assist in coordinating with the shipping carrier and finding a suitable resolution.
  • Document the issue: Keep records of all communication, including dates, times, and the names of the customer service representatives. This documentation can be valuable if further assistance or claims need to be made.
  • Be patient: Delivery exceptions can be frustrating, but it's essential to remain patient and work closely with the shipping carrier and the retailer to resolve the issue.

What Is The Importance of Delivery Status Updates?

Delivery status updates are essential for online shoppers and retailers. They provide visibility into the package's progress, exceptions, and delays. 

Updates can be obtained by tracking the package using the assigned tracking number. Online shoppers can plan, anticipate delays, and communicate with the retailer. Retailers can address issues proactively and assist their customers promptly.

What Are the Implications of Delivery Exceptions on the Last Mile Delivery Process?

Delivery exceptions significantly impact the last mile delivery process, the final leg from the distribution center to the recipient's address. Delivery drivers play a crucial role in managing exceptions for successful delivery. 

Exceptions like incorrect addresses or damaged packages disrupt planned routes, requiring additional actions from the driver. This may lead to changes in the delivery route, delays, or subsequent delivery attempts.

How Can Ecommerce Retailers Mitigate Delivery Exceptions?

Ecommerce retailers can take proactive measures to mitigate delivery exceptions and provide a seamless experience for customers.

  • Accurate shipping labels: Retailers should ensure accurate shipping labels with correct recipient information, complete addresses, and legible barcodes. This minimizes the risk of exceptions and helps shipping carriers process packages correctly.
  • Real-time tracking information: Providing real-time tracking information allows customers to stay updated on their package's status, managing expectations and providing transparency. Retailers can partner with fulfillment providers like Mochila for advanced tracking technologies and real-time updates.
  • Pricing considerations: Retailers should consider the potential impact of delivery exceptions on pricing. Unexpected costs like return shipping fees or re-delivery charges should be factored into the pricing model to maintain sustainability.

The Bottom Line for Delivery Exceptions

Delivery exceptions significantly impact ecommerce businesses and customer satisfaction. Retailers must understand their implications and take proactive measures to mitigate risks. 

Partnering with a trusted fulfillment provider like Mochila enhances supply chain resilience, reducing exceptions and meeting customer expectations. To optimize ecommerce fulfillment and delivery, consider partnering with Mochila for advanced solutions that streamline your supply chain and improve customer satisfaction. 

Schedule a call with me today to take your ecommerce business to the next level.


What Does 'Delivery Exception' Mean? | FedEx

Find Import/Export Forms | Homeland Security

Tracking Your Shipment or Packages | FedEx

Where's My Package | UPS

USPS Tracking | USPS

Tracking Packages | RPI

How Do Barcodes Work? | BBC Science Focus Magazine

What Is Last Mile Delivery? | TechTarget

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