How Couriers Can Avoid Delivery Mishaps


Logistics innovations

A mishap during the last mile of a delivery is often the worst thing that could happen to a customer. The last news anyone wants to hear is that there has been an incident, and the product you ordered has been lost, stolen, or damaged. And when it’s a problem for the customer, it becomes a problem for the retailer, who ultimately will turn to you, the courier, for recourse. 

Delivery mishaps can significantly affect a retailer’s reputation and, ultimately, their bottom line by losing customers. As a courier, your profitability depends on delivering a positive experience (or at least an uneventful one) to the customers of the retailers you serve. Today we dig into the two most common last-mile mishaps and what couriers can do to avoid them.

Last Mile Mishaps

Failing to address last-mile mishaps as soon as possible leaves process gaps that will only result in more frequent and severe issues in the future. As a result, more packages will be stolen, lost, or damaged, chipping away at profit margins. Further, customers will lose faith in both the retailer and you as the courier, leading to a decline in business. There are two common scenarios where a delivery mishap negatively impact customers; porch piracy and damaged packages.

Porch Piracy

Officially added to the Urban Dictionary in 2011, porch piracy is the act of trespassing onto someone’s property and stealing packages left by couriers not yet collected by the intended recipient. Package theft is rampant, with over 200 million thefts occurring yearly. Porch pirates also indiscriminately target any location where a package can be taken quickly with the least amount of security and obstruction possible.

More than a third of consumers have experienced porch pirate theft. Yet only 17% of victims report thefts to their local police. Most customers want their purchases to be returned or receive compensation from the retailer. The low reporting of theft is one reason security cameras and other protective devices do not deter porch pirates. The ineffectiveness of security systems leaves couriers searching for ways to reduce package theft.

Damaged Deliveries

There are a few reasons why packages end up damaged during shipping. One common cause is improper packaging. If a sender doesn’t take the time to pack a parcel correctly, it can quickly come apart during transit. Package damage usually happens because of incorrect box sizes or insufficient packing material. Unfortunately, proving the shipper improperly packed a product can take time and effort, if possible at all. Couriers are often made the scapegoat for the damage even if the retailer reimburses the customer.

Another explanation for damaged deliveries is poor handling by the shipping company. Sometimes, handlers, in their haste, may drop packages or throw them around. While we hope employees do right and take care of the packages they handle, everyone can have a bad day. In other instances, packages are improperly loaded and secured in vehicles, subjecting them to the bumps and turns in the road.

Lastly, damage can occur due to factors beyond anyone’s control, such as unforeseen weather conditions or not-at-fault accidents. These scenarios are challenging to avoid and are a cost of doing business. Overall, more than 10% of deliveries arrive damaged, according to StellaService.

Preventing Delivery Mishaps

Blame is passed onto the courier regardless of why a package is stolen or damaged. At the same time, retailers face financial repercussions. Fair or not, couriers can quickly lose contracts for internal and external reasons.

As previously mentioned, security systems are not deterring porch pirates, and damaged packages can happen at any point along the journey. But all is not lost. For the small and regional couriers dependent on consistent business from retailers, there are proactive steps to take that can reduce delivery mishaps.

Employee training – Install regular and comprehensive training programs on how to load correctly, transport, and deliver packages will aid in building a culture of caring for your customers and their packages. Incentive systems can also be deployed to encourage safe hanlding of deliveries.

Train your retail partners – Your customers’ priority is to sell their wares. Therefore, they may need to gain the proper knowledge on how to package their products for shipment safely. As their shipping partner, share your expertise and reduce the likelihood of future damaged packages.

Specify delivery windows – New technologies can assist in route optimization, narrowing down delivery windows. By sharing delivery windows with customers, they can ensure they are available to collect their packages from the porch quickly, or even change the devliery window on the fly.

Redelivery to secure locations – If the customer is not at home to receive their delivery, offer the option to deliver to a secure site. Locations could include their office, a nearby smart parcel locker, or an alternate address.

Require signature or acceptance – Signature deliveries often involve an additional fee. However, in concert with the retailers you serve, certain product purchases could be substantial enough to warrant collecting a signature, guaranteeing safe delivery.

Benefits of Reducing Porch Pirates and Damaged Deliveries

Reducing stolen and damaged packages will increase customer satisfaction, which 81% of marketers believe is a significant competitive factor. When the consumer receives outstanding service, the retailer gains a loyal customer. And a loyal customer for a retailer is a loyal customer for the courier.