How to Handle a “Shipment Exception”

Shipment exceptions can be compared to a game of building blocks

  • Written by Ellie Kwon
  • Published on July 10, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes


Have you ever had a package that was supposed to be delivered to your customer, but there were delays, or it didn’t arrive as expected? This can be frustrating for you and your customers. In this blog, we will talk about shipment exceptions. We will explain what they are, why they happen, and what you can do to prevent them.

Shipment exceptions can be compared to a game of building blocks. Like in the game, each block in the shipping process is vital. If something goes wrong with one block, the whole tower can come crashing down. But if you are careful and pay attention to every block, you can build a strong tower that won’t fall over.

So What Are Shipment Exceptions? 

When things happen unexpectedly that interrupt delivery, they’re called shipment exceptions. Examples of shipment exceptions include bad weather, problems with transportation, wrong addresses, and issues with customs. These things can happen during shipping, at any point, from pick up to delivery.

A delivery exception, in short, means a problem with your package. It might be a delay or a delivery issue. However, it doesn’t always mean your package will be late or missing. Sometimes, the package can still reach you on time, even with a delivery exception.

A woman reads a "shipment delayed" message on her phone.

Why Do Shipment Exceptions Happen?

Now, let’s talk about why these things happen. When bad weather occurs, like a big winter storm or a hurricane, it can be complicated to deliver packages safely. Transportation problems can also cause shipment exceptions, for example, if a truck gets into an accident or breaks down. 

This means packages might take longer to deliver because of the unexpected delay. If a customer gives you the wrong address, that can also cause a delay. These are just a few examples of why shipment exceptions happen.

The merchant or seller has specific responsibilities. For example, ensuring the package has been packaged correctly, has the correct labels, and is given to the shipping company. The seller must also give the correct shipping address and customs paperwork. 

If the merchant doesn’t do these things properly, they might be responsible if something goes wrong with the shipment.

The bad news is that shipment exceptions can be a big problem for your business. If a package is delayed or doesn’t arrive, your customers might get angry and leave bad reviews. This can hurt your business. Customers who have had a bad experience might order from a different store next time. Shipment exceptions can also cost you money. You might have to pay extra fees to ship the package again, or you might lose the package altogether.

Preventing Shipment Exceptions

To prevent shipment exceptions, there are several things you can do. There are vital systems that should be put in place. First and foremost, a solid tracking system should be available to both the seller and the customer. This allows all parties to monitor the shipment’s progress and identify potential delays early on.

Package Tracking

Most of us have probably been really excited about an item we’ve ordered and then immediately walked to the living room window to longingly gaze out at the street, hoping that the package will magically arrive instantly. 

Always remember to provide your customers with a tracking number for their package. This lets them see where it is and when to expect delivery. This added visibility can help set realistic expectations and cut down on unnecessary back-and-forth calls with customer support trying to figure out where the package is and when it will arrive. 

Additionally, all parties should have clear communication channels. This includes the shipper, carrier, and recipient. Work with a reliable shipping provider with a good reputation. Reliability is crucial for delivering timely packages. This allows you to address and resolve issues quickly. 

Finally, you can offer your customers the option to purchase shipping insurance to protect their packages in case of damage or loss. 

Planning For Remedy

It’s also essential to have contingency plans in place for unforeseen circumstances. Things like the aforementioned bad weather or equipment failures could disrupt shipments, highlighting the importance of having a backup plan whenever possible. 

Implementing these systems and protocols makes it possible to minimize the risk of shipment delays. This helps ensure that goods are delivered on time and in good condition. Again, taking these measures ensures that your packages are delivered on time, and your customers are happy.

The Importance of the Carrier

The carrier is a vital block in the shipping tower we mentioned earlier, as the shipping carrier is the first one that comes into play when there’s a shipment exception. This is because they are responsible for delivering the package safely and on time. They let you know if there’s a problem with the delivery and help to fix it. They have the knowledge and resources to handle these issues. This ensures your package reaches the customer correctly, even if it takes a detour to get there.

The carrier is accountable for the safe and timely delivery of the package. They are also typically the party that notifies the sender or the recipient about shipment exceptions. Also, they share the reason for the delay or the nature of the problem encountered during delivery. 

The shipping carrier is often the primary point of contact for resolving the issue. Shipping carriers have the expertise, infrastructure, and resources to make effective deliveries even when adapting to unforeseen challenges. Oftentimes, the carrier bears the liability and may even offer insurance should an item be mishandled or lost in transit.

These aspects increase the importance of using reliable carriers.


In conclusion, shipment exceptions can be a big problem for your business. They can cause delays, cost you money, and make your customers unhappy. But if you prevent shipment exceptions, you can avoid these problems. 

By giving your customers tracking information, working with a reliable shipping provider, and buying shipping insurance, you can ensure timely delivery and keep your customers happy.

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