The United States Postal Services (USPS) is the national courier mandated by the government to provide secure, reliable, and affordable mail & package delivery from the biggest cities to the smallest hamlets. With more than 31,000 retail locations within the US, the courier delivers an estimated 700 million pieces of packages daily.
Due to its robust delivery network and affordable shipping service, many eCommerce retailers rely on it to offer cost-effective shipping solutions to their customers.
But every courier encounters delays, and USPS delays are inevitable. How you handle them is what makes the difference. To avoid frustrating their customers, eCommerce merchants should understand the top reasons why USPS shipping delays occur so that they can prepare accordingly to address any delivery challenges before buyers notice potential red flags.
Merchants looking to ship with USPS, can access their most popular services at discounted rates through Easyship. In addition, you'll gain access to dedicated tracking and a fully branded post-purchase experience.
Here, we give you some reasons why USPS shipments might be delayed.
Unpredictable weather conditions are some of the top reasons behind most of the USPS delivery delays. For example, severe winter storms bring snow, freezing rain, and bitter temperatures to many parts of the US. Unexpected power outages are also common during this period.
This makes it hard for delivery tracks to move around and results in unavoidable postal facility service disruptions occasioned by bad weather and other natural disasters or events such as floods and storms.
During such times, residential customers should check the USPS Mail Service Disruptions Website for current information on USPS weather-related delays in their neighborhood or contact the customer service center at 1-800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777). To report a disruption, businesses can send an email at [email protected]
2. Delivery timelines are estimates
When shipping USPS, small businesses should always remember that most of its delivery services do not offer delivery guarantees, but estimates. The only USPS service that offers a delivery guarantee is Priority Mail Express, and you can launch a claim to initiate a refund if the delivery window is missed.
A delivery estimate, on the other hand, means that your package may arrive before or after the designated date. You are not entitled to any refund in case your package is delayed.
For example, the USPS First Class Package offers a delivery estimate of 1-3 days. But your package may arrive quicker than expected or arrive a couple of days later than this timeframe.
For services with delivery estimates of 1-3 days, you are advised to wait for 5 days and up to 14 days for services with delivery estimates of 2-10 business days. If your package doesn't arrive within that time frame, you should contact USPS customer care to discuss the issues behind the delay.
3. Holiday rush
There is usually a spike in online shopping during the holidays. Christmas and the new year's holiday seasons are usually the busiest periods for USPS package delivery. In 2020, parcel volume was up 14% through Dec. 12 compared to the same period in 2019.
To meet the Christmas delivery deadline, private express carriers like FedEx and UPS, as it happened during the 2020 Christmas season, cut off deliveries for some retailers. That means most of the new orders that come during holidays go through USPS.
Such holiday rush results in delivery volume increases that overwhelm the USPS delivery capacity. This results in USPS shipping delays as customers rush to shop and send gifts to their loved ones.
To avoid being caught up in the holiday rush, eCommerce retailers should encourage their customers to make their holiday purchases early enough. You can easily do that by displaying holiday shipping deadlines on your website so that your buyers know what to expect before they make the purchase.
Since Covid-19, there has been an unprecedented spike in online shopping as more Americans scramble for their health by avoiding in-person store visits. It is important to remember that USPS isn't immune to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
From lockdowns and social distancing restrictions to USPS employees being hit by the virus, there are many reasons as to why small businesses may experience USPS shipping delays.
For example, According to the American Postal Workers Union, almost 19,000 out of the 644,000 USPS workers had contracted the virus by Dec. 22, 2020, and were under quarantine.
Such instances affect the courier's ability to deliver on its promises, leading to packages being stacked up inside USPS facilities for days.
Unfortunately, covid-19-related delays are still a reality today, and since USPS hasn't issued any notice on when normal delivery services should resume, eCommerce retailers should factor in the impact of covid-19 in their shipping options.
5. Package Got Lost
Although this is a rare case, a damaged or lost package is another reason why you may experience USPS shipping delays. If you haven't received your package for more than 7 days after the estimated delivery time frame, you should consider raising the issue with USPS.
Consider submitting a Missing Mail search request online at MissingMail.USPS.com or file a claim for insured items meeting the appropriate time frame. You can also visit your local post office for assistance in filling out a Missing Mail request.
6. The address is not correct
Shipping to the wrong address is another reason why you may experience USPS package delays. This happens when your customer provides you with the wrong address, or when there is a typo or an error in the recipient's delivery address.
That means your package will be delivered to the wrong address, or there will be a delivery exception, hence resulting in further delivery delays.
To help avoid USPS delivery delays due to a wrong address, the courier offers Package Intercept services within the US. To reroute a package, it must have a tracking number, and must not be Standard Mail and periodicals.
As long as the package hasn't been delivered or released for delivery, USPS will make every effort to locate the item, redirect it, and deliver it to the correct address.
To reroute a package, just log in to your USPS account and submit your request. You will have to pay the Package Intercept fee plus the estimated shipping cost to the new address.
7. Pickup notice left at your residence
Sometimes, USPS delays occur because posties may be unable to deliver your package. After all, there was no one to collect it, your house was locked or there was a barking dog in your residence.
In such cases, your package is left at the nearest Post Office, and you will find a pickup notice about where your package is and the possible pickup time.
8. Unusual circumstances
A lot happens during the fulfillment and delivery processes, and there are usually unforeseen circumstances that result in USPS package delays. Truck breakdowns, accidents, traffic challenges, natural disasters, changes in carrier routes, severe weather, and staffing fluctuations in Post Office facilities are just a few unusual reasons why your package may be delayed.
And there is usually nothing that you or the courier can do about these situations, and your package may take a little longer to arrive.
eCommerce retailers should consider sharing tracking information with their customers so that they can remain updated about the delivery status of their packages and lessen much of the delivery anxiety that arises due to these unusual circumstances.
How Easyship Can Help?
USPS delivery delays, just like any other shipping carrier, are inevitable due to the various reasons we have discussed above. Easyship can help you navigate most of the USPS shipping delays in the following ways:
- A network of fulfillment centers: We partner with fulfillment centers in different locations to help you cut on shipping costs and dwarf delivery timelines.
- Commercial Plus Pricing(CPP): All USPS shipments sent via Easyship have the advantage of CPP rates to help you realize substantial savings.
- Manage the entire USPS shipping experience: Through our platform, you can easily schedule pickups, generate shipping labels, and offer accurate pricing and delivery estimates using a shipping rates calculator.
- Tracking: You can take advantage of our global tracking system to offer your buyers a streamlined post-purchase experience with branded emails, dedicated tracking pages, and text message alerts.
Sign up for a free Easyship account and integrate your USPS account to your Easyship dashboard to get started!
USPS Delays FAQ
What Happens if My USPS Package is Late?
As we have already seen, most of the USPS services don't offer a delivery guarantee. That means your package may arrive before or after the estimated delivery time frame.
You are therefore advised to wait for five more days after the delivery window has passed. If the delay persists, consider contacting customer service to enquire about the delay.
What Happens if USPS Tracking Doesn't Update for Days?
The most recent tracking status of your package should appear on the USPS tracking page. If there isn't any status available or the information doesn't change for days, consider sending an email to USPS Customer Service or call them directly via 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) for inquiry. can we say here that they can check this guide.
What Happens If USPS Loses My Package?
First, you should submit a Missing Mail search request. USPS will do its best to locate your missing package and send it to you.
If the item isn't found, you may be able to request a refund if you used a service with a money-back guarantee such as Priority Mail Express.
If you had an insurance cover for your mail or package, you may be able to file an insurance claim for a damaged or missing package within 60 days.