3 Causes of late deliveries and how a 3PL can help you handle them

In this blog, we discuss three common causes of late deliveries and explain how a 3PL can help you handle them.

Delivery man wearing blue with a box and the customer's hands pointing to their watch
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On-time order delivery is one of the most important aspects of an ecommerce business. 85% of shoppers say that a poor delivery experience would prevent them from ordering with an online retailer again. To ensure a first-class customer experience and retain customer trust, your order fulfilment must run efficiently from click to delivery.

However, as businesses expand (by branching out into new locations, product lines, or sales channels) or see seasonal spikes in orders, keeping delivery promises becomes more complex. To manage higher order volumes without shipping delays and late deliveries, many businesses outsource their order fulfilment operations to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. In fact, 3PLs handle around 60% of all shipments made by ecommerce companies.

A 3PL with a proven track record of on-time delivery – like Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfilment (MCF), which has an on-time delivery rate of >99% – can help your business handle many of the causes of late deliveries. With your 3PL’s expansive logistics network and extensive order fulfilment expertise, you can ensure your deliveries are on time.

In this blog, we will discuss three common causes of late deliveries and explain how a 3PL can help you handle them.

#1: Weather

As we all know, the weather can be unpredictable – and inclement weather can quickly derail your delivery timelines. Even if the picking and packing process runs smoothly, poor weather conditions can become a hurdle and sabotage a delivery, especially in the last mile.

Indeed, inclement weather can slow down delivery drivers or damage packages and, in the event of heavy rain or snow, make it impossible for delivery drivers to leave unattended packages at the delivery address. This can cause logistics problems, hiccups in your tracking process, and higher order fulfilment costs.

Most 3PLs are prepared with contingency plans to handle weather issues (along with supply chain disruptions and other unexpected events). You can collaborate with your 3PL to ensure that they are ready and able to deal with any delays caused by inclement weather.

Stay up to date with new Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfilment features, best practices, and more.

#2: Seasonal spikes in orders

During peak holiday shopping seasons, ecommerce companies typically experience increased order volume, and handling logistics for the surge in orders can be challenging. Indeed, sales from online holiday shopping have seen a 3.5% year-over-year increase, and if your operations aren’t equipped to run smoothly, your customers will likely experience shipping delays and late deliveries.

A 3PL can help you handle seasonal spikes in orders and prevent delivery delays by:

  • Providing additional workforce and warehouse capacity to manage the high volume of orders. MCF, for example, helps businesses handle seasonal spikes by offering flexible, on-demand fulfilment and storage services. See how Halloweencostumes.com used MCF to handle a 15x increase in order volume during its peak period.
  • Streamlining your inventory management to ensure you have the right products in the right locations at the right times to satisfy increased demand, whenever and wherever it arises. MCF, for instance, will automatically, optimally distribute your inventory across Amazon’s global fulfilment network, so it’s as close as possible to your customer base. This reduces shipping times and dramatically decreases the likelihood of late deliveries during peak shopping seasons and throughout the year.

#3: Order processing inefficiency

From the instant a customer places an order on any of your sales channels, the race to fulfil that order on time to that customer’s doorstep begins. Any inefficiencies or lags in order processing can lead to late deliveries.

Minimising order processing times – when orders are received, picked, and packed in the warehouse and shipped out to customers – is one of the biggest challenges that ecommerce companies face.

Working with a 3PL can help you streamline your order processing (and – in turn – reduce late deliveries) by:

  • Utilising ecommerce integrations to automatically route your orders from your sales channels to the 3PL’s systems (instead of manually entering in the order information – a process which takes time and is prone to errors). MCF, for example, offers over 100 integrations, which allow you to seamlessly connect MCF with your back-end systems to automate order fulfilment across all your channels.
  • Optimising the picking and packing process by leveraging state-of-the-art warehouse management systems and robotics to rapidly retrieve your products from the warehouse shelves, transport them to packing stations, and pack and label them for shipment.
  • Providing fast, first-class shipping services. Some 3PLs – like MCF – are carriers themselves and will handle the shipment of your orders, while other 3PLs work closely with carriers to ensure your packages arrive on time.


Keeping your delivery promises to your customers is crucial to gaining and retaining their trust. According to recent research, over 90% of shoppers view two- to three-day delivery “as the baseline” and 30% expect same-day delivery.

Working with a 3PL can help you address and overcome the causes of late deliveries including weather, seasonal spikes in orders, and order processing inefficiency – so that you can meet your customers’ expectations for fast, reliable fulfilment.

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