5 On-Time Delivery Tips for Small Businesses


On-time delivery is critical to a company’s efficiency and service in any industry. Customers want to receive their goods as soon as possible in today’s technology-driven world. Therefore, the final touch point in the supply chain represents your ability to efficiently fulfill your customer’s needs. Small businesses must deliver products on time, as a good reputation is essential to your bottom line and customer loyalty.

Why is On-Time Delivery Important?

Whether you’re shipping to customers or businesses, delayed shipments are damaging. Late deliveries slow down supply chains and hurt customer relationships. In fact, 17% of consumers may not shop with a retailer again after receiving one late shipment. In addition, over half of the consumers wouldn’t shop with a retailer after two or more late deliveries.

High-level service is no longer optional, with more competitors appearing in the market and increasing customers’ demands. If you don’t adjust to the market’s needs, you will fall behind. There are many ways for small businesses to provide on-time shipping and deliver a positive customer experience to their audience.

Common Reasons for Delayed Deliveries

Knowing how to have efficient deliveries is essential, especially during the peak shipping season. However, it’s also good to know the common reasons for delayed deliveries to avoid them in the future.

Malfunctions in Technology

Technology is everywhere, but it’s not always perfect. Technology helps packages stay on track and enable customers to watch their packages as they are shipped and delivered. With some imperfect moments, technology can cause problems when the system is not up to date or malfunctions. Technology paired together must be on the same level to work together comprehensively for companies and 3PLs.

Unsuccessful Delivery Attempts

When there is a delayed delivery, it’s not always the driver’s fault. The customer is at fault when they aren’t around to sign for the delivery. Without a signature, some packages must stay with the driver. Drivers can’t wait for the customer since they must move on to the next delivery and ensure the entire process keeps moving.

Peak Shipping Season

The peak shipping season occurs during the holiday shopping season, so everyone orders gifts and expects their packages to come as soon as possible. Companies get overwhelmed and must keep up with the demand for orders. Planning and having the proper staffing during the holiday season can ensure you’re prepared and avoid delays.

How to ensure on-time delivery?

1. Analyze Internal Processes

Are some of your inbound materials consistently delivered late or damaged? Are later deliveries affecting some customers more often than others? Sometimes suppliers, customers, and freight carriers cause late deliveries. With the visibility you gain from a transportation management system (TMS), you can pinpoint which partners in your supply chain are causing trouble and work with them to fix it.

2. Estimate Dwell Time at Your Facility

The methods you use to ship items may slow the transportation process and cause late deliveries. Dwell time is how long a driver must wait at your facility or location, which is very important. If the dwell time is too long, the driver must take an extra day to arrive at the destination due to hours-of-service rules. Long dwell times will decrease a driver’s willingness to haul your freight, leaving you to work with a horrible history carrier of drivers and trucks out of service.

3. Create Visibility into Freight Movement

Small businesses typically ship through the less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping mode. Although LTL shipping is convenient and fast, you are particularly sensitive to delays. LTL trailers get filled with multiple loads from different companies, so the route is longer, and more freight handling is required, which leads to a higher chance of damage. When you ship LTL, avoid delays and damage by ensuring a track and trace feature is available to keep an eye on your freight. It’s also valuable for properly scheduling shipments, considering minor disruptions that can cause delays.

4. Lean on 3PL Expertise

Small businesses mostly rely on themselves in every aspect of the company. However, this may be a problem as you may not have the staffing to coordinate an intricate supply chain and demonstrate promising results. Some businesses work with freight brokers at third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to eliminate shipping delays and other disruptions. Some 3PLs have proprietary technology and a large carrying capacity to assist your business, like PLS Logistics Services. These resources enable visibility into your transportation process and can result in some of the lowest linehaul rates on the market. These carriers are pre-qualified for safety and security, so you will experience less frequent disruptions. A 3PL’s expertise will help you increase shipment speed and reliability and reduce costs. Also, it will take care of transporting your goods while you focus on other core competencies.

5. Always Inform Customers of Late Deliveries

While warning customers of an anticipated disruption won’t stop the shipment from being delayed, it can mitigate the negative impact on reputation and perceived service. Having track and trace features from a TMS will enable you to warn customers of late delivery. 24% of online shopping customers say they’d most likely purchase from a company more than once that offers efficient shipment tracking. When your customers are made aware of a delay in shipping, they can make plans to notify their customers or prepare to receive the shipment at a different date, reducing the inefficiencies on their end.

Ultimately, a good planning strategy and tracking technology will benefit companies that want to ship faster. Analyzing processes will help you understand the gaps and, therefore, will lead to the results.

Work with a Freight Broker for On-time Delivery

If you’re a small business interested in streamlining your shipping strategy, PLS Logistics Services can help! We provide customers with a user-friendly TMS with access to over 55,000 carriers. We also guarantee one freight broker will be your primary point of contact for all your shipments. To get started, get a quote today!

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