Freight shipping delays can create problems for shippers and their customers. Reputational damage and lost revenue are just a few more substantial problems that can arise from delayed shipments. But why are there shipping delays, and how can they be prevented?

Many factors can cause shipping delays. The good news is that partnering with the right 3PL can mitigate most of these factors. To help you reduce the number of delays your business must contend with, let’s look at the various reasons why shipping delays happen, the consequences of chronic freight delays, and how Zengistics can help you prevent delayed shipments.

What Causes Freight Shipping Delays?

So what is causing shipping delays? While some issues, such as labor shortages, are relatively new, other issues that can cause shipping delays have been a problem since the time of sailboats. Some of the more common causes of freight delays include:


Labor shortages following the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted almost every industry, including logistics and transportation. A lack of dockworkers is one of the biggest labor shortage issues creating shipping delays. Still, shortages of truck drivers, warehouse employees, and other employees throughout the global supply chain also create delays.


Demand for transportation services remains at an all-time high, but that demand will surge even higher when the holiday season rolls around. Driven heavily by online ordering, this year’s holiday season surge is poised to stress supply chains further and is bound to create an abundance of shipping delays.


There’s no preventing extreme weather, and there’s often no way to predict it. Weather-related delays are nothing new, but a rise in extreme weather events driven by ongoing climate change has made this issue even more common.


Product shortages, clogged ports, limited carrier capacity, and spiraling input costs are just a few of the supply chain issues that have plagued shippers in recent years. In many cases, these issues can directly create freight shipping delays. These ongoing challenges highlight the importance of creating a supply chain that is optimized via the right technology and partnerships.


When carriers are not provided with accurate shipping documentation, they often don’t have the information needed to deliver the shipment correctly. This can create delays and increased last-mile delivery costs and, in some cases, cause the shipment to become lost.


Many of the supply chain issues that can lead to shipping delays result from poor logistics planning and collaboration. Creating a flexible and transparent supply chain optimized for efficiency is crucial to preventing delayed shipments.


The carrier you partner with obviously has a major role in determining whether or not your freight arrives on time. If you aren’t scoring your carriers using a carrier scorecard, you are just throwing darts in the dark and hoping for the best. Scoring carriers allows you to determine which of them have the highest on-time delivery rate so that you can choose your partnerships based on reliable data.

The Impacts of Chronic Shipping Delays

Freight shipping delays can be a serious source of lost revenue for shippers. A recent McKinsey article states, “For companies in most sectors, a single prolonged shock to production could wipe out 30 to 50 percent of one year’s earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation.”

One of the reasons why chronic shipping delays can be so damaging to a retailer’s bottom line is the reputational damage they cause. Though shipping delays are often not the shipper’s fault, customers typically blame the shipper when a shipment does not arrive on time. In fact, 41% of consumers say that they place the blame for delayed shipments on retailers.Furthermore,  32% of consumers state that shipping problems or delays are the biggest drawbacks to e-commerce purchases.

Statistics such as these underscore that freight shipping delays damage customer satisfaction, erode customer loyalty, and harm a retailer’s reputation and bottom line—even if the delay is not directly their fault.

Tips to Reduce Freight Shipment Delays

Freight shipping delays are sometimes unavoidable, but shippers can reduce their frequency using the right tools and strategies. To help you avoid the numerous consequences of frequently delayed shipments, here are five proven tips to employ:


Supply chain visibility is one of the most important keys to preventing freight delays. When you can track the location and status of your shipments in real time, you can respond to expectations as they happen and prevent those exceptions from creating substantial freight shipping delays.


Consistent communication with your carriers and other supply chain partners can help further improve supply chain visibility and prevent issues that might otherwise create delays. Communication with customers is likewise essential when delays occur to keep them updated about the status of their delayed shipment and what you are doing to fix the problem.


We’ve already mentioned the importance of scoring carrier performance and choosing your partner based on reliable, on-time delivery data. By choosing your carriers carefully, you can limit the number of delay-causing issues that are your carrier’s fault.


Providing inaccurate delivery information or documentation is one of the few ways that shippers themselves can end up directly causing shipping delays. Along with potential delays or lost freight, these issues can lead to accessorial fees for incorrect address information and repeat deliveries. One way to ensure proper documentation is to use software designed to check delivery documentation data against known records.


All four tips for preventing freight shipping delays we’ve already covered are elements of optimizing a supply chain for on-time delivery, but they aren’t the whole story. Every shipper will have unique challenges within their supply chain that cause freight delays. Identifying these challenges within your supply chain is the first step to creating a supply chain optimized for preventing shipping delays.

How a Third-Party Logistics Partner Can Mitigate Shipping Delays

Partnering with an experienced and dedicated 3PL such as Zengistics can reduce the frequency of delayed shipments in numerous ways. For one, your 3PL will  help evaluate your supply chain and identify issues causing ongoing delays, putting their in-depth logistics experience to work for your organization to solve those challenges.

At Zengistics, we help shippers mitigate freight delays by utilizing cutting-edge tools and technology. Real-time container tracking solutions enable our partners to provide complete supply chain visibility that shippers can  leverage to address exceptions as they arise. Using Turvo TMS to score carriers across our vast carrier network, we match our partners with carriers that have a proven track record of on-time delivery.

Lastly, partnering with a 3PL committed to your company’s success means that you will always have an experienced team of logistics experts working on your behalf to prevent freight shipping delays. From helping shippers optimize their logistics network via managed services/4PL for strategic planning to helping arrange rescue shipments for delayed freight, we at Zengistics are ready and able to provide whatever service or solution your company needs to prevent freight delays.

MItigate Freight Shipping Delays with the Right 3PL Partner

Mitigating freight shipping delays is one of the most vital keys to ensuring customer satisfaction and preventing revenue loss due to reputational damage. Contact us today to learn more about how partnering with Zengistics can help you optimize your supply chain for on-time delivery!