Failed Delivery Attempt: What is It, Why It Matters, and How to Prevent It?

keyKey Takeaways:
  • A failed delivery attempt simply means that your courier executive tried to deliver an order to your intended customer but failed to do so due to multiple reasons.
  • An incomplete or inaccurate customer address can lead your driver to the wrong delivery location, resulting in a failed delivery attempt. A scheduled delivery can also fail due to the unavailability of your customer to receive their parcel.
  • To increase FADR (First attempt delivery rate), validate your customer’s address to prevent a parcel from being sent to the wrong delivery location. Implementing advanced delivery management software can also help optimize routes and prevent delivery delays or failures.

Even a day or two can feel like eons while waiting for your much-anticipated order to arrive.

What if you are all pumped up to receive your parcel, but a “Delivery Attempt Failed” notification pops up on your mobile screen? 

It would certainly be perplexing and frustrating, wouldn’t it?

This is exactly how your customer feels when they receive such failed delivery notifications.

Every failed delivery attempt not only affects your customer satisfaction levels but also aggravates your financial woes. The reason? It is the additional redelivery costs that you have to bear for every new delivery attempt you make.

Did you know that the average cost per failed delivery incurred to retail executives in the United States stood at about 17.2 U.S. dollars? So, it is evident that cutting down on failed deliveries is undeniably important for you to stay profitable and competitive.

This blog discusses the concept of a delivery attempt, why it fails, and tips to make it successful. It further explains how popular delivery trends can contribute to higher first-attempt successful deliveries.

What is a Delivery Attempt?

A delivery attempt refers to an effort that your courier or delivery agent makes to deliver a package or goods to your intended customer.

It can be successful or unsuccessful, depending on various factors, like your customer’s availability, the accuracy of their shipping address, or traffic constraints. 

An ideal scenario for you as a delivery manager is when your carrier succeeds in completing an order on their first attempt. 

Logistics experts consider successful deliveries on the first attempt as a metric to measure delivery efficiency. A higher number of successful first-time deliveries indicates an optimal delivery performance and vice-versa.

This metric is called the first attempt delivery rate, which you’ll learn about in the following section.

What is the First Attempt Delivery Rate?

First attempt delivery rate (FADR) is a measure of how efficient your delivery process is.

A successful first delivery attempt is when your delivery agent delivers an order in its entirety to the designated customer or destination. It doesn’t consider any partially fulfilled order that requires a second or third attempt to complete.

Note: Some logistics experts call the First Attempt Delivery Rate (FADR) the First Time Right (FTR).

The First Attempt Delivery Rate is the total number of successful deliveries on the first attempt divided by the total number of deliveries multiplied by 100. You can calculate it in the form of a percentage using the following formula.

First Attempt Delivery Rate = 

(Number of successful deliveries on the first attempt / Total number of deliveries) * 100

Let’s take an example to make it more comprehensible. 

Suppose your carrier made 150 delivery attempts in a day but managed to deliver only 120 orders. 

FADR = (120 / 150) * 100 = 80%. 

It implies that 80% of parcels were delivered on the first attempt. 

As a rule of thumb, If your FADR is above 90%, you can consider it GOOD. If it exceeds 95%, it is EXCELLENT.

Now that you have understood what FADR is, let’s understand why first-attempt deliveries fail which causes it to dip.

12 Major Reasons that Lead to a Failed Delivery Attempt

You, your shipping partner, your customer, or even nature can lead to a delivery failure. 

Below are the prominent factors or reasons that result in a failed delivery attempt or delivery exception

1. Incorrect or incomplete address

 An incomplete or wrong address forms one of the most common reasons for a failed delivery. It can happen when your customer inputs an address with inaccuracies, like a wrong street number, missing apartment number, or incorrect postal codes. Another reason behind a failed delivery can be when you inadvertently omit or format shipping information when transmitting it to your carrier.

2. Customer absence or unavailability

An unsuccessful delivery attempt can also occur when your customer is unavailable to receive their ordered package. It is especially applicable to orders with expensive items and often requires a signature from your customer as proof of delivery.

3. Unclear delivery instructions

If your customer provides ambiguous or vague guidance in the form of incomprehensive delivery instructions, it can cause a missed delivery. For example, if they fail to specify clearly where to leave their package in their absence or how to access their property, an attempted delivery may fail.

4. Communication barriers

Delivery agents may need to connect with customers to get additional information to reach their addresses. If your customer has shared a wrong, inactive, or unreachable phone number, communication barriers can arise between your delivery executive and the customer. As a result, it can lead to a failed delivery attempt.

5. Unforeseen issues, unfavorable weather, or natural calamities

Unprecedented issues like your agents’ vehicle breakdowns or accidents can lead to failed delivery attempts. At times, inclement weather conditions, including severe rainfall or hail storms, can also cause a delivery failure. Natural calamities like landslides or earthquakes, especially in hazard-prone areas like hilly regions, can also cause a delivery failure.

6. Security concerns

Your customer may want your delivery agent to drop off their package at a specific place. However, if your delivery personnel fails to find a secure location at the specified place, they may decide to postpone the delivery. For instance, they may refrain from leaving a parcel in an unsecured location like a basement or porch, especially if it is without security cameras.

7. Constrained access

Even if your intended delivery destination is complete and correct but lies in a gated community with stringent security protocols, it may hamper deliveries. This is because security gates, access codes, or multiple checkpoints may slow down deliveries or even cause failed delivery attempt efforts, especially for same-day orders.

8. Unmanageable package dimensions 

If your delivery executive is not equipped with specialized equipment to handle heavy or oversized items, they may not be able to complete the order successfully. For example, a piece of furniture like a sofa needs things like ropes, hooks, or ladders to deliver it to the tenth floor of a high-rise building. If your team doesn’t have them, it may fail to execute the delivery successfully. 

9. Shortage of delivery drivers or vehicles

If you have a small business with limited delivery agents or fields, you may face problems handling bulk orders. It may be even more overwhelming if your business faces seasonal spikes in order volumes, leading to delivery delays or failures.

10. In-transit damage or breakage

In case your shipment gets damaged or broken before reaching your intended recipient, your customer may not accept it. This will not only make your delivery attempt count as failed but also escalate the costs to redeliver the replacement.

11. Sub-optimal delivery route planning

A lack of automated route planning that considers traffic constraints, distance, priority orders, or preferred delivery time windows can lead to the creation of inefficient routes. Taking these sub-optimal routes may cause your delivery agents to get stuck in traffic. They may then not be able to align their delivery with your customers’ availability, resulting in missed deliveries.

12. Customs issues

International shipping may face an additional bottleneck of customs clearance to transport a parcel to the delivery location. If your customer fails to provide documents such as a government-issued photo ID or current utility bill for address proof, it may cause delivery delays and failures. 

Moving ahead, the next section explains what happens following an unsuccessful delivery attempt.

What is the Typical Course of Action after the First Delivery Attempt Fails?

If a delivery is not successful in the first attempt, most businesses make a second delivery attempt to fulfill the order. In some cases, they may also go for the third delivery attempt. 

However, if a shipping company doesn’t succeed in delivering an order after several failed delivery attempts, it may decide on what to do next.

If the package is prepaid, the courier company may sometimes decide to leave the parcel with a local agent or drop it off at the nearest post office. However, in most cases, it may send an ordered parcel (to be paid through cash-on-delivery) back to the shipper.

Note: While this is the standard procedure to handle failed delivery attempts, it can vary from one company to another based on internal policies, contractual trade agreements, or local laws.

In the next section, you’ll find out how a failed delivery can hamper your business.

5 Consequences of an Unsuccessful Delivery

A failed delivery eats into your profit margins and affects your bottom line drastically. 

Here are the ill effects of an unsuccessful delivery attempt.

1. Additional fuel costs

An unsuccessful delivery may force you to spend additional costs on the fuel required for the second or third delivery attempt. 

2. Extra time and labor on redelivery attempts

Besides the additional fuel costs, a failed delivery also demands unwanted time and labor that you could use for more critical tasks instead of redelivering the order.

3. Increased warehousing expenses

When a package returns to a warehouse or storage area after a failed delivery attempt, it adds to unwanted warehousing and storage costs.

4. Legal penalties

Enterprises or businesses may often sign a contract to procure regular supplies of certain materials. If you fail to comply with the terms to handle a failed delivery as outlined in the agreement, it may attract legal suits or penalties.

5. Escalated delivery status queries and poor customer satisfaction

An unsuccessful delivery attempt can make your customers connect with your support team to know their parcel’s whereabouts, increasing Where is My Order (WISMO) queries. It can strain your service team, hampering their productivity. 

Handling bulk requests also leaves you with less time to focus on more critical aspects like improving product quality or turnaround time, hampering your business. A failed delivery can also leave your customers frustrated and lose trust in your brand. If multiple attempts to deliver orders fail, it can impact your brand reputation over time. 

Therefore, ensuring your FADR remains high is crucial to avoid all these consequences and avail of benefits, including

  • Lowered redelivery costs associated with the additional time and money spent on the second or third delivery attempt.
  • Reduced reverse logistics and warehousing expenses to handle a returned item after a failed delivery attempt and a higher profit margin on each order.
  • Decreased frequent service calls to know the status of ordered items or rescheduled deliveries, boosting customer satisfaction levels.

Now that you know why FADR matters for your business, let’s explore six proven strategies to increase it.

6 Effective Practices to Prevent a Failed Attempted Delivery

As a retailer, you must always strive to complete every delivery successfully on the first attempt. 

While achieving 100% FADR may be challenging, you can still implement the following six effective measures to increase it as much as you can.

1. Make sure your delivery address is correct and complete

An incorrect shipping address is one of the most common reasons behind a failed delivery. Therefore, it is essential to implement an address verification tool in your website and app. You should also let your customers enable GPS to auto-detect and use their current location as their delivery address for improved accuracy.

Moreover, providing your customers with the ‘auto-complete’ feature can also help make address entry efficient and accurate. This functionality uses a geolocation database to generate a list of real-world delivery addresses to select from based on the first few characters your customers enter. This reduces the possibility of data entry errors that are common when customers enter their addresses manually.

2. Offer your customers delivery time options

Offering multiple delivery time windows provides your customers with the flexibility to pick a suitable time slot that aligns with their availability. When customers can plan for the delivery and be available to receive the order, it minimizes the chances of missed deliveries.  

This provision of time slots also makes your customers’ shopping experience more personalized and efficient while increasing the success rate of first-time deliveries and slashing multiple delivery attempts.

3. Establish clear communication channels

Proper communication between you, your delivery agents, and your customers is pivotal to streamlining your delivery management. Therefore, you should define clear communication channels to get up-to-date information on delivery agents’ real-time progress and stay connected with your customers.

Further, you should also monitor your delivery drivers’ movements to predict and convey more precise estimated times of arrival (ETAs) to your customers. These accurate delivery status confirmations through SMS or email will help your customers be available and prepared to receive their orders, increasing the number of successful first delivery attempts.

4. Focus on refining your packaging and handling 

Handling fragile or high-value goods demands extra security to prevent any breakage or damage during their transportation or delivery. Therefore, focusing on robust and secured packaging while keeping it easy to handle is a must. 

Besides, you should make sure to generate a shipping label for each product. It should contain all the necessary information, including your and your customer’s names, addresses, and a tracking number. These details help your carrier ensure that your order is not misplaced or delivered to the wrong address, reducing failed deliveries.

5. Offer multiple payment, shipping options, and address types

Providing multiple payment options helps your customers choose the most feasible payment method based on their preference or feasibility. It reduces the chances of failed deliveries due to payment failures. Additionally, you can offer multiple shipping options like standard, express, or scheduled deliveries to meet your customers’ diverse needs and preferences. 

When your customer chooses the delivery option that aligns with their preference and urgency, it increases their chance of being present to receive their order. You should also offer various address categories like Home or Office and specify the daily delivery window for each. Based on the address type, you can determine the time when your customer is more likely to be present and schedule the delivery accordingly to reduce failed attempts. 

6. Implement delivery management software 

Technology is transforming every industry today, and last-mile delivery logistics is no exception. Therefore, considering an advanced delivery management software solution is the need of the hour. This software provides multi-stop-route optimization to optimize your routes based on traffic, distance, priority orders, and preferred delivery time windows. This efficient routing will help deliver your orders timely and on the first attempt. 

Further, you can also embed the real-time tracking functionality in your delivery management software. Software like Upper provides GPS tracking that lets you monitor your drivers’ progress in real time. It helps identify and address any issues proactively to ensure timely deliveries. Delivery management software also helps create dynamic custom notifications to inform your customers about upcoming deliveries. It helps them stay prepared and present, preventing failed delivery attempts.

Looking to Make Your Every Delivery Attempt a Success?

Upper’s route optimization software is the magic wand you need! Leverage the advanced algorithm it features to create the most efficient delivery routes and avoid delivery delays and failures.

Using it, you can optimize your delivery routes based on constraints, including

  • Real-time traffic constraints
  • Customers’ preferred delivery time slots
  • Order priorities
  • Drivers’ delivery schedules
  • Time and distance involved

So, implement Upper now to experience an unparalleled surge in your first delivery success rate!

While implementing the above strategies can surely lower your failed deliveries, you may still face occasional incidents of failed delivery attempts.

The next section is about how you can handle a failed delivery attempt once it happens.

3 Steps to Handle a Failed Delivery Attempt

If you find out that your delivery executive has logged a failed delivery attempt, you need to act proactively to address the situation.

Here are the three steps that you can follow immediately to handle the situation.

1. Communicate with your customer

Contacting your customers to inform them about a failed attempt is the first and foremost step. Ensure that you explain the reason behind the unsuccessful delivery as transparently and precisely as you can. Besides, it is important to address their queries and provide them with all the requisite guidance or assistance in rescheduling their deliveries.

2. Provide multiple redelivery options

Retaining your customer’s trust in your brand is vital to boost your repeat business. For that, you can provide multiple redelivery options, including redelivery pickup, additional instructions, or even some discount as a way to compensate for the failed delivery.

3. Track and follow-up

Tracking the situation and following up with your customer to confirm whether they’ve eventually received their order is paramount. This is because it makes your customer think that you prioritize their problem resolution, helping you regain their trust and loyalty.

Going ahead, the next section explains some prominent current delivery logistics trends that can prove to be a game-changer for e-retailers in reducing your attempted deliveries.

Top 4 Last-Mile Delivery Logistics Trends that Can Lower Failed Delivery Attempts

The delivery logistics industry is witnessing a transformation with the advent of advanced technology solutions. 

Here are the top trends that can open the door to reduced failed deliveries and enhanced FADR.

1. Drone delivery

E-commerce giants like Amazon have already ushered in the era of drone delivery, and other companies are following suit. 

Delivery through drones does not have to face standard routing constraints like traffic congestion or inaccessible addresses. They rather provide a fast and direct route, minimizing the chances of missed deliveries due to road conditions or accessibility issues. Further, they are more agile and enable precise drop-offs of parcels in far-flung areas, enhancing overall delivery success rates.

2. Autonomous vehicles

Vehicles like cars equipped with self-driving capabilities don’t need a human driver to operate them. Unlike human drivers who are prone to exhaustion or fatigue, these self-driving delivery vehicles can operate round the clock with minimal downtime. Moreover, their high adaptability to traffic patterns and routing optimization pave the way to lowering failed delivery attempts and achieving a reliable delivery experience.

3. Smart lockers

A smart parcel locker is a storage solution with built-in smart technology that allows it to automate package delivery, notification, and distribution. Your delivery agents can leave the unattended order in it. Your intended recipient receives the notification that the package is ready for pickup, along with access instructions. 

Once your customer arrives at the locker’s location, they can follow those steps to verify their identity and retrieve the package. It reduces the need for multiple delivery rounds, increasing the first-attempt delivery success rate (FADR).

4. Blockchain technology

As a large amount of information needs to be transferred between you, your courier or shipping partner, and the customer, blockchain technology can come in handy to secure it. It enables the creation of distributed digital ledgers to store and verify delivery details securely, preventing any chances of unwarranted tampering with them. 

This helps add an extra layer of security for your sensitive customer information, including the shipping address, reducing failed deliveries due to misleading delivery information.

Frequently Asked Questions

A delivery attempt is when your courier or delivery driver makes an effort to deliver an ordered item at your customer’s address.

While this number can vary from one company to another based on their policies or local laws, most businesses usually make up to three delivery attempts before determining the future course of action.

First attempt delivery rate is the percentage of successful deliveries made in the first attempt out of the total deliveries scheduled.

FADR = (Total successful deliveries/Total deliveries) x 100

A high first-attempt delivery rate helps you save additional costs of redelivery or storage. It establishes you as a reliable retailer in your customers’ eyes, contributing to your business growth.

You can follow these tips to increase your first attempt delivery rate: (1) Verify your customer’s address, (2) Establish proper communication channels, (3) Package your goods securely, (4) Offer delivery time slots, (5) Use advanced delivery management software, and (6) Provide multiple shipment options, payment methods, and address types.

A failed delivery attempt is when your delivery agent makes an effort to deliver an ordered item to the intended destination but fails to do so.

Failed delivery can happen due to the reasons, including (1) The lack of a correct address, (2) Recipient unavailability, (3) Unforeseen situations, inclement weather, or natural hazards, (4) Security concerns, (5) Constrained access, and (6) Unmanageable package dimensions.

A logistics company generally goes for a second or even third delivery attempt to fulfill the order. In case the delivery is still not successful, the parcel is sent back to its origin.

Route optimization involves creating the most efficient routes or paths for delivery drivers to follow. This reduces the chances of their getting stuck in traffic jams or missing your customers’ preferred delivery slots, increasing the chances of successful delivery on the first try.

Various route optimization software like Upper or Dynroute leverages sophisticated algorithms to create the most optimal routes, considering constraints like the distance of destinations, drivers’ availability, traffic, or preferred delivery time slots. You can pick a routing solution based on your unique business requirements and the features that meet them.

Common notifications that your customer can get are: (1) Attempt delivery – problem with address (2) Attempted delivery – no access to delivery location, (3) Attempted delivery – left with agent, and (4) Receiver refused the delivery.

Fake delivery notifications are phishing text messages or emails that scammers send to customers, notifying them of a “failed delivery” and providing a link to reschedule it or update delivery preferences. It is advisable to refrain from clicking this link as it can cause identity theft and financial loss.

Strategies + Technology Integration: Your Key to Successful Deliveries

Every failed delivery attempt incurs extra costs associated with the redelivery and storage of products. Therefore, your aim must be minimizing your failed deliveries and maximizing your successful delivery attempt rate. 

A judicious combination of proven practices discussed above and delivery management software can help you achieve it fast and efficiently.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.