What is a Missed Delivery and Why Does it Happen?

keyKey Takeaways:
  • A missed delivery occurs when a scheduled parcel does not reach its intended recipient or location.
  • Some of the common reasons for missed deliveries include the recipient’s absence, wrong address, weather conditions, customs delays, and logistical issues.
  • Promptly communicating with customers, verifying addresses, and offering alternative delivery options, including attempted delivery, are key for delivery services.

Ever excitedly awaited a delivery only to find a frustrating “Sorry We Missed You” note? 

It’s a disheartening experience that impacts delivery worldwide. Missing deliveries can disrupt customers’ plans and delay access to important items or gifts. For businesses, these failed delivery attempts can impact customer satisfaction and damage their brand reputation.

A missed delivery at the estimated time of arrival (ETA) is frustrating, whether due to the recipient being unavailable or incorrect addresses. According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, failed deliveries cost companies billions of dollars each year.

With the rising costs and negative impacts of missed deliveries on both businesses and customers, understanding what a missed delivery is and how to overcome it is crucial for enhancing the overall delivery experience.

What is a Missed Delivery?

A missed delivery refers to a situation in which a scheduled package fails to reach its intended recipient or location on the specified delivery date or time. The most common reasons for missing or failed delivery attempts are the recipient’s unavailability at the address, weather conditions, and more.

A missed delivery exception is a delivery status that implies any unavoidable situation that prevents the successful delivery of parcels. However, missed deliveries can affect any retail or delivery business in a way that may affect customer loyalty.

Most Common Reasons for a Missed Delivery

As stated earlier, many reasons might trigger missed deliveries. Therefore, here are the most common reasons that contribute to a missed delivery:

1. Absence of the receiver

The most common and evident reason for a missed delivery attempt is the absence of the receiver. 

The estimated arrival time of the order is always updated beforehand for the customer. Hours ago, the “out for delivery” notification was sent to the client with the details of delivery personnel.

If the customer is still unavailable at the given address, it is a missed delivery scenario. 

Even today, some packages need physical signatures from the clients upon delivery. Therefore, they cannot even be left with the neighbors without the customer’s consent.

2. Damaged labels or incomplete address

Every package has a shipping label that confirms the address in the destination city so that drivers and staff can make a successful delivery. This shipping label helps with the parcel’s online tracking.

But if the label and its barcode are damaged, and the address cannot be scanned or read properly, the package delivery might get delayed. 

A delivery exception code will be generated if the important shipping details are unscannable on a package.

Similarly, if the customer has given an incomplete or wrong delivery address for the package, it goes into the undeliverable category and becomes an exception.

3. Weather conditions

Every delivery driver or business tries to deliver the goods within the delivery schedule. But bad weather is an obstruction, the intensity of which is unpredictable for anyone. This is one crucial reason that might trigger an exception code for delayed delivery.

4. Delays due to customs

International shipping has its challenges, as customs demand many regulations to pass the shipment to the delivery location.

The customers must provide:

  • A copy of a government-issued photo ID
  • A current utility bill for address proof
  • All the fees and duties involved in the shipment

5. System failure

Your order processing is dependent on the platform you have for your brand. If you have frequently experienced system failures, your customers won’t get real-time information about their orders. Also, you might not respond to the orders in time, which can automatically lead to delivery delays and an awful customer experience.

6. Logistical issues

As a delivery business, you don’t want to experience logistical issues, which can have a ripple effect and disturb your entire supply chain. 

However, because of rising demand and increased orders, your business delivery chain can experience logistical problems. Your team might encounter situations like lost or stolen packages, damaged packages, or missing packages that can hinder the expected delivery date.

12 Tips on How to Avoid Missing a Delivery

While there are multiple ways to avoid delivery delays or missed deliveries, we have provided some of the best tips for handling any missed delivery attempt and managing the delivery process. 

1. Collect accurate delivery information

When customers place orders on your platform, ensure that the system collects accurate delivery information, including the delivery address, contact number, and any specific delivery instructions. Implement validation checks to verify the correctness of the address and contact details, reducing the risk of late deliveries or missed deliveries due to errors.

2. Invest in route optimization software

Route optimization software uses advanced algorithms to calculate the most efficient delivery routes for your drivers. By analyzing various factors like real-time traffic, distance, and delivery time windows, the software helps minimize delays. It ensures drivers follow optimized routes, reducing the chances of missing deliveries.

Achieve Delivery Excellence

Ensure guaranteed successful deliveries and minimize missed opportunities with route optimization software like Upper.

3. Driver tracking and communication

Provide customers with the ETAs to track their package and regular communication updates. When customers can monitor the progress of their delivery and receive notifications about the estimated arrival time, they can plan accordingly to be available to receive the package.

4. Delivery time slot customization

Customize your customers’ delivery time slots by allowing them to do so. By providing clients with various delivery alternatives, businesses may lessen the possibility of missing packages because recipients will be away from home.

5. Automated delivery instructions

Request delivery instructions from clients when they check out. Implement a system that automatically relays these instructions to the delivery staff, ensuring that products are delivered to specified places or left with authorized neighbors under the client’s wishes. 

6. Get proof of delivery attempt

Important or high-value items should call for proof of delivery through e-sign or by taking an image of the fulfillment service. This increases security and lowers the chance of theft by ensuring that items are not left unattended and are delivered immediately to someone at the designated address.

7. Options to reschedule delivery

Give customers the choice to ask for a second delivery attempt or to change the delivery date if they miss the first one. Make the process straightforward to use on your website or through customer service to enable clients to obtain their items even if they were not present for the initial delivery time.

8. Improve customer assistance

Deliver quick responses to questions and complaints about deliveries by offering efficient and effective customer assistance. Customers may track their products, address delivery problems, and, if necessary, receive alternate solutions from a professional support service.

9. Geofencing 

Implement geofencing technologies to notify customers when a delivery driver is nearby. By assisting consumers in getting ready to receive the product, these notifications lessen the likelihood that deliveries may be missed because recipients are caught off guard.

10. Collaboration with pickup points

To provide clients with additional pickup alternatives, collaborate with neighborhood shops or lockers. Customers can conveniently pick up their products from nearby pickup locations if they are away from the delivery address to ensure effective deliveries.

11. Weather and traffic monitoring

Keep an eye on the weather and the traffic flow to spot any potential delivery delays. Maintaining open communication with customers about any anticipated delays and offering substitute delivery options as needed will help you manage their expectations.

12. Regular training for delivery

Conduct regular training sessions for delivery staff to stress the value of on-time deliveries and adherence to customer instructions. Delivery drivers who have received proper training are more likely to guarantee successful deliveries and provide first-rate customer service.

How Can Upper Help You Avoid Missing a Delivery?

Upper is route planning and optimization software that streamlines the delivery process with its advanced set of algorithms and intuitive features.

Here are several ways Upper’s route planning software can help you avoid any missed deliveries. 

1. Efficient route optimization

Upper provides precise turn-by-turn directions and drop-off locations to help determine the optimum delivery path.

To guarantee that your drivers never get stranded on the road and make on-time deliveries, it takes into account traffic, weather, roadblocks, avoidance areas, and many other restrictions.

So, drivers will travel less as a result, cutting down on fuel use and carbon emissions.

2. Send notifications about ETAs

Customers should be notified in advance and kept informed of the progress of their deliveries. This might not sound possible to do manually, but utilizing Upper’s multi-stop route planner makes it simple.

For instance, the Upper has a feature that enables users to check the progress of their deliveries. Additionally, the vehicle routing software has a feature that notifies consumers via SMS whenever their order is on its way to them or is close by.

3. Track drivers to avoid delivery delay

Routing and scheduling are just the beginning of your work. You must make sure the drivers are obeying the rules. They do not become stranded on the road due to unforeseen events like car troubles or traffic accidents.

A commercial GPS tracker included with Route4Me allows you to track company vehicles in real-time with a one-second refresh. It provides real-time Dynamic Route ETAs and Dynamic Route Manifests to make tracking on-road movement simple.

4. Helps reschedule delivery

Orders and cancellations made at the last minute may jeopardize the delivery schedule and result in missing deliveries. Additionally, manually rescheduling orders will take a lot of time.

However, Upper’s re-routing feature enables you to effectively incorporate new orders into the current timetable. That way, you can be confident that none of your deliveries will be impacted. Any changes you make instantly sync with the drivers’ routes to their mobile phones. Drivers, therefore, never miss any updates.

Boost Your Delivery Performance

Start optimizing routes with Upper and reduce missed deliveries, enhancing customer satisfaction and boosting profitability.


When dealing with missed or attempted deliveries, promptly communicate with customers to resolve the issue or offer alternative delivery options. Also, provide solutions like replacements or refunds for transit-related problems. Last but not least, utilize digital route planning tools for fast deliveries, taking advantage of real-time updates on traffic and weather for the best routes.

One common practice is to encourage customers to provide accurate delivery information during checkout. Implement validation checks to verify address accuracy. In cases of missed deliveries due to incorrect addresses, promptly contact the customer for corrections or arrange redelivery after verifying the correct address.

Missed delivery attempts or mishandled deliveries can lead to customer dissatisfaction, negative reviews, and a loss of trust. There may also be additional costs associated with re-delivery and potential refund requests. Not only this, but consistent delivery failures could harm your business reputation.

Yes, you can implement a signature confirmation system for valuable or sensitive items. Requesting a recipient’s signature upon delivery adds an extra layer of security, ensuring the package is handed over only to authorized individuals. This minimizes the risk of theft or any potential disputes.

Missed deliveries can harm your business by costing you money through refunds and discounts. They also damage your brand, making it hard to keep customers and attract new ones. Negative reviews make things worse. So, it’s vital to deliver on time to keep customers happy and your business strong.

Maximize Delivery Success by Avoiding Missing Deliveries

Missed deliveries continue to be a major source of frustration for both consumers and companies. From disappointed recipients to unnecessary operational expenses, the impacts are felt across the entire delivery ecosystem. 

As the eCommerce boom continues, getting this right will separate the delivery leaders from their competitors. Those who can reduce exceptions and maximize successful first-attempt deliveries will thrive by regularly fulfilling client commitments.

Those who are dedicated to continuous improvement and removing obstacles from the delivery process from checkout to doorstep will win in the future. Is your business ready to join them?

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.