Shipping malfunctions: 5 ways to prevent and treat them

4 min read

The holiday season is on. For some people, this means sipping eggnog by the fire while listening to holiday songs and watching the gentle snowfall outside.

However, as you very well know, wholesalers are usually not among these people.

For wholesalers, preparations for the holiday season means fulfilling order after order and dealing with any problems those orders may cause. And while most retailers have already stocked up on merchandise, there are still a few weeks left until Christmas, and anything can happen.

A retailer runs out of stock. A product nobody expected becomes a hit and retailers need much more of it. A shipment goes missing, or another turns out to contain a large amount of faulty products.

The simple act of packages changing location involves so many actors, paperwork, and other variables that it’s no wonder sometimes things can go south.

All of these, and much more can land on wholesalers’ desk with a big red SOS sign stamped on it. And then it’s up to you to fix the problem and save the day as soon as possible.

While it’s impossible to prepare for all disaster scenarios, it’s important to at least anticipate what kind of problems may arise. That way you can have a few solutions up your sleeve and address the issue as soon as it manifests itself.

Shipping is typically one of the bottlenecks where most problems arise. The simple act of packages changing location involves so many actors, paperwork, and other variables that it’s no wonder sometimes things can go south.

As with any other issue, reducing shipping errors is easiest if you prepare yourself for potential problems.

Common shipping issues

Inventory shortages

The process of seamless shipping begins with an optimized inventory. You need to be aware of the state of your current inventory at all times, otherwise you may promise to send a shipment of products that you don’t even have on your shelves.

Automating your inventory will help with keeping track of all products at all times. This way, you can eliminate all shipping issues arising out of incorrect inventory.


Incorrect packaging can lead to broken products and angry customers. To avoid the lengthy returns process, your best bet is packaging each item appropriately.

The correct way of packaging largely depends on the items you’re shipping. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to leave about 2 inches between the side of the product and the box. This allows for a minimal amount of movement inside the box that’s necessary to keep the packaging material from damaging the product.

However, moving around a lot in the box can cause problems as well. Make sure not to leave too much space so the product doesn’t sustain any damages during shipping. If the items are irregularly shaped or fragile, you may need to insert a cushioning material, like air bubbles trapped in plastic, or foam peanuts.

Packaging takes a lot of time and effort. With the increased workload of the holiday season you may want to hire seasonal workers to reduce shipping errors or delays.


The farther the shipment travels, the more likely can delays occur. External circumstances like bad weather, accidents, national holidays, late payments, or even postal strikes can cause a shipment to be delayed.

While none of this is your fault, and you can’t do a single thing to prevent these issues, your customers won’t be happy with delayed shipments. There’s only one thing you can do to avoid external circumstances damaging your reputation: communicate.

As soon as you learn that the shipment is going to be late, inform your customer. Apologize, even though it’s not your fault, and let them know the cause of the delay as well as when delivery is expected. Customers can usually handle late shipments; what they can’t handle is the lack of information.

Many carriers offer shipment tracking. It’s an essential tool if you want to keep track of your packages and inform your customers of any shipping delays. Many carriers let you forward their tracking number directly to your customers, allowing them to trace their order online themselves.

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Problems at customs

If you send or receive international shipments, you know that crossing a border can cause many common shipping issues. Incomplete paperwork, unpaid taxes, unmet health regulations, a national holiday, or a backlog of shipments to be processed are just a few examples of what can go wrong at customs.

While there’s not a lot you can do to prevent these issues, make sure you cover all your bases. Before you send a cross-border shipment, inquire about the receiving country’s procedures and regulations. Fill out all paperwork correctly, and schedule your shipment so that it avoids national holidays.


Even with the most careful packaging and shipping, products may break during transportation. Or, they may have had an error that was impossible to see prior to turning the product on.

Faulty or broken products often result in returned shipments. Devise a strong returns policy and inform your customers about it before you fulfill their order. That way you can prevent a lot of confusion, unnecessary phone calls and random, case-by-case solutions that do more damage than good.


Reducing shipping errors is one of the best ways to cement your reputation as a reliable wholesaler.

But while preventing common shipping issues isn’t always possible, the way you treat the arising problem tells a lot about your business. Make sure you handle each issue with care and attention, and let your customers know how important they are to you.



* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.