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Common Reasons for Transit Delays

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By CustomCat - June 29, 2021- in Go-Getter Blog

Transit delays are an unfortunate, yet inevitable part of the world of ecommerce. These delays can occur whether you’re purchasing from a major online retailer or a small shop. 

There are many reasons a parcel can take longer in transit than expected. We’ve outlined some common categories of issues you may identify in your tracking details & the potential reasons you may see those abnormalities. In the vast majority of cases, these orders are only delayed by a few business days & will still be delivered to their noted address. 


Delayed Initial Scan

Picked Up but No Scan Has Occurred – When shipping companies are experiencing particularly high volume, they will occasionally delay or avoid certain scans throughout their network. In these cases, you may see no tracking updates for the first several days after shipment, then a flurry of data entered retroactively indicating where the package has been. Though you will generally see updates within the first 24 hours, we always recommend waiting at least 2 business days for tracking to commence.

International Shipments can sometimes take up to a week to receive their first scan due to the distance the parcel travels between pickup & its arrival at the appropriate international shipping hub. Please allow up to 5 business days for the parcel to arrive at its international shipping hub.

Not Yet Picked Up – Shipments are occasionally subject to delayed pickups. This is most common if the package completed the shipping process at CustomCat on the weekend or holiday. In these cases, please allow up to 2 business days for tracking to commence.


Delays Between Scans Along Route

Shipping Network Backups – As your package travels throughout the shipping network, it may pass through a sorting center or post office that is experiencing an abnormally high volume of packages. Delays do not mean your package is lost — your order will generally continue moving as the facility in question works through their volume of packages. Backups at post offices often result in delayed final delivery.

Weather-Related Delays – From winter storms to hurricanes, weather can have a significant impact on the efficiency of shipping networks. Even if your package is not traveling through an area experiencing an adverse event, when major weather events occur, packages are often rerouted to alternative sorting facilities, which increases congestion throughout the shipping network.

Volume-Related Delays – Major holidays are known for stressing shipping networks. The convenience of online shopping results in a significant increase in package volume all over the world every year. As a result of this, delays are common across the shipping network. A package that is usually delivered in 5 days may take 10 days to make its journey during the holidays. Don’t worry if you see a package that is moving slowly throughout the network — it is not lost, even if it seems to be wandering.


Route Doesn’t Make Sense

Weather-Related Delays – Weather can have a significant impact on the routes courier companies use for packages moving through their networks. For instance, if there is a major winter storm in the Northeast region of the United States, sorting facilities in this area may be overloaded with a backlog of packages that can’t move further in the network. This means any of your packages that would have been sorted in this area may now be rerouted to less busy facilities, even if those facilities are further from the final destination. This can also be true of small local weather-related issues, such as a heat wave causing power outages & a package being rerouted to a facility further from the destination than it was at previously. Unless explicitly indicated within your tracking details, abnormal routes are not a cause for concern — your package will still be delivered to its destination, even if it is delayed.

Volume-Related Delays – Major holidays are known for stressing shipping networks. The convenience of online shopping results in a significant increase in package volume all over the world every year. During these peak seasons, shippers may route packages away from facilities that are experiencing a backlog. This is no cause for concern, even if your package appears to be moving further from its destination. If the destination address is correct, your customer can expect receive their package, even if the route seems illogical.    

Routing Error – Occasionally, an error in the freight companies routing can cause a package to be shipped to the wrong sorting hub in a different region. Though this will cause a delay, it is no cause for concern. These shipping companies are able to identify & correct routing issues without any intervention. As long as the destination address is correct, your package will be rerouted to the correct location & make it to its final destination. 


Delivery Attempted

Failed Delivery Attempt – When a package is being delivered to an apartment or office building, delivery services are often required to verify delivery by taking the name of the individual who received the package. If an office building is closed or a Front Desk is unoccupied, the delivery person may mark the delivery attempt as failed.

In these cases, the courier will either reattempt delivery on the next business day or hold the package for pickup at a nearby post office or service location. Tracking details will generally indicate whether any additional steps need to be taken by the recipient. 



Damaged in Transit – In rare cases, a parcel or shipping label may be damaged in transit & result in the packaging being marked “undeliverable.” This may be because the shipping label information is no longer legible or because the package itself is damaged to a degree that makes it unserviceable. Under these circumstances, a package may be returned to sender or simply discarded by the freight company.

Invalid or Incomplete Address – In the event that an address was entered incorrectly during order submission, a package may be considered undeliverable & returned to sender. When this occurs, we are unable to reroute or reship the package on your behalf. A new order will need to be placed with the correct address. Our address verification software will generally identify invalid addresses to help avoid this issue, but utilizing USPS’s Address Verification tool or third party sites like SmartyStreets is recommended.

Undeliverable Location – Even if an address is valid & you can see it on GoogleMaps, that doesn’t mean it’s always a location serviced by the courier responsible for package delivery. For instance, only USPS can deliver to PO Boxes — if a package is being delivered by UPS, the package will not be able to be delivered to a PO Box. Additionally, customers living in remote locations or surrounded by difficult terrain may be subject to delivery restrictions. Your customer should be able to confirm whether they receive regular mail from the courier in question. We are unable to reroute or reship the package on your behalf if the original order is shipped to an undeliverable location. A new order will need to be placed with the correct address.


Marked as Delivered but Not Received

Delivered but Out of Sight – When a courier delivers a package, they’re often required to find a secure location for the package so it makes it safely into your customer’s hands. Please instruct your customer to check their mailboxes, with neighbors, in bushes, behind patio furniture, & inside side storm doors to be sure the package wasn’t delivered to an out-of-sight location. Additionally, they should ask other members of the household whether the package was accepted on their behalf. If possible, your customer should also ask the postal carrier or check with their local post office regarding their item’s delivery.

Not Delivered Yet – Occasionally, couriers may indicate that a package has been delivered before it has. When this occurs, the package is generally delivered the following business day. Please instruct your customer to wait 24 hours before assuming the package was stolen.


At CustomCat, we will always do whatever we can to ensure your customer receives the products they ordered in a timely manner. While most packages are delivered on time & without issue, it’s important to be informed about out-of-the-ordinary situations that may occur so you can identify issues & respond to your customer’s inquiries confidently.

If you’re experiencing a shipping-related issue that is not listed above or you have waited the recommended amount of time based on the issue you’re experiencing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Merchant Support team via in-app request or by email at [email protected].

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