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Jillian Voege

How Do Packages Get Lost?

by Jillian Voege
USPS glass case containing lost mail

Lost packages don’t happen often, but when they do, they can cause a world of hurt for your brand. Of course the fault doesn’t lie with you, but the customer rarely takes that into account when they’re sending angry emails to your support team about their missing order.

The truth of the matter is that packages very rarely get lost. All three of the major American carriers - FedEx, UPS, and USPS - have been doing package delivery for decades. They have so many failsafes built into their mailstreams that packages virtually never fall out of them with no accountability or trail. They might break, they might get damaged, but very seldom do they get outright lost.

But what does happen with regularity is misplaced packages with bad address information. It happens often enough that there are terms for it - “dead mail” or “orphaned packages.” When a package is sent with a bad delivery address and no forward or return address, the package has nowhere to go.

If you want to protect yourself against package loss, there are two things to consider: address verification and shipping insurance. While many ecommerce companies rely on Google Maps to verify addresses at the checkout level, simply verifying addresses using Google Maps isn’t enough. Google Maps doesn’t verify addresses, it merely approximates them. A customer could put down a bad address number, and Google Maps will only assume that it exists within a certain location. True address verification backed by USPS postal data is the only way to ensure deliverable address data before printing labels and sending out packages.

Shipping insurance is another way to protect against misplaced, damaged, or destroyed packages. This is especially true for high-value items such as technology, limited edition clothing, or antiques. By insuring the package, one can afford to provide a better refund policy that will mollify angry customers. You’re covered against deliverability issues, the customer can get their money back, and the only loss you sustain is the premium you had to pay.

No matter how reliable a carrier is, package delivery can still be affected by outside factors. You don’t want to risk an angry customer making noise about their bad experiences with your brand. It’s always good to add more contingencies to ensure that packages get to where they need to go, and on the occasion that they don’t, you’ll be covered anyway.