Holiday shopping season has arrived, and with it comes consumers’ ever-increasing demand for fast, accurate ecommerce deliveries. Unfortunately, a growing trend of lost packages has accompanied the increase in doorstep delivery. According to a recent report, an estimated 1.7 million packages are lost or stolen every day in the U.S. The same report found a 40% increase in internet searches for “stolen packages” last peak season. 

Of course, not all missing packages are stolen. But whether packages don’t arrive because of address confusion, damage, theft or other issues, the trend has affected 37% of online shoppers, and retailers take the hit. 

From both a revenue and customer service perspective, lost packages can cost retailers significantly if they don’t have a plan to reduce and manage them. Businesses can help solve for this with solutions like real-time delivery tracking and photographic chain of custody. 

How lost packages impact finances and faithfulness 

Consumers have set a high bar when it comes to retailer expectations. A whopping 90% of online shoppers expect fast, free delivery. And while half of those customers say they’ll shop elsewhere if delivery timelines aren’t met, 32% add that if packages don’t arrive at all they’ll reconsider shopping with that brand again, even if it isn’t the brand’s fault.

In an industry where repeat customers generate 300% more revenue than first-time customers, the cost of a failed delivery can be high. And that’s on top of the financial loss. The annual amount lost to package theft is $19.5 billion. As customer service technology firm Gorgias notes, mega-brands like Amazon have upped consumer expectations again by adding “no questions asked” refund policies. This means the cost of replacing (and reshipping) missing packages falls heavily on retailers. 

The cost of lost packages

If 1.7 million missing packages each day cost upward of $19.5 billion a year, that’s an average of more than $31 per package. Granted, many of those packages will be located and deliveries successfully completed — but what about the ones that aren’t? Knowing the high cost of lost customer value, retailers should plan to cover some missing package costs, but they would be wise to put even more attention into preventing missing packages. Here are four ways to get started:

Implement address verification

The first step to ensuring that deliveries find their recipients is to confirm the destination address. A variety of address verification tools are available to integrate with your ecommerce platform, adding an extra layer of confidence when the order hits the road. In addition to catching typos and ensuring the customer’s address matches a valid postal address for delivery, address verification tools can also help prevent loss to fraud. By matching billing addresses with cardholder addresses and double-checking delivery addresses, retailers can confirm that not only is the purchase legitimate, but so is its destination.

Go heavy on order tracking

Consumers are making it known that thorough order visibility is no longer optional. Recent surveys have found that anywhere from two-thirds to a whopping 93% of shoppers want to stay informed throughout the delivery process from the time they place an order to the moment it arrives on their doorstep. Moreover, nearly half of shoppers (47%) won’t order a second time from a brand with poor delivery visibility. 

Roadie’s out-of-the-box tracking features let both senders and recipients track the real-time status of deliveries at any time. 

Photographic chain of custody

Along with order tracking, proof of delivery gives both senders and recipients the final boost of confidence they need to know that orders arrived safely. Amazon began adding this chain-of-custody feature in 2018, and it has since proved to be helpful. Many retailers and logistics firms, including Roadie, have added the feature over the last several years. 

Besides supporting customers’ order-tracking demands, taking a photo of delivered items helps retailers reduce credit card chargebacks and prevent losses due to delivery disputes. At the very least, delivery photos can help support retailers’ assertions of completed delivery. And in cases where a mistake was made, such as a driver delivering to the right house number on the wrong street, both retailers and customers can use the delivery photos to retrace their steps and complete deliveries successfully.

Offer secure delivery options

Doorstep delivery best practices include shielding deliveries from prying eyes as much as possible. Tucking packages behind pillars, furniture or shrubbery (without getting them wet or covered with dirt) is a good start. Drivers should also use porch safes, per the homeowners’ instructions, if provided. 

Offering secure delivery to package lockers is another option, allowing customers to pick up their orders in a convenient location on a schedule that works for them, knowing they’re safe behind a locked door until pickup time. Retailers like Amazon and The Home Depot are already offering this type of service within their own stores and hub footprints. Direct-to-consumer businesses also can partner with a third-party delivery access point service to extend the option to their customers and still use photographic chain of custody to confirm delivery to access points  

Clarify delivery expectations

As consumers have leaned hard into ecommerce, their demands for prompt delivery have grown. Nearly two-thirds of shoppers (62%) expect their online orders to arrive in three days or less. Even with longer delivery times accounted for, a recent report found that the average time between placing an order and receiving it was four days, down more than a day-and-a-half from last year. 

But what happens when customers get a delivery confirmation message and the package is nowhere to be found? Both Amazon and USPS have details on their customer service pages indicating that customers may receive delivery notifications 24 to 48 hours before the package is actually delivered. Regardless of the logistical reasons that might cause this situation, if you anticipate this issue, be upfront with customers when setting delivery expectations and answering FAQs.

Roadie helps increase delivery success

Lost packages can be a logistical and financial headache for retailers, but having the right delivery strategy in place can mitigate the effects on your peak season. Start by adding Roadie’s reliable, crowdsourced delivery solution to your logistics mix, and gain the benefits of detailed order tracking and photographic delivery confirmation. Pair that with clear, frequent customer communication and a willingness to make things right when mistakes happen, and you’ll be on your way to a peak season of delivery success.