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As an online brand, your ability to get orders to customers in a timely fashion hinges on your e-commerce shipping times. In an era when Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping is becoming the norm, this can prove challenging for a lot of smaller retailers. However, it doesn’t mean efficiency and speed are totally unachievable if you don’t have your own fleet of delivery drivers.

In fact, you can still get items to their destination quickly with minimal delays—but that starts with understanding why there’s an issue in the first place.

Here are seven reasons why your e-commerce shipping times are so long and what you can do to improve them.

1. Inventory Problems

The first and most common reason why your e-commerce company might experience long shipping times is inventory problems. After all, you can’t pick, pack, and ship what you don’t have access to.

In some cases, there’s no way to improve this problem, as many retailers found out during the post-COVID supply chain crunch. Other times, it is the merchant who is to blame for issues arising from not ordering enough stock ahead of a big sales push.

The best course of action is to really have your stock and supply chains planned out before adding any products to your website. Either have the items in hand or firmly know that they’re on the way before offering them to your customers.

2. Warehousing Inefficiency

Another cause of long e-commerce shipping times is warehousing inefficiency. For most moderately sized brands, having multiple locations throughout the nation is usually the best and easiest way to help cut down the number of days in transit for a specific order.

While this isn’t possible for a lot of brands, the good news is that working with a good 3PL provider can really help. 3PL companies generally have multiple fulfillment centers across the nation, which makes shipping far more efficient than just sending from a single location.

3. Shipping Delays

Sometimes lengthy eCommerce shipping times aren’t even your brand’s fault, but rather a casualty of delayed shipping times.

This is especially true when there’s adverse weather or a major event that’s keeping the entire shipping industry from making deliveries. For example, strings of tornadoes in a given region or a global pandemic.

In that case, there’s really nothing else you can do but stay in constant contact with your customers. Let them know that their order is on the way, but there’s a bit of a hold up. Often, most will be incredibly understanding simply due to the fact that you let them know what was going on.

4. Basic Errors

Another cause of extended e-commerce shipping times? Basic errors that can otherwise be avoided.

To give you an example, consider issues like misspellings of names, wrong addresses, or even unreadable or unsecured mailing labels. While some of these issues can be the customer’s fault, that isn’t always the case.

Which is why it is important to stress the importance of accuracy to your team when it comes to picking and packing all orders. Just a little bit of care can ensure items arrive quickly and efficiently without additional delays.

5. Lack of Fulfillment Structure

Another big catalyst for long e-commerce shipping times is lack of fulfillment structure. What do we mean by this?

Well, if your online store doesn’t have a protocol for how orders are handled once they are placed, you could see numerous unintentional delays.

Brands need to have an order of operations in place that encompasses what happens from the moment a customer makes a purchase to when the package leaves your facility. Failure to do this can lead to times when your staff is bogged down with other duties or orders simply don’t get out on time.

This is usually something more common with new e-commerce brands, but it can still be a problem with those that are more experienced, too.

6. Increased Returns

If your business is at a place where you’re seeing an increase in returns, you might also have an issue with e-commerce shipping times. Why? When you have an influx of items to process and return to inventory, it can cause a delay of the whole system.

eCommerce return issues generally come in two ways. First, they can be seasonally—such as after the holiday gifting season. They are also common when an item either has a defect or is not accurately described on your website.

Either way, working to cut down on the overall number of returns to your online business can help keep outgoing orders from having fulfillment delays.

7. Surges in Orders

Finally, there are times when surges in orders can cause excess e-commerce shipping delays. As an example, consider the COVID-19 pandemic. According to statistics, online spending increased a whopping 30.1% during the lockdown phase.

When there are more orders than available staff to pick and pack them, this can easily create a nightmare for online retailers.

Think of it this way… if there are more sales flooding in than people to process them, then there’s bound to be a backlog. As a retailer, it is your job to plan for this issue, which is both positive and negative in terms of brand growth.

Prioritize Improving Your E-Commerce Shipping Time

If long e-commerce shipping times are a problem, making improvements to the areas we’ve mentioned should be a top priority.

The good news? A little planning or working with a good 3PL company to outsource your e-commerce shipping can help keep delays to a minimum. Not only is this type of process far more efficient, it can really save your brand on things like warehousing costs, personnel wages, and even ensure you get the best shipping rates.


Which is where Tradefull comes in. While you’re busy working on other aspects of growing your e-commerce business, we’re here to assist with all things relating to warehousing, picking, packing, and shipping your orders. Get in touch for more details.