Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the TV fans who entered our giveaway contest for a Fire Stick. Today we will answer the following question: “how is time to ship determined?”
You’ve ordered something that you really want online. Naturally, you’re very excited and you want to receive it two days from now. No, make it tomorrow. You know what, why not overnight? Then you take a closer look and see the fine print: “will arrive between the Saturday after next and five years from now.”
As it turns out, there are a number of factors that determine when precisely you will receive your package.
The first is order processing time. In order for you to receive your package in a timely manner, a few things need to occur. First and foremost, your item must be in stock. Then someone must pull it from the correct part of the warehouse and pack the item (or items) for shipping. Then they must either go to the post office or hand off the package to a carrier during a scheduled pick-up.
Delays in order processing can really slow down shipping. For most shoppers, though, packages tend to arrive in a timely manner. You may have noticed that depending on what time of day you order, you may receive an item one day later than you expect. If this is the case, you likely missed the cut-off time set by the company on behalf of the warehouse who is coordinating their effort around when USPS, FedEx, or whoever else arrives to pick up packages.
The second factor is a lot more intuitive. Your distance from the nearest warehouse can have a big impact on how long it takes to receive a package. International shipments take the longest both because of distance and because of customs. Domestic shipments are faster, with the fastest being when the warehouse and the customer are close to one another.
Finally, the last factor in shipping speed is set by carriers such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx. As we’ve covered before, packages do not go straight to their destinations. They go in whatever direction is cheapest and most efficient for the carrier. If the shipper pays a premium, the carrier will take more expensive shortcuts. That’s how you can have overnight shipping for $50 and standard 5-day shipping for $5.
If you’re ordering goods online, remember that an enormous amount of coordination goes into the speedy delivery of your package. If you’re a shipper, proactively reduce delays in order processing to make sure items go out on time. Find a warehouse that’s either close to your customers or close to major transportation hubs. Lastly, if your customers are impatient, look into priority shipping. Sometimes the extra cost to ship is worth it to make your brand look good!