Understanding the 5 Common Causes of Cargo Delays

Updated on July 18, 2023

Ocean Cargo Shipping

When it comes to ocean freight shipping, being on time is crucial. It impacts your customers, suppliers, and freight marketers. When dealing with a great number of shipments, delays can breed more difficulties such as cost overruns and stock holding costs because they will not renew their supplies until the proper time. There's a possibility that the customer will push you for a deadline, and you will then be held accountable for the delay. The parts might be damaged, faulty, or incorrect in some situations.

Don’t let yourself be stressed out by a delay in your cargo delivery – take a look at our five common reasons why your shipment may be delayed so that you may get back to doing what's most important: running your business.


  1. Not Providing Correct Documents

It is possible for cargo delays to occur throughout the ocean freight shipping process, including the departure from the port of origin, clearance through customs, and arrival at the shipping destination, if proper documentation is lacking.


Here are some common errors to avoid:

Missing or incorrect shipment details: This includes information like quantity, unit weight, dimensions and other key information that is required on all shipments.

Incorrectly labeled packages: Packages must be labeled with their contents as well as any applicable handling instructions.

Missing or incorrect customs documents: Customs forms are required for each country where you will be shipping your product. These forms usually contain information about what is contained in each package, how much it weighs and how much freight costs. They may also include additional information about taxes or duties due upon arrival at its destination.

Missing export license: Your export license is an important part of your supply chain, but it's easy to forget about it if you're not shipping all the time.

With commercial container shipping, an export license for overseas transportation is required. If your export license is missing or expired, the shipment may be denied exit from the country of origin, slowing down your entire supply chain.

Documentation is a hassle, but it’s one area where attention to detail upfront can prevent cargo delays. So make sure to:

  • Check that all your paperwork is in order, updated, and legible
  • Create (and follow!) a checklist before shipping your goods of all the required documents
  • Work with trusted partners to avoid errors


  1. Peak Season

Peak seasons are times during the year when higher-than-usual volumes of freight are shipped.

Peak season for ocean freight shipping typically begins in August and continues until November as businesses prepare for the US holiday season. After a lull in December-early January, Lunar New Year in late January-early February pauses production and exports in some East Asian countries.

In addition to higher volume, peak season is also characterized by volatility in pricing due to increased demand, limited capacity and fewer routes available compared to off-peak periods.

In order to ensure your cargo is moved on time and at the best price possible, it is important to find a carrier that can meet your needs throughout the entire year.

During peak season, the demand for freight is higher than normal. As a result, there may be delays in your shipment because of the extra volume of goods being shipped.

It can be hard to predict when peak season will hit—it's different every year. But it is a classic example of high demand and low supply that puts pressure on the supply chain and logistics network. That's why we recommend you plan ahead if you can!


  1. Inadequate Technology

If your company is still using old and outdated software or antique hardware, you could be missing out on huge opportunities to reduce shipment delays.

An outdated system can limit the ability to integrate new technologies and prevent access to features that can reduce shipment delays.

So what's the solution? Invest in the latest hardware and cloud-based software so you can track your shipments better. This will allow couriers, 3PLs, logistics companies, and transportation businesses to remain connected and use real-time data.

In a connected world where consumers expect instant gratification, late shipments can lead to unhappy customers and damaged reputations.

If you’re looking for ways to make sure you stay one step ahead of your competition, investing in new technology is an excellent way to do this.


  1. Global Events Consumer Behaviour

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the transportation industry has been severely impacted by a lack of equipment and space restrictions on many vessels. This has resulted in a decrease in purchased services and an increase in purchased goods. As such, many carriers are currently extremely busy transporting cargo around the world. Trade lanes from Asia to Europe and from Asia to North-America are severely impacted.

As consumer behaviors have changed, they are shifting towards an increase in purchased goods and a decrease in purchased services. As such, the situation continues to evolve but it is essential to follow the latest developments.


  1. Issues at Customs

You might think that shipping documents are boring and unimportant. But let's not forget the fact that when it comes to the transportation of your cargo, every little detail counts.

Various shipping documents are required when shipping cargo internationally. You might forget to fill out certain documents, fill them out incorrectly, or authorities might inspect your cargo and perform further inspections. Additionally, events such as Brexit could result in changes in Customs Declarations, with new rules and regulations for cargo around the world. Transporting your cargo can be further delayed as a result of all of these factors.

So how can we avoid these issues? One solution would be creating electronic copies of all necessary documents and filling them out online before sending them by email or attaching them as PDF files on a USB stick. Then send them directly to the carrier company or upload them onto their website so they can be scanned right away without any delays!

Another option would be hiring a freight marketplace who will take care of all logistics related tasks for you by providing high quality service at affordable rates!


How can we prevent international shipping delays?

Make a reliable decision

  • Make sure your providers are vetted and reliable
  • Keep an eye on the performance reviews and experience of your providers
  • To avoid surprises later, plan any additional services you will need for your cargo delivery


Arrange all your documents well

  • Review all shipment documents carefully
  • Ensure the correct HS code is assigned to your goods
  • Stay on top of your paperwork by working with your service providers


Plan ahead of peak season.

  • Ship goods as little as possible during peak seasons
  • If you anticipate a spike in demand or promotional campaigns, keep this in mind
  • Ship fast-selling items first

Note: Delays may happen, plan ahead and never overpromise. 

At FreightMango, we believe in managing expectations around space and equipment availability at each port. We also inform you continuously about the current shipping situation via email updates.

Ready to start shipping? Log into our online freight booking platform or sign up for free to see routes and prices.


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