Where's my stuff? Understanding tracking & delivery updates for items in transit

2 mins read

Manufacturers are using 3PL more than ever. But when items are delayed and the computer says “no”, what’s actually going on? Shahzad Akram of World Options explains.

Around 74% of the largest US manufacturing companies now use third-party logistics (3PL) provider services, more than double the rate ten years ago. In the wider sphere, 90% of Fortune 500 companies across various industries now rely on 3PLs for their logistics needs.

But as more manufacturers outsource their shipping requirements, many can feel a disconnect with their valuable items as they travel from A to B. Part of MBE Worldwide, World Options allows manufacturers to book deliveries through the mainstream courier and shipping companies, advising on which is best for each individual package, pallet or crate, and – crucially – providing on-the-phone customer service before, during and after shipping, helping report on all items’ whereabouts in transit.

Here are the most common reasons for delays to international packages in transit and some ways to avoid or minimise them:

Proper Documentation

Customs officials demand accurate paperwork to assess the nature, value, and origin of goods. So any discrepancies or missing information can be a major cause of delays from officials needing to seek clarification.

This can largely be avoided simply by completing all the required forms properly. Making sure all commercial invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin, are accurately filled out, and then keeping accurate, easily accessible digital records in order to respond to any queries can massively reduce the likelihood of delays because of poor paperwork.

Changing Regulation

Increasingly complex international trade regulations are sadly another source of frustration for shipping overseas. Failure to comply with the relevant rules and regulations can result in major delays, so it’s worth staying informed about the latest trade regulations and customs requirements applicable to your individual industry and key markets.

A proactive compliance strategy, which involves engaging with customs experts and technology to provide immediate updates on regulatory changes, can help overcome major delays.


Routine inspections and examinations by customs to verify compliance with regulations and safety and security can further contribute to delays. While its impossible to control random inspection decisions from afar, certain goods are more likely to be selected for inspection than others. Hazardous or controlled items are most likely to come under inspection, so ensuring the correct paperwork and procedures for these is especially important.

The overall risk can be mitigated by ensuring the correct level of detail in documentation and by meeting the proper packaging and labelling requirements.

Expert Help

The best way to ensure success in shipping is to use expert help. In a global economy, expectations from customers and strategic partners are high. Time is often very much of the essence and reputations can be tarnished by poor delivery experiences. It’s never a good look to be unable to provide an answer if deliveries are delayed, even if it’s through matters beyond your control. So, taking the same professional approach to delivering goods as to manufacturing them will always be the best policy to preserve valuable customer relationships.