There’s much more to sustainable deliveries than just electric vehicles. 

Failed deliveries (late, missed, lost or wrong) are one of the key contributors to delivery emissions. 

On average in the UK, approx. 336 million (8%) of online orders aren’t delivered on the first attempt – that’s a lot of redeliveries, wasted miles and emissions, even for electric vehicles (energy and tire wear). 

They also cost retailers over £3.5bn per year and negatively impact brand reputation and customer loyalty. In fact, failed deliveries rank in the top 3 reasons for customers cancelling their subscriptions (HelloFresh UK).

The solution is to be aware of every potential point of failure along the delivery journey. Here are four points of focus from a sustainable delivery service perspective…



Dish out the details

Put as much information as you can into your collection and delivery details so couriers have the best chance of finding these locations. Watch out for any mistakes or autofill errors. 

On average 45% of all UK addresses are approximately 50m from where a satnav will take you. So tools like What3Words are useful if it’s a hard-to-find address, like construction sites with multiple entrances that don’t show up on satnavs. 

In cases like these, we get couriers to mark, tag, or add instructions on our app so that other couriers can find those difficult addresses in the future.

Not going to be in?

Despite people working from home now more than ever, 66% of UK adults miss home deliveries at least once a month. So to avoid the failed delivery slip of doom, when booking a job, enter clear ‘leave safe’ instructions that are easy to find and follow.



Accurate data, and a lot of it

To optimise the entire delivery experience we use hundreds of different data points, from consignment dimensions to a courier’s live location. Sharing key information when booking a job feeds our database and is essential to reducing failed deliveries. 

Maybe the most obvious piece of data is the consignment dimensions to make sure the vehicle booked for the job can accommodate the size and weight of the parcel. 

A client of ours, Screwfix, uses standardised package sizes (small, medium, large etc.) to make it easier to understand vehicle requirements for items ordered. It reduces the chance of a motorbike arriving to collect a fridge-sized parcel (an instant failed delivery).

But more unusual specifics can also make sure that the most suitable courier is assigned to the job. In particular, grocery orders containing meat or alcohol, which some couriers may not be comfortable delivering due to religious beliefs.



Parcels at the ready

Parcels need to be ready for collection when the courier arrives to limit waiting time. Clear tracking and ETA notifications are just as important at the pickup stage as they are for the customer at delivery, to ensure the collection process is smooth running. 

Perfecting pick and pack

And for ship-from-store orders, having staff trained in the pick and pack process is crucial. Warehouse layout (Screwfix uses easy-to-navigate wide aisles), order management tech and well trained staff will help to nail this process. 

Courier-approved tip: Have staff clearly mark each parcel being picked up to avoid mixing up orders (using a Sharpie will do – but labels are available to print from us too).



Tracking + communication = delivery match made in heaven

Once a courier is on their way, accurate ETAs, live tracking and clear notifications let customers know when to be in to successfully receive their parcels, reducing “Sorry you were out” delivery slips.

The ability to re-route or amend in-flight is a great addition so that customers can prevent couriers from travelling to their addresses when they know they won’t be in. However, in-flight changes can be challenging, especially for ultra-fast, on-demand grocery delivery.

Having direct communication with the courier is another useful feature. Speaking directly with your driver via phone (vs. contacting customer support) reduces wasted journeys in case there are any problems or delays. Or it’s a great way to agree ‘leave safe’ instructions so that the parcel can be delivered if a customer isn’t in.



Proof of delivery

Photographic proof of delivery (POD) is always useful too. We’ve just made this standard protocol for Gophr couriers, so all delivered parcels are verified.

Courier training

Clear workflows for conditions like ‘Challenge 25’ and restricted medicine delivery help to tighten the doorstep experience. Working with couriers who understand when it is/isn’t appropriate to ‘leave safe’, and if so, how to follow instructions for successful deliveries, will also minimise failed deliveries.


If you have any questions or would like to chat about how we can help to reduce failed deliveries even further, send us a message at