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What Does “Out for Delivery” Mean & How Long It Takes?

Chad Green

The phrase ‘out for delivery’ often appears on shipping status updates, but what exactly does it imply for retail fulfillment? What does out for delivery mean for the delivery process, and what factors can delay a package after it’s out for delivery? How can shippers and recipients ensure a smooth delivery experience?

Table of Contents
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  • What does out for delivery mean?
    • Delivered vs Out for delivery
  • How out for delivery works
  • How long does out for delivery take
    • What Can Delay Delivery After a Package Reaches ‘Out for Delivery’ Status?
    • Driver Couldn’t Access the Destination Address
  • How Can Customs Clearance Delay the Delivery Process?
  • When do packages go ‘out for delivery’?
  • Expected delivery time after ‘out for delivery’ notification
  • Why is my package ‘out for delivery’ but not delivered?
Out for Delivery

This post will address these and other crucial questions related to ‘out for delivery’ in last-mile logistics, including:

  • Role in Last Mile Logistics: Understanding the importance of the ‘out for delivery’ step in the final stage of logistics.
  • Scheduled Delivery Time and Date: Clarifying what ‘out for delivery’ means for the anticipated delivery schedule.
  • Optimizing Delivery Efficiency: Providing tips for shippers to enhance efficiency and reduce costs during the out-for-delivery phase.
  • Recipient’s Role: Offering advice for recipients to assist their shipping companies in ensuring a smooth delivery process.
  • Handling Delays: Steps to take if a package marked as ‘out for delivery’ does not arrive on the expected date.

What does out for delivery mean?

“Out for delivery” is a status update used by postal carriers and private delivery companies to indicate that a shipment has arrived at the local post office, fulfillment center, or another pickup point and is now on a delivery vehicle en route to its final destination. Understanding the distinctions between in transit vs out for delivery and shipped vs out for delivery is important for tracking a package’s progress. “In transit” means the package is moving between shipment points, while “out for delivery” indicates it is in the final stage. Similarly, “shipped” means the package has left the sender’s location, whereas “out for delivery” signifies it is nearing its final destination.

A package labeled ‘out for delivery’ is in the final stage of its journey. In logistics, this is referred to as the last mile delivery or final mile delivery phase.

Delivered vs Out for delivery

Typically, a package reaches the “out for delivery” stage on or near its expected delivery date, usually indicating it will be delivered that same day. However, factors such as the operating hours of the local warehouse or fulfillment center, the driver’s workload, whether a signature is required, and other variables may cause the scheduled delivery date to shift to the next day or another available day. Understanding the difference between delivered vs out for delivery is crucial, as “delivered” means the package has reached its final destination, while “out for delivery” indicates it is still en route and yet to be completed.

At this point along the route, the package will be shown as “out for delivery” according to the tracking data from the retailer or logistics provider. In case anything happens that may affect the expected delivery date, shippers use tracking status updates to keep both the recipient and the delivery agent in the loop.

For example, the delivery driver may leave a note with choices to reschedule the delivery or receive the delivery at the nearest pickup location, such as a post office, locker, or retail store in case of a BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store) option, when there is no one to sign for the delivery.

How out for delivery works

For E-commerce fulfillment providers or retailers using postal services or private shipping companies, the delivery process is divided into three major stages:

  1. Receiving an Order
  2. Processing the Order
  3. Order Fulfillment

When you see a label saying “out for delivery” on your mail, it means that your package is at the last stage of the shipping process. I will begin by breaking down different stages before zooming in on the final mile.

Receiving an Order: This is the first stage when the customer places the order and the retailer or fulfillment provider receives it.

Processing the Order: The stages includes preparation of orders for shipment where they are picked, packed and shipping labels generated.

Order Fulfillment: To actually ship the order to the customer is the last stage. The package is being conveyed to the local delivery center and eventually to the customer’s address. The status “out for delivery” shows that the package is already in the “last mile” phase of its journey before it arrives at its destination.

Understanding these stages helps clarify the role and implications of the “out for delivery” status in the overall delivery process.

1. Receiving an Order

When a customer places an order for a physical product, the seller’s first task is to verify the item’s availability in stock. This verification process may involve checking inventory in a warehouse, contacting a manufacturer or supplier, or coordinating with a third-party logistics provider responsible for direct-to-consumer shipments.

For maximum speed and efficiency, this step is ideally automated using logistics management software. Automation helps companies save on shipping costs and offer more affordable delivery options to customers.

2. Processing an Order

After confirming that the item is available in stock, the seller begins processing the order. This involves verifying essential information such as the buyer’s contact details. During this stage, the tracking information will typically indicate that the order is being processed.

3. Order Fulfillment

Once the order is processed, it moves to the fulfillment stage. This involves packing the item, shipping it via a shipping company, and final delivery by a driver. The order fulfillment process includes several smaller steps, and the tracking information will provide status updates corresponding to these steps.

Order Fulfillment Stages:

  • Shipped: Initially, the tracking information will show the package as “shipped,” meaning it has been picked up by the shipping company and loaded onto a delivery vehicle. The package is now in transit between the shipment point and the final destination.
  • In Transit: After shipping, the item is listed as “in transit.” This status indicates the package is moving from one shipment point to another along its delivery route. Tracking updates may include multiple stops, with arrival and departure scans as the package enters and exits facilities.
  • Out for Delivery: Once the package reaches the local warehouse, fulfillment center, or store nearest to the recipient, it is placed in a bin with items designated for delivery by a specific driver. These items are scanned as “out for delivery” and loaded onto a vehicle for final delivery.

At this point, the package is considered out for delivery. The outcome of this phase depends on various factors influencing the last mile delivery process.

Last Mile Order Fulfillment

Once a package is out for delivery, several scenarios may occur, potentially affecting the original delivery date:

Successful Delivery

The delivery agent or driver unloads the package from the truck and successfully drops it off on the first attempt. The driver scans the package to automatically notify the delivery provider, shipper, and recipient that the item has been delivered and is no longer on the vehicle. Note that sometimes the package might be left with a neighbor or receptionist rather than the designated recipient, which may or may not be accurately reflected in the tracking information.

Missed Scanning

The driver might forget to scan the package, leaving the tracking status as “out for delivery” even though the package has been delivered.

Failed Delivery Attempt

The driver might fail to complete the delivery on the first attempt due to reasons such as adverse weather conditions, restricted access to a commercial residence on a non-business day, or inability to obtain a required signature or collect a fee. Depending on the shipping company’s policy and the specifics of the situation, the driver might automatically attempt a second delivery or leave a note for the recipient, offering options to reschedule the delivery or pick up the package from the nearest pickup location.

For example, if the USPS fails a delivery attempt, the driver usually provides the option to reschedule the delivery or pick up the package from a nearby fulfillment location, with tracking information updated accordingly.

Multiple Delivery Attempts

If no successful delivery is made after a specified number of attempts, the driver typically reloads the item onto the truck or vehicle to return it to the shipping company and ultimately to the sender. The number of attempts and the waiting period before reloading the item varies by shipping company.

Incorrect Truck Loading

Occasionally, a package marked as “out for delivery” might be loaded onto the wrong delivery truck. If this mistake goes unnoticed or is not immediately corrected, the tracking information might continue to show the original estimated time of arrival (ETA), even though the package may arrive the next day or later.

How long does out for delivery take

Typically, yes. When a package is marked as “out for delivery,” it usually means the last mile carrier or delivery provider will arrive with the package that day. The term implies that the package has left the final pickup point and is headed to the recipient, indicating same-day delivery.

However, as mentioned earlier, various events can delay the delivery. In most cases, if a delay occurs, the driver will attempt delivery the next day. In some instances, the delivery agent might try another day, take the package back to the local post office or delivery office, or, after multiple failed attempts, return it to the last facility in the fulfillment chain.

Due to these variables, “out for delivery” is not an absolute guarantee of same-day delivery. Significant delays beyond a day or two indicate issues in supply chain efficiency, visibility, and overall order fulfillment management.

What Can Delay Delivery After a Package Reaches ‘Out for Delivery’ Status?

Several factors can prevent a package from arriving on the delivery truck the same day its status changes to “out for delivery.” For example, a package can be delayed by the delivery provider due to:

  • Proof of Delivery Issues: A delivery service often requires a signature, digital proof of delivery, or a collect-on-delivery fee. If no one is available to provide this, the delivery agent may leave a note, and the package will be returned to the local distribution center or warehouse for a second attempt or for the recipient to pick up;
  • Delivery Exceptions: Events such as bad weather can prevent the delivery provider – whether a 3PL logistics company, postal service, or other fleet – from completing the delivery. In such cases, the delivery vehicle will attempt the delivery on another day.

Driver Couldn’t Access the Destination Address

The carrier or delivery provider might be unable to access the destination address due to factors such as:

  • A business being closed on weekends;
  • A locked gate;
  • A growling dog.

In such cases, the delivery vehicle will make another attempt or leave the package in a safe location.

Miscommunication

  • The package might be marked “out for delivery” but loaded onto the wrong truck, without updating the package status.
  • The delivery management system could send customers the wrong tracking number.
  • The driver might deliver the package but forget to scan it as delivered, or leave it with a neighbor. It could also be delivered to the wrong address.

How Can Customs Clearance Delay the Delivery Process?

When using an international shipping method, packages must go through customs before entering the country. Customs clearance issues, such as paying a clearance fee, can slow down or prevent your package from being marked as “out for delivery.”

The customs clearance process applies to all packages entering a country from abroad to ensure that all items are charged the appropriate duties and taxes and comply with legal restrictions.

During customs clearance, a customs agent inspects the accompanying paperwork, assesses import duties and taxes, and requests a clearance fee to cover these expenses. While paying this fee might not make for cheap delivery, it is necessary for international shipments.

When do packages go ‘out for delivery’?

To track a shipment that’s out for delivery, you need to work with a shipping carrier or third-party logistics provider that offers an online portal or app for status updates.

Unfortunately, many retailers do not adhere to this best practice. A survey of 500 retailers revealed that 61% fail to provide visibility for packages that are out for delivery. This issue is often exacerbated for retailers who collaborate with third-party fleets.

Not only does this lower customer satisfaction, but it also increases delivery costs due to the need for multiple delivery attempts resulting from poor communication with customers during the out-for-delivery phase. Higher delivery charges for the shipper or logistics provider often lead to increased costs for the end customer, making it challenging to offer free or affordable shipping options.

To ensure customer satisfaction and provide cost-effective shipping options, retailers should strive to maintain transparency with recipients at every stage of the shipping process.

How Can Shippers Optimize the Delivery Process in the ‘Out for Delivery’ Phase?

To promote efficient, cost-effective, on-time deliveries and meet customer expectations, retail shippers can follow several best practices:

  • Use Cloud-Based Software: Implement cloud-based delivery and fulfillment software to optimize logistics efficiency and provide customers with real-time status updates.
  • Send Frequent Updates: Regularly send updates and delivery notifications to pre-empt customer service requests and reduce the support burden.
  • Offer Multiple Delivery Options: Provide various delivery options to match customer preferences and availability, increasing first-time delivery success rates.
  • Track Performance and Adjust Procedures: Monitor delivery performance and adjust procedures based on customer feedback.

Following these practices helps maintain efficiency in last-mile deliveries, allowing retailers to keep delivery costs low and offer affordable shipping options to customers.

Expected delivery time after ‘out for delivery’ notification

Package recipients can also take steps to improve delivery efficiency and ensure on-time delivery of their orders, such as:

  • Check Status Updates: Use software provided by shippers to check last-mile status updates.
  • Be Available: Plan to be available to provide any required signatures or pay necessary fees.
  • Arrange for Second Attempts: Proactively make arrangements for second delivery attempts or pick-ups at a nearby location.
  • Allow Extra Time: Allow up to 48 hours after a package’s status changes to “out for delivery” to accommodate exception events.

These guidelines can help package recipients work more smoothly with carriers to promote efficient shipping.

Why is my package ‘out for delivery’ but not delivered?

If a package is listed as “out for delivery” for an extended period, or if it is marked as delivered but does not appear to have been received, here are some steps you can take:

  • Verify Shipping Address: Double-check your order to ensure the shipping address was entered correctly.
  • Check for Failed Delivery Attempts: Look to see if the tracking status indicates a failed delivery attempt.
  • Inspect Regular Mail: Check if the package was delivered with your regular mail or to an alternate pick-up box, as some shippers work with multiple carriers.
  • Look for Nearby Delivery: Check if the package was delivered to a nearby location, such as a neighbor (for residential deliveries) or an office manager (in the case of a B2B delivery).

The Bottom Line

So, what does “out for delivery” mean? It signifies that a package has reached a transit point near the recipient and has been loaded onto a truck heading toward its final delivery destination. Typically, a package marked as “out for delivery” will arrive later that day.

However, delays can occur due to factors such as weather conditions, restricted access, inability to obtain a signature or collect-on-delivery fees, or truck loading errors. When a first delivery attempt fails, carriers often provide recipients with options to reschedule another attempt or pick up the package at a local store, post office, or alternative PUDO (pickup, drop off) point.

Key Takeaways

The last mile is a critical part of the supply chain, bringing together drivers, dispatchers, shippers, and customers to ensure everyone knows what’s happening at each stage of shipping. Making sure there’s visibility, especially when a package is “out for delivery,” should be a key part of your supply chain strategy. You can achieve this with a platform that provides different views for everyone involved, from dashboards for logistics teams to a driver app and delivery messages for customers. Logity Dispatch can help with this by offering comprehensive dispatching services for owner-operators. They ensure efficient and effective management of deliveries, boosting overall performance and profitability. Contact us today to make your shipping process smooth and worry-free.

Chad Green
Chad
Green

Chad has been driving a truck for over 10 years. During this time, traveled to the United States up and down.
Knows everything about trucks and cargo transportation.
Cooperates with logitydispatch.com for two years. During this time, thanks to us, he traveled more than 200,000 miles and transported more than 5,000,000 tons of cargo.
He likes to write articles and maintains his own blog.

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