Over Shipped: What Does It Mean and What to Do

July 8, 2020

Sometimes, life gives you more than you initially bargained for—like an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream on your pie a la mode, a free cup of hot coffee at your favorite truck stop on a cold winter night, or tickets to a country music festival from a client.

Other times, you end up loading, hauling, and unloading extra items due to a shipping oversight. You put in extra time and effort for absolutely no return (aside from dealing with angry warehouse managers and customers).

There’s no easy way around it: When products get over shipped, it can create a time-consuming ordeal that, in some cases, can also be expensive to resolve.

By understanding why items are over shipped, though, you can take active measures to prevent this.

Let’s take a closer look at what over shipped means. That way, your company can take steps to reduce the likelihood you will deal with over shipped goods.

What Do You Mean by Over Shipped?

Over shipping is a relatively common issue in trucking. It occurs when somebody put more items on a truck than specified in the original purchase order. As a result, the customer gets more than they wanted.

For example, a department store may order 15 mattresses for display from a manufacturer. However, a discrepancy during intake or loading may result in 20 mattresses arriving at the customer's location, resulting in an over shipment.

Over shipping is the opposite of under shipping, which happens when not enough products get to the customer at a given time.

Why Does Over Shipping Occur?

Over shipping usually happens because of sheer carelessness or because of a miscommunication between employees involved in the process. Warehouses, after all, are often loud, energetic, and chaotic. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially when people are using paper documents to record and transmit information.

Intake errors are one of the top causes of over shipping. When companies rely on paper systems, it’s that much easier to misplace critical documents or make a mistake. Maybe the person filling the order is unable to read someone’s handwriting, or maybe what's on the paperwork is wrong.

The real question isn’t why over shipping occurs. It’s what to do when over shipping happens—and how to prevent it from becoming a regular occurrence.

The more often over shipping happens, the worse off your business will be. In the best case scenario, you’ll be hauling more goods than you need to, which can cut into your margins. In the worst case scenario, your customers might wonder why you keep making over shipping errors and decide to go with a different vendor instead.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you can do to resolve an over shipping incident or, better yet, prevent it.

How to Handle When Items Are Over Shipped

Usually, the customer has options about what to do when too many items arrive at a destination. The customer may send back the order or keep the surplus items and pay the difference.

Trucking companies tend to have different policies governing over shipping. However, it’s important to always have a policy in place—whatever that policy might be. Eventually, your company will over ship items, and you need to have a plan in place to resolve it.

All team members, including warehouse teams, managers, and drivers, should be trained in how to handle over shipping so that team members can avoid running into unnecessary complications.

Why Over Shipping Is Usually Bad for Business

The real problem with over shipping is that one side usually loses in one way or another.

For example, if the customer chooses to send items back to the warehouse, then the driver and loading crews will wind up doing extra work for nothing. This may include pulling, transporting, and loading heavy items, creating unnecessary risk. For example, imagine someone throws their back out or pulls a muscle lifting items that were never supposed to be shipped in the first place. The company will lose a worker without profiting at all.

On the other hand, the customer may choose to keep the items once they have them. This, unfortunately, could potentially create a shortage in the warehouse and put certain items on backorder.

Another negative outcome can arise if an item is excessively difficult to transport, the driver and warehouse team don't want to go through the hassle or risk of bringing it back, and the customer doesn't have room for the extra inventory. When this happens, the two teams will have to negotiate, which can create further headaches for everyone involved.

Finally, over shipping can be expensive. Don’t forget that we measure shipping weight in gas per mile—so every bit counts when shipping items. A few extra pounds can drive up the weight of a truck considerably. It can also prevent other important items from fitting on board, requiring extra deliveries in some cases.

When Over Shipped Can Be a Good Thing

One of the few positive outcomes that can arise during an over shipment is when items are easy to transport, the customer has room to take on extra inventory, and they agree to a larger purchase. In this case, over shipping could potentially create an upsell.

Sometimes, companies will intentionally over ship items in an effort to try and convince customers to purchase items on site. Companies sometimes do this when extra inventory is sitting around that has to be out by a certain date. It also can happen during slow periods, when companies need to get creative about driving sales.

How Vector Can Help

One of the biggest problems about over shipping is that it creates extra administrative work for drivers and warehouse teams.

When an item is over shipped, the driver and the warehouse manager will have to fill out manual paperwork. This paperwork will then have to be taken back to the warehouse, processed, and filed. For this reason, it can sometimes take days or even weeks to process an over shipment. It can create “administrative debt,” resulting in excessive backend labor while also worsening the customer experience.

In today’s ultracompetitive shipping industry, providers have little margin for error. It’s important to ship orders correctly and to avoid angering customers at any cost.

Of course, accidents will happen from time to time, and over shipping is part of the shipping process. However, companies should at least have mechanisms in place to digitize and streamline over shipping processing.

Vector offers customizable mobile forms that your company can use to streamline over shipping requests and a variety of additional items. In the event of an over shipment, a user can send the form through a user-friendly app. This allows for near instantaneous processing. This way, it's possible to come to a resolution on the spot—instead of having to wait for the transaction to clear.

Embracing Digital Transformation

Add it all up, and this is a much easier and more professional way to handle over shipment. It’s also in line with the digital transformation trend that’s spreading through the trucking industry.

More trucking organizations are using digital transformation to streamline these types of backend processes. As a result, they are saving time and money while improving operational outcomes.

Check out how your company can use Vector to get to the next level.

This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling.

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