Home » Why Your First Delivery Attempt matters, and How to Raise First Attempt Rates

Why Your First Delivery Attempt matters, and How to Raise First Attempt Rates


Making your first delivery attempt successfully on time means everything in eCommerce retail. Each redelivery incurs additional costs for your business and longer waits for your customers, who will become dissatisfied if they have to wait for a redelivery. This means that every failed delivery attempt is costing you money and, potentially, future business. 

Making delivery attempts successful the first time is a key to keeping costs down and keeping profit margins up. In this blog, we’ll focus on why first delivery attempts matter so much and what you can do to increase first delivery attempt success rates. 

Keep scrolling to find out: 

  • What a delivery attempt is, and what a failed delivery is
  • What happens when a package can’t be delivered 
  • Why first time delivery success is so important to your business
  • Best practices to increase your first attempt delivery rate

What is a delivery attempt?

A delivery attempt is when a driver from a carrier tries to physically bring a package or parcel to its intended address and recipient. Delivery attempts are categorized as either successful or unsuccessful. The term “attempted delivery” is often used by carriers to signify an unsuccessful attempt to deliver.

Delivery attempts are successful when the driver or service provider is able to hand the package to the addressee, place the package in a secure location or convey the parcel in some other way, such as handing it to a neighbor. However, if a delivery attempt is made but the driver can’t hand the package to a recipient or place it in a secure location, the tracking number will classify the delivery attempt as unsuccessful.

When a delivery attempt fails, most carriers — whether a national carrier like UPS or FedEx, or a regional provider — will try a second delivery attempt and in many cases a third before pursuing an alternative course such as leaving the package at an alternative delivery location (a local store or post office). Some post office locations offer self-service pickup options. Normally, after several failed delivery attempts, the postal service or courier company will have the package returned to sender.

Delivery attempts can be classified by number based on whether the attempt is a first delivery attempt, second delivery attempt, third delivery attempt and so on. The number of redelivery attempts will often be indicated in communication from the company responsible for the package.

What does a failed delivery attempt mean?

A failed delivery attempt means that the driver tried to drop off the package at its designated address and was unable to do so. If a delivery attempt is made and fails, this may occur for a number of reasons:

  • The item came in a package which would not fit in the available mailbox receptacle
  • The delivery details on the package are incorrect
  • There was no secure location to leave packages
  • The package required someone to sign for it, but no one was at home to answer for it
  • Unpaid fees were required to complete delivery
  • Receptacle blocked: the delivery provider was blocked from reaching the mailbox receptacle because of weather conditions, a parked vehicle, local utility work or emergency responders
  • No access: the driver could not access the delivery address because of a situation such as an aggressive dog, a gate to a gated community being locked or a package arriving on a non-delivery day

Different delivery providers may use slightly different verbiage in their communication with customers to indicate why delivery attempts failed.

What is a first attempt delivery?

First attempt delivery, often tracked through the First Attempt Delivery Rate (FADR), is a delivery that has been completed at the first time attempt. The FADR rate is important as it allows for companies to monitor and improve their performance, thereby keeping costs down and customers happy.

What happens if the package can’t be delivered?

What happens when an attempted delivery fails depends on the policy of the shipping company responsible for the delivery. The post office has its own policy, while private logistics companies such as USPS, UPS, and Amazon have their own individual policies:

When the United States Postal Service fails at a delivery attempt, the driver may leave a notice. This normally happens when the delivery attempt fails because of failure to obtain a signature, failure to obtain payment for postage or fees, inability to fit the package in a mail receptacle or inability to leave the parcel in a secure location. Under these circumstances, the driver may leave a notice offering delivery options such as redelivery or picking the package up at the post office. 

Note that not all options are available at all office branches. You can find out what delivery services are available in a given area by doing a search on the Redelivery Service page for the Postal Service. In some locations, the post office provides a self-service parcel locker unit pickup options. However, not all branches include this with their delivery options.

When United Parcel Service tries to deliver items and fails, normally the carrier will follow up with redelivery attempts. Up to three delivery attempts may be made, not including weekends and holidays. If all these efforts fail, the next steps depend on whether or not the items required a Collect on Delivery payment. If no C.O.D. payment is required, UPS will hold the items at the nearest UPS center for up to five business days before they are returned to sender. In some cases, the recipient may be able to select alternative delivery options by selecting another option for the package or packages online. 

If a C.O.D. payment is required, the shipment will be returned to the sender on the same day as the final delivery attempt.

When a delivery attempt is made by Amazon using their own delivery service, if no one is at the address, the driver will try to leave the package in a secure location. If no secure location is available or if a signature is needed, Amazon will email the recipient and try two more redelivery attempts on consecutive days. 

If a third delivery attempt is made and fails, the package will be returned to Amazon and a refund will be issued. An Amazon customer can search using their tracking number to find out about the status of their package.

These policies are typical of how a typical 3PL logistics company or other delivery provider handles a delivery attempt where they are unable to leave the package.

Why is the first delivery attempt critical?

The success or failure of first delivery attempts can have a significant effect on your logistics costs as well as your customer satisfaction levels, impacting your profit margin. There are several reasons why first delivery attempts have such an important role.


Each attempted delivery or redelivery is expensive. Freight rates vary based on the type of truck used, the size of the truck, the distance of the route, the time frame required and the type of shipping services used. On average, national van rates currently cost $2.84 a mile, according to data from truck marketplace provider DAT.com summarized by factoring solution provider TCI Business Capital. 

Every mile you ship costs you money. Each time an order is sent out for delivery after a first delivery attempt costs increasingly more money. So for a second delivery attempt shipping costs double, and they triple for a third delivery attempt. 

Moreover, you’re most likely not charging customers extra shipping costs for these additional redelivery attempts, so every second delivery attempt comes right out of your profit margin. This is why the largest shipping and delivery companies prioritize first attempt delivery rate (FADR) as a critical delivery KPI (key performance indicator). 

The need for delivery exceptions management

The cost of second delivery attempt efforts can be compounded when companies don’t have strong procedures in place for managing delivery exceptions

For example, a severe snow storm may slow shipments for an entire area. When this happens, it requires a reshuffling of resources to schedule redelivery, incurring the costs associated with multiple delivery attempts. 

The more efficiently an exception can be handled, the less extra expense is involved. For example, some courier company providers send automatic notifications to recipients with options to reschedule delivery. Likewise, if a system is in place which can let drivers automatically update information about which packages are still with them, this can increase redelivery efficiency. Unfortunately, when companies don’t have these kinds of exceptions management processes in place, redelivery can be expensive.

When a delivery attempt fails, it lowers customer satisfaction

Consumers today expect on time delivery for their packages – especially if they paid for fast delivery options. One study found that 69% of consumers are less likely to shop with a retailer again if a package they ordered doesn’t arrive within two days of the promised delivery date.

3 strategies to increase first attempt delivery rate

Your FADR rate is the core KPI to measure how well you’re succeeding at getting your delivery attempts right the first time. By the same token, it provides the ruler to evaluate the success of your efforts to improve your delivery attempt performance.

The overall strategy for improving your FADR and achieving your delivery attempt goals can be summed up by three principles:

  1. Integration: coordinating all logistics processes and all information about shipments into a single system geared toward successful first delivery attempt outcomes
  2. Digitization: making all tracking information available in digital form for easy real-time updates and sharing
  3. Automation: applying logistics software technologies such as automatic notifications to optimize the efficiency of your delivery attempts

Applying these principles, you can take a number of steps to increase your first attempt delivery rate and reduce second delivery attempt incidents:

  • Track your first attempt delivery rate so you can benchmark your performance
  • Set FADR goals to improve your performance
  • Use autocomplete and address validation services to confirm that drivers have the correct address and contact information for each customer
  • Let the customer select a delivery time window (i.e. self scheduling), ideally during checkout
  • Give every customer the ability to digitally update their delivery windows in real time 
  • Provide real-time tracking for parcels or packages with updates via text or email, so that people can update their delivery options as parcel shipping status changes
  • Send automated notifications on the day the package is due for delivery to confirm that the original delivery time is still okay and allow the receiver to change delivery options if necessary

In addition to these steps for improving your first attempt delivery rate, you can take steps to increase the efficiency of redelivery efforts. These can include:

  • Implementing a tracking number system such as that used by the postal service which allows the receiver to schedule a redelivery time when the driver should attempt delivery or, alternately, to arrange delivery options such as picking their package up from the post office
  • Provide drivers with a delivery driver app that automatically updates the delivery flow when they still have a package that needs a second delivery attempt, or when packages need to be rerouted to an alternative delivery location. 

Following these procedures can significantly increase your first attempt delivery rate and improve the efficiency of second delivery attempts. 

These procedures provide integrated digitized interfaces for both drivers and customers which provide all necessary last mile tracking for packages, order locations, estimated time of arrival and other essential information. This is how logistics industry leaders such as Amazon have overtaken rival businesses with high first delivery attempt success rates.

Get delivery attempts right the first time to boost your bottom line

As eCommerce fulfillment and delivery volumes increase, delivery providers today are prioritizing efficiency and reducing the cost to deliver. Reducing excessive second and third delivery attempts are one of the easiest ways to improve efficiency and costs, while boosting the delivery experience. 

You can reduce failed delivery attempts by taking steps to integrate, digitize and automate shipping processes. These steps include tracking first attempt delivery rates; providing drivers with automated delivery flows that update delivery instructions in real time; providing customers with real-time visibility and updates into the location of their package at every step; and allowing customers to choose their desired delivery time and location. 

Use these methods to get your delivery attempts right the first time to keep your shipping costs down and your profit margins up.

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