Statistics on package theft are all over the place. One survey says 15% of Americans have had at least one package stolen from them in the last year. Another one put that figure as high as 79%. Many other surveys place the figure somewhere between those two extremes.
If we go with the conservative 15% figure, we would still have 49 million victims of package theft. 49 million might be the population of a small village in India but in America, that’s a higher number than the entire population of California, twice the population of Texas, and more people than the whole of Canada will ever have.
Package theft is such a serious problem that the thieves have a cool new name to distinguish them from other thieves: porch pirates. There are less cool new penalties too, with states like Texas proposing 10-year jail terms.
Most anti-porch piracy tactics are customer-centric: schedule deliveries for when you’re home, buy an auto-locking delivery box, Install cameras, have the package delivered to a pickup-up station blah blah blah.
You’re on the hook for stolen packages— mostly
While a few people will go through the hassle of deterring and thwarting porch pirates with various tactics, there are many more that they will just never bother. Why should Johnny buy a 500-dollar auto-locking delivery box so his packages don’t get stolen when it costs nothing to demand a refund or get a replacement? Why should Johnny drive to a pick-up station for his package when he can have it dropped off outside his door? Why should Johnny delay the delivery of his package until Saturday when he will be home when he can have it tomorrow?
You get the problem, don’t you? A stolen package is an annoyance for your customers but as long as they can get replacement items, many won’t bother with sophisticated anti theft measures. That’s your problem. It’s you who is shipping two products and only getting paid for one. It’s you who will foot the bill eventually. The thief gets a free product, the customer gets made whole, and you… You’re on your own.
Here are a few things you can do:
1. Schedule deliveries and provide a “deliver when home” option
Customers want fast shipping. But they would also rather avoid the hassle of filing a complaint for a stolen package and then waiting for a replacement. In your shipping selector, include an option urging customers to schedule deliveries on weekends or on whichever days they’ll be home.
Many stores don’t provide this option. A customer who wants to avoid porch pirates has to be consciously thinking of this and doing the math in his head when he selects his shipping option, something most people obviously don’t do.
Provide a “custom/preferred delivery date” option and have a calendar dropdown. Mentioning that the customer should select a date on which they’ll be home to receive the product in person doesn’t hurt. It’s a simple tweak that will save your customers a lot of frustration and you a lot of money.
2. Provide package tracking and delivery confirmation
This is a simple way to know where every package is at all times. Many delivery services have package tracking as a standard feature. If you don’t provide it to your customers, you should. Make sure delivery drivers send delivery confirmations too by taking a picture of the package on the porch.
3. Check your shipping provider’s policies for reimbursement opportunities
UPS, for example, requires its drivers to position dropped off packages in such a way that they can’t be seen from the street. Due to negligence, such a measure might be overlooked and in such a case, you could have your delivery service fork out the cost of replacing the stolen item instead of digging into your own pocket.
4. Require a signature
This is a very simple option, especially for high-value products. The likes of UPS and FedEx would never deliver anything if everything had to be hand-delivered but it’s the simplest way to ensure the package is never stolen. While requiring signatures would eliminate package theft overnight, it’s also costly and time-consuming at scale so it only makes sense for really expensive items. If you aren’t requiring signatures for your high-dollar products, you should.