How Long Does Apple Take to Process and Deliver an Order – Complete Guide

If you’re looking to get the new, cutting-edge iPhone 13, iPad Air 5 or iPhone SE 3 as soon as it’s available, or you’d rather have a pristine, completely new iPhone or MacBook than a secondhand device, then ordering directly from Apple is your best bet. Lots of factors can affect the time it takes your device to arrive and your overall ordering experience, like the kind of device you’re ordering, the date and time that you place the order, and the popularity of the product you’re ordering. Read on to find out all the ins and outs of ordering from Apple.

Apple typically takes about 45 minutes to process your order after you place it. If the product you ordered is in stock, you can expect it to ship the same day or the following business day. If you’re ordering a custom-made product or an out-of-stock item, shipping should take two to four weeks.

Below, we’ll cover all the circumstances that can happen when ordering an Apple product online. Maybe you have a time-sensitive need for an Apple device and you want to find out when it will arrive, you weren’t satisfied with a product you ordered and want to return it, or you need to change your payment method after you’ve already placed an order. If one of these situations describes you, or if you have any questions at all about ordering from Apple, you’ll find the answer here.

How Long Does Apple Take to Process and Deliver an Order?

After you place your order on the Apple website, you’ll receive an email confirming the contents and price of the order with shipping cost included, as well as an estimated arrival time. At the same time, the 45-minute processing period when the warehouse prepares your order begins. Once your order is ready to ship, the arrival time will be the same as or sooner than the one listed in the email, typically one to two business days if your item is in stock.

During the 45-minute window, or the period of time where the order status page of your Apple account reads “processing,” you still have a chance to edit a few things about your order. At this stage, your order is still being packaged and prepared, so there’s some wiggle room to change things like the kind of gift wrap on the item, any engraving you may have requested, personal messages, or even the shipping address. If you order a customized device, Apple has to manufacture it for you, so your order status page will say “processing” for far longer than 45 minutes.

Your order may arrive either at the date shown in the confirmation email or before. Apple’s delivery service will sometimes be able to deliver orders faster than expected, and Apple often gives an estimated arrival time that leaves some room for minor delays. While Apple has shown consistently strong customer service, occasional shipping delays are inevitably caused by local traffic, order backups, and shortages of high-demand items, and the covid-19 pandemic and supply chain kinks have increased the likelihood of these problems. Should this happen, you’ll receive an email or phone notice from Apple about the delay with a new estimated arrival date.

What’s the Status of My Order?

You can track the delivery status of an item by logging into your Apple account, navigating to the order listing page, and clicking on an item. You’ll see a progress bar next to the order showing all the stages explained below, and a green meter indicating what stage it has reached. Here are all the possible messages that can be displayed next to an order:

  • Order Placed—Apple has received your order and payment information and your order is about to be processed. This stage can last longer due to high order quantity or payment method hiccups.
  • Processing—Your order is being procured by the warehouse, packaged, and given any finishing touches you may have requested. If you made a custom order, your order status will read “processing” while it’s being assembled at the factory, and this stage can take anywhere from a couple of extra days to two extra weeks. Don’t worry if your order seems “stuck” in the processing stage—it’s probably just being assembled, packaged, or otherwise prepared. You can still make any last-minute changes while in the processing stage.
  • Preparing to Ship—The order is done processing but hasn’t left the warehouse yet. This is part of a routine procedure, and it should take about three days. If it takes longer than that, this may be due to a shipping backlog. During this stage, you can still cancel the order without having to ship it back and return it yourself, but you can’t customize or modify it.
  • Shipped—The item is being shipped. You can access tracking information 24 hours after this message is first displayed.
  • Delivered—The order has reached the shipping address you supplied.
  • Check in Today—If you requested an item to be delivered for pickup at the Apple Store, this message will display if your order is set to arrive today.
  • Ready for Pickup—Your pickup item has arrived at the Apple Store. You’ll need an order number and a valid government ID to pick it up.
  • Picked Up—You’ve picked up your item from the Apple store.
  • Electronically Delivered—You’ve received the software or activation key you ordered from the Apple website.
  • Completed—Your software has been completely processed and received.
  • Action Required—Apple has received your order but has stopped processing it because of a problem like an invalid payment method or an invalid shipping address. Once this problem has been dealt with, Apple will resume processing your order and give you an updated delivery date.

How Long Will My Order Take to Arrive?

The length of time it takes from placing the order online to it arriving on your doorstep depends on a few factors. If every item in your order is in stock and doesn’t have any parts that need to be assembled, your order will likely arrive between one and three business days after ordering. Otherwise, time is needed to put your order together, and the Apple website will give you an estimate of how long it takes to ship your item, with items that require extra preparation typically taking seven to ten business days.

An Apple order will typically spend only three days in the warehouse waiting to ship, unless it’s an express order. There are three different shipping options to choose from: the ground service option typically takes two to seven business days, the two-day express offers a two-business day guaranteed delivery with a 4:30 pm cutoff to start the delivery period, and overnight express which guarantees overnight arrival with a 3:00 pm cutoff. Again, Apple orders will sometimes arrive before the estimated time, but almost never after.

Why Does Apple Take So Long to Ship?

The most likely reason that an Apple order would take an excessively long time to ship is that it’s a popular item, like a MacBook, that’s currently out of stock and needs to be assembled in China before it’s shipped. Again, custom orders are likely to take more time to process as well. If you have easy access to an Apple store, you can always save some time by choosing to pick up your device from the physical storefront, since you’ll be skipping the shipping time. 

The covid-19 pandemic and the supply chain issues associated with it have been causing severe shipping delays across the board, and Apple has suffered these effects like every other online retailer. General shipping disruptions due to covid-19 have been going on for the past two years, but they’ve recently started to affect Apple in particular. Apple manufactures its products in China, and recent spikes in coronavirus cases there may be responsible for current manufacturing and shipping delays for Apple products.

Is it Worth it to Order Directly from Apple?

The answer to this question depends on your needs and desires, but the short answer is that it makes more sense financially to buy from a secondhand retailer. There are already tons of refurbished iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks from previous generations in circulation, and you may even be able to get a good deal on a newer generation of devices if you’re willing to wait a while after its introduction to the market. If you’re just looking for a device that does everything you need it to do and isn’t the newest, coolest, or flashiest thing out there, you don’t really need to order directly from Apple.

One reason you would want to go to Apple directly for one of their devices is to get a custom-made product, like a MacBook outfitted with a one-terabyte SSD. Ordering from Apple also gives you the option of using their AppleCare+ tech support and damage protection service, which is basically a warranty that covers two incidents of accidental damage per year and includes guided tech support. It’s also worthwhile if you simply want a product that you know is top-notch, will last a long time, and will have some resale value even after significant use.

If you care deeply about the latest, hottest, fastest Apple products like the M1 iPad Pro, the only way to get them as early as possible is to pre-order them from Apple itself.

How Can I Get a Refund from Apple?

If it turns out that you’re unsatisfied with an Apple product, you can get a refund for it, credited to the same payment method you used to buy it. However, only a fully functioning, undamaged product can be returned. The return must include the receipt and packaging, and it needs to happen within 14 days of the purchase in order to be accepted.

Additionally, an item can only be returned for a refund in the same region or country it was purchased in. A digital copy of a piece of software must not be downloaded in order to be eligible for a fully refunded return, and a physical copy must have an unbroken seal or packaging. You can request a refund on the Apple website from any device.

Can I Choose What Time Apple Delivers to Me?

Apple has a scheduled delivery feature that allows you to choose what time of day an item arrives. You can choose between three delivery windows—9:00am to 12:00pm, 12:00pm to 5:00pm, or 5:00pm to 9:00pm—all of which are free to select. This feature is not available during the unveiling of new products.

Does Apple Deliver on Weekends?

Apple does not process orders on the weekend.

I Need to Make a Last-Minute Apple Purchase. Do I Have Any Options?

If you’re in this situation and you live in a big city, it might be your lucky day. Apple offers two-hour delivery from its stores in some major metro areas for roughly nine dollars. This option excludes custom orders with additions like engravings, but two-hour delivery might still be a handy convenience or a last-minute time saver.

Can Apple Customer Support Help with Issues Related to Shipping an Order?

If you have a working internet connection, it’s possible to get in touch with the Apple support team. Whether it’s through the Apple website, the Apple support app, or even the Apple Twitter account, you should be able to start a conversation with someone who’s knowledgeable about the whole ordering, processing, and shipping process. If you have any concerns or problems, you can call the Apple support number or have a direct message conversation with an expert.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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