How to Avoid Damaged Products: Safe Shipping Tips
Most of us have experienced the thrill of finally getting that package we’ve been anxiously awaiting… only to open it up and discover that the prized possession inside has been damaged in transit. It happens more often than you might think!
In 2018, the three leading U.S. couriers (USPS, UPS, and FedEx) delivered approximately 13.5 billion packages. Of those, 11% were damaged or misdelivered. That’s nearly one and a half million lost or damaged goods—and that’s just not acceptable.
Why You Should Care about Product Damage
Some eCommerce companies may look at product damage this way: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. They may feel there’s just nothing they can do about it. However, many change their mind when they consider the true costs of consistently delivering damaged products to their customers, which include:
- Managing product returns
- Replacing or repairing the product
- Offering a discount on the next order
- Spending labor on additional customer service, including filing insurance and freight claims
- Handling the inspection and repair (or disposal) of returned items
- Suffering damage to the brand's reputation
- Losing customers and referrals
Mitigating product damage is extremely important for reducing costs, and this can be done simply by packaging goods properly!
10 Packing Tips for Shipping Goods Safely
Want to ensure your shipment gets from point A to point B in one piece? Here are ten tips for avoiding product damage.
1. Use a New Box
Using an old box is a great way to save money—and the environment. However, reused boxes have been known to lose around 60% of their strength, and even the slightest bit of damage can compromise their integrity. So, if you’re shipping something of value or something fragile, don’t risk using damaged packaging—a new box is the way to go.
2. Choose a Sturdy Box
Your best bet for protection is a box with double walls (or more). You can tell if a box has multiple walls because you’ll see holes or tubes between multiple sheets of cardboard; these are called “flutes.” The more rows of flutes a box has, the thicker and stronger it is.
Check out our blog, Six Types of Custom Packaging for Your Business for more on different types of boxes that are available.
3. Use Original Packing Materials
When shipping certain items, for example, electronics, try to keep them in their original packaging. This packaging was created specifically for these products so they provide superior protection.
4. Disassemble Items Before Packing
Have an awkwardly-shaped item that can easily be disassembled and reassembled? Take it apart and individually wrap the components to protect them from damage during transit rather than trying to wrap and package the item as a whole unit.
5. Wrap Items Individually
When shipping multiple items within one box, especially if they’re fragile, you should wrap each item in bubble wrap or foam padding with at least an inch of thickness around each item. This will help prevent them from hitting each other with enough force to cause damage.
6. Cushion Items from Interior Walls
Generally, you don’t want your items to touch the inner walls of the package. Again, use padding to protect the items and fill in the gaps. Since this doesn’t require wrapping, you may choose to use other types of packing materials such as styrofoam peanuts, kraft paper, inflated air bags, etc. This also creates extra padding to protect your products when heavier items are placed on top of the box in transit.
Pro Tip: Give your box a good shake after packing it. Unless you’ve packed LEGO bricks, you shouldn’t hear much movement. If you do, add more cushioning.
7. Do Not Overpack
By the same token, don’t overpack your box. Your items need to fit comfortably in the box with cushioning. Overpacking can push items to the inner walls, making them more susceptible to damage while also compromising the box.
8. Prevent Moisture Damage
Concerned about water damage? Wrap your item in a plastic bag. For goods that could be damaged by humidity in a container, such as food, pharmaceuticals, or clothing, be sure to include a moisture-absorbing product, like silica gel packets (also known as desiccants; you can even make your own!).
9. Use Strong Shipping Tape
It’s tempting to use scotch tape, duct tape, or any other kind of tape you have laying around the house. Don’t do it! These tapes are typically not strong enough or can interfere with the carriers’ scanning equipment.
If all you need is a basic closure for your box, clear shipping tape should suffice; otherwise, go for a heavy-duty brown tape that is strong enough to cover seams and hold flaps down. Strapping tape, which has thin lines of twine inside of it, is an excellent choice when banding the same size boxes together.
Pro Tip: Use the “H-tape” method when sealing your box. This requires a strip of tape over the seams on both sides of the box and down the middle. Make sure the flaps meet and no gaps exist between themselves.
10. Don’t Use a Paper Overwrap
Once upon a time, people would wrap a manufacturer’s box in brown paper, write an address on it, and take it to the post office. While that’s certainly whimsical in this day and age, today nearly all shipping stores use thermal labels for postage and shipping.
If the wrap happens to rip off, say on a conveyor belt, no one will know the package's point of origin or destination, and it will generally be abandoned. That’s why, regardless of whether you use a paper overwrap, you should still always place a duplicate copy of the shipping label inside the package.
Safe Shipping with The Fulfillment Lab
At The Fulfillment Lab, we pride ourselves on our ongoing record of safe package arrivals. We know you have a lot riding on every shipment—not just the product itself, but your very name and reputation as well.
That’s why the packing professionals in our fulfillment centers take the utmost care when packing your goods, and we have many different styles and sizes of boxes, along with a variety of packing materials to ensure their safety. Of course, accidents do happen, whether it’s a fall from a courier’s conveyor belt or a driver improperly handling the package. But don’t worry, we’ll also take care of the return and replacement process, and deal with the shipping provider.
Want to learn more about The Fulfillment Lab? Contact one of our packaging pros today!