Tips to Reduce Product Damage During Shipping

E-commerce. Centralized manufacturing. Increased customer spending. These three factors put together have led to a massive leap in global shipping and logistic volumes.

Product damage during shipping is a serious business menace. It inflates operations costs, creates irate customers due to delayed deliveries and puts a heavy strain on inventory – not to mention the doubling of shipping costs to replace damaged goods. Also, if you are an e-commerce vendor registered with a multi-vendor e-commerce store like Amazon, eBay, Target, etc., there is a high chance you will be penalized for poor packing and damaged product deliveries.

Obviously, curbing product damage during shipping should be a high priority – but it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. First, you have to determine where damage is likely to occur during the product’s journey to its destination and then determine the best way to eliminate it. To make things easier, we’ve rounded up some of the most common causes of product damage during shipping and identified pro-tips for avoiding such situations.

  • Cause: Poor choice of packing material
  • Pro-tip: Use product-wise, customized packing materials

A 10% CAGR in last mile delivery has forced companies to ramp their shipping and delivery timelines. This has affected the quality of packing negatively as warehouse handling staff are always under pressure to roll out as many packages as possible within a compressed time span.

Most often, they resort to using the same packing material for a diverse range of products. This saves time, but also may result in products not arriving at their final destinations in good condition. For instance, medicines require weather-proof packing that will not let external temperatures affect their quality. Similarly, fragile electronics such as smartphones and digital cameras must be packed with foam, bubble wrap or other cushioning to prevent damage.

Also, if you are using boxes, you should ensure the box has an Edge Crush Test rating that is suitable to its contents. Corrugated cardboards have varying thicknesses and strengths. What is fit for packing a paperback book is not likely suitable for packing a 56-inch flat screen television.

  • Cause: Inadequate labeling leading to mishandling
  • Pro-tip: Use labels like ‘Fragile’, ‘This side up’, ‘Up to 10 stacks only’

Labels instruct handling staff on the exact way to stack, arrange or even lift a package. Labels also identify the nature of the package contents and how it needs to be treated at different places, from the warehouse pallet to the cargo container.

For instance, merchandise like flat screen TVs, washing machines and laptops should not be stacked vertically beyond a certain limit – usually a maximum of 10 or 15 SKUs is considered ideal to prevent damage.

Large and universally understood label texts or signs also help shippers make the right choice of packing and stacking the products in pallets.

  • Cause: Goods are shaken in transit
  • Pro-tip: Use fills like foam or air packs for cushioning

Despite best efforts, goods are bound to be shaken during transit. In fact, it is inevitable if the goods are transported via waterways and cargo ships. That’s why it’s especially important to protect delicate and/or “spillable” items (beverages, oils, medicines, etc.) with customized packaging designed to minimize the potential for damage. Additionally, impact, shock and tilt indicators can be used to monitor whether such products are being handled properly during transit.

  • Cause: Damage caused by water or moisture exposure
  • Pro-tip: Use waterproof sealants on packing

Perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. need safe packing that will extend their shelf life. Although a rarity, when your perishable goods travel from warehouses to customer locations, they do get exposed to natural elements and when it rains or thunderstorms, your package is bound to be wet by the time it reaches its delivery location.

In such circumstances, plastic films are an ideal packing material that every major food retailer in the US uses for protecting their goods in transit. There are also water-resistant and antimicrobial edible wraps that allow retailers to put them out on display without any further ado or repacking.

Bringing It All Together

Product damage is bound to happen during shipping if your choice of packing material is wrong. Along with the external packing, the package labeling and interior void filling also help reduce product damage.

There is a reason why Amazon prefers using large boxes with plenty of air cushions even for small products. It prevents damage during the hustle and jostle in shipping.

To sum it up, money saved on product damage is money made by the business.

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