No matter how carefully you package your shipments, shipping damage is going to happen. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to prevent shipping damage. After all, customers are disappointed when the goods they’ve bought arrive damaged, and they could even become too disgruntled to buy from you again. Shipping damage can also be a significant source of inventory loss because you lose not only the damaged item but also the new item sent to replace it.
You need to take care to pack your shipments so they can withstand the pressures of shipping, which can include getting dropped, crushed, and tossed around. Make sure your items are shipped in appropriately sized boxes. Use brand-new packing materials for each shipment. Include hot or cold packs and insulation to keep perishable items fresh. Add plenty of padding around fragile items and make sure you waterproof your packages to protect them from the weather.
Table of Contents
Size Your Boxes and Crates Carefully
When you’re packing something fragile that needs padding, you need the right size box. A box that’s too big will not only cost more to ship, but will provide more room for the contents to slide around and potentially incur damage – even if you’ve used bubble wrap, packing peanuts, styrofoam panels, and another padding. A box that’s too small won’t allow you room to insert the padding that will keep your fragile shipment safe.
Ideally, you want a box or crate that leaves about two inches between your contents and the walls of the box. This should provide enough room for adequate padding with styrofoam, packing peanuts, or bubble wrap, while being small enough to keep the package contents from moving around.
Use New Packing Materials
It might be tempting to recycle old boxes, air cushions, and sheets of bubble wrap saved from previous shipments, but it’s not a good idea if you want to keep your shipments safe. Cardboard boxes lose a lot of their structural integrity during the shipping process, which means that a box that has already been used once will no longer be strong enough to stand up to shocks and impacts. New packing materials retain all of their structural integrity and will be better suited to keeping your package contents in good shape.
Keep Perishable Items Hot or Cold as Needed
If you’re shipping perishable items or live plants or animals, you’re going to need to pack them with the appropriate hot or cold packs to keep them fresh. Live plants and cuttings will need to be shipped with hydrogel to keep them moist. Baked goods, fresh products, dairy, meat, and other perishables will need to be shipped with gel packs to be kept cool or dry ice to be kept frozen. Some live plants, like succulents, and some live animals may need to be shipped with hot packs to protect them from freezing, at least at certain times of the year. Insulate package contents that need to stay cool with styrofoam panels, thermal bubble wrap, or thermal box liners.
Protect Fragile Items with Padding
Fragile items will definitely need plenty of padding for successful shipping. You can use impact sensors to test just how much padding is necessary; impact sensors can also give recipients an idea of the impact forces their packages have been subjected to in transit.
Wrap delicate items up in bubble wrap and then fill in the gaps inside the box with packing peanuts. Make sure all sides of the item are covered in a layer of bubble wrap and use bubble wrap or packing paper to fill any holes or hollows in the item. Bottles and glasses should be wrapped in single-layer corrugated cardboard to keep them from smacking together sharply. Don’t use too many layers of bubble wrap or too much tape – you don’t want your customer to have to struggle to open the packaging. They might end up breaking the fragile item themselves.
Waterproof Your Packages
Water damage from the weather is a huge threat to packages. Plenty of things can sustain water damage, and even if your package contents aren’t prone to water damage, the cardboard box you’ve packed them in might be. You can protect your package contents from weather conditions by wrapping the contents in a waterproof plastic bag or tossing the whole box into a waterproof bag before shipping it.
When it comes to keeping shipments safe, the packaging you use can make a huge difference. Pack your fragile and perishable shipments right, so you can avoid losses due to shipping damage and continue to offer the level of service your customers have come to expect.