When it comes to delivering your product to your customer, it is your courier’s responsibility to ensure the shipment reaches its destination safely, on time and with no damage. However, before the shipment lands in the courier’s hands, it is your responsibility as an online retailer to ensure that the shipment is packaged securely enough to make the journey to your customer. In this post, we’re detailing some of the most important packing tips to avoid damaged goods in transit, to avoid customer returns, and to ensure your customers receive the very best experience when purchasing your product and interacting with your business.
1. Choose your packaging carefully
Using insufficient packaging is the number one cause of damage to shipments during transit. If you don’t take the time to carefully consider the type of packaging suited to the type of item you are sending, it may result in goods arriving at your customer’s doorstep damaged.
If you’re sending small, well boxed items, polybags are an affordable option that offer excellent water resistance. That said, they are flimsy and do not offer anything in the way of structural strength, hence the need for the product to be well boxed prior to packaging.
Jiffy bags are another affordable option for smaller items. They offer more protection than polybags due to the internal bubble-wrap cushioning, however, they should still only be used for non-fragile items as their structural strength isn’t much more than that of a polybag.
Double-walled corrugated boxes are, without a doubt, the best option for shipping the majority of items, particularly those that are fragile. They offer rigidity and impact protection. A double-walled box is less likely to collapse, tear or open under the pressure of transit.
Although some consider plastic boxes as a sufficient packaging option, many couriers do advise against it. Due to its brittle nature, even if the contents of your parcel aren’t particularly heavy, if something heavy is placed on top of the plastic box, it could break.
2. Internal cushioning is key
As well as insufficient outer packaging, the failure to add internal protection to your shipment, allowing items to move around inside, is another major culprit of in-transit damage. It is important to consider the many stages of transit that your shipment will go through on its journey to your customer. It will be sorted by machines in an automated network, transported along conveyor belts, and loaded onto vans and trailers for delivery alongside dozens of other items, big and small. With all of this in mind, there is always the chance that your parcel could come into contact with another heavier, larger parcel, or could be knocked against a surface. So, without internal protection, the risk of damage is extremely high.
Once you’ve selected the outer packaging material that best suits the type of item you are sending, it is vitally important to ensure that your parcel contents are held securely inside.
Bubble wrap is a popular option, and rightly so, as it provides total coverage for items that require impact protection, such as glassware and other breakable items. The only downside is that it can get expensive, but may be a worthwhile investment for customer satisfaction.
Although newspaper and brown paper is an inexpensive form of internal packaging, and can offer some level of protection, it can collapse when placed under pressure. These materials should always be used with caution, especially when shipping breakable or heavier goods.
3. Use a fragile sticker
Unless your deliveries are fulfilled by a specialised courier, marking your shipment with a fragile sticker doesn’t mean that your parcel is treated more carefully than others, or sent through a separate network. However, if you are sending fragile or breakable goods, it is worth marking this as so, as it will serve as a reminder to those physically handling the parcel, such as the driver, to take some extra precaution in the handling of the shipment.
4. Out with the old, in with the new
It really goes without saying, but if you happen to be shipping your item in a box that has been used before, be sure to remove all old address labels or barcodes from the box before attaching new ones. The last thing you want is for the parcel to be missorted or even delivered to the wrong customer, causing severe delays for your paying customer.
5. Avoid overpacking
Using a box that is too small for the type of item you are sending is something that should always be avoided, even if you are trying to cut costs. Overpacking your shipment will increase the risk of your box splitting or tearing, thus exposing the contents of the parcel and put them at a greater risk of damage. Although you could save money on purchasing smaller boxes, all things considered, you’ll likely be left substantially out of pocket if the goods arrived damaged and your customer wishes to return for a refund or an exchange.
6. Take extra precautions
To give you that added peace of mind, always be sure to take extra precautions when it comes to packing your items. Always try to keep in mind the journey that your shipment will make before it reaches your customer. If you’re particularly worried about the fragility of your items, a great method of adding extra protection is to double-box it. Package your item inside of a double-walled, corrugated box, before placing it inside another box with a filled gap between the boxes. This extra protection will create a strong enough barrier for any impact.
Written by Stuart Cooke, blog editor at Irish Parcels.