To some extent, shipping damage is a part of doing business. But you don’t have to just accept that a certain amount of whatever you send out will be damaged in transit. To the contrary — you can do a lot to protect your shipments, from doing research to using the right packing materials and packing things properly. These five tips can help you make shipping damage a rare occurrence.
1) Know What Forces Your Shipments Face in Transit
The most important thing you can do to prevent shipping damage is research the forces your packages face in transit. The more important it is that your items get there intact, the more diligent you should be in tracking the forces and climatic conditions your shipments face. Packages can sustain damage from the long-term vibrations of truck or train car, or from shocks sustained when a handler drops them or handles them roughly.
That’s why it’s so important to record possible causes of shipping damage using a shock logger. You’ll not only see what kind of vibration stress your packages undergo, you’ll also get to see how often they were dropped or shocked and even how intense the impact was. You can even get loggers that track the temperature extremes shipments endure and provide real-time location tracking.
2) Don’t Skimp on Packing Materials
You should never recycle packing materials — cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and air pillows aren’t designed to be used more than once, so they can’t offer the necessary structural integrity required by a subsequent use. Use new packing materials each time and don’t skimp. Use as many packing peanuts, air pillows, and bubble envelopes as you need to make sure your contents are well cushioned and that their ability to move around inside the packaging is restricted.
If you’re shipping something that generally requires its own specialized type of shipping package, like a laptop, you should make sure you’re using the appropriate materials. Don’t try to improvise padding out of things like old towels or clothes — fabric compresses and doesn’t provide as much protection as you’d think. Instead, use shipping supplies intended for the purpose.
3) Disassemble Items Before Packing
If you’re shipping items that can be disassembled, it’s best to go ahead and take them apart and carefully wrap each component for shipping. This makes it easier to package and safely ship oddly shaped items, too. You can worry less about finding the right shape of box and more about making sure the item is protected from impacts, vibrations, water, and other causes of shipping damage.
4) Wrap Items Individually
If you’re shipping multiple items in the same package, wrap each one individually. Arrange them in the box or crate so they’ll remain still within the package and won’t be rolling around, bumping into one another.
Make sure to choose packing materials that will offer the appropriate amount of cushioning for your items. If you wanted to ship three bottles of wine, you wouldn’t just wrap them in a couple layers of newspaper and call it a day. You’d use wine sleeves for shipping to protect the bottles from breakage. At the very least, you’d wrap them in something that can absorb impacts, like bubble wrap.
5) Pack Right
You should fill up your boxes, crates, containers and trucks as much as possible without overfilling them. If you fill up the available space within a box or container or truck, you’re creating less room for the items within to shift around during transit. Shifting causes shipping damage. It causes items to crash into one another, or into the sides of the container or truck, which can cause damage. To make it easier to fill your box or container, make sure you choose the right size box.
Don’t overfill your boxes or containers, either. That can compromise their structural integrity and make it more, not less, likely that your items will incur shipping damage. Packages might even spill out of an overfilled truck or shipping container, and when packages fall, the items inside could sustain damage.
You can’t always prevent shipping damage. Some percentage of the items you ship will always sustain damage in transit. But you can and should take steps to whittle that percentage down as much as possible. When you take shipping damage seriously for the threat it poses to your bottom line, you’ll be surprised at how much money you can save — and how many more happy customers you’ll have singing your praises and coming back for more of whatever you offer.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!