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Eight Ways to Prevent Damaged eCommerce Packages

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One in five eCommerce returns happens because of products damaged in shipping. This not only hurts your bottom line. It can do damage to the trust your customers place in your brand. Cutting down the number of items damaged in transit is imperative for both your business's finances and your reputation. To keep the things you ship safer, put these rules into practice:

1. Package items in the right box.

Boxes that are too large mean too much chance of items shifting in transit. The boxes that you use should only be slightly larger than the items inside. Make sure there is enough room for padding, but not much more. Having an assortment of box sizes takes more room in your shipping area, but will pay off in reduced numbers of returns.

2. Fill up empty spaces and pad items well.

Wrap each item in cushioning material while packing. This can even be an opportunity for additional branding. For instance, items can be wrapped in tissue paper with your logo on it before being cushioned further with peanuts, foam wrap, or sealed-air padding.

3. Track possible damage with shock and impact indicators.

You can use inexpensive RFID tracking devices to show when a package has been subject to excessive impact. The tags can be set to the appropriate threshold for shock or impact and then affixed to your package. Then, every time that RFID tag is scanned by a reader, its current condition will be entered into your management system.

This saves a great deal of time because it will tell you which items need to be inspected for potential damage. It will also let you know where the damage occurred, so you can address any issues that are leading to excess levels of damage to your goods.

4. Test your shipping packages.

Not sure whether your packaging is up to snuff? Ship a test package to see how it performs. You may want to try shipping with different carriers or different packaging to see which is the most reliable. You will also get good information about shipping speed and the relative costs of one shipper over another.

5. Separate fragile materials.

If the items you ship have components that are especially fragile, give that additional protection when packaging. This way, you can be sure that every part gets to your customer in the shape that you are looking for. Individual boxes or corrugated partitions can give you the protection you need.

6. Properly label your packages.

Boxes with fragile items inside should have stickers attached that indicates that. Putting two stickers on each box -- one on the top and one on the side -- can help ensure that people handling your packages are aware of what is inside. Additionally, if your box should not be put on its side or upside down, use a "This Side Up" label. This can help avoid items shifting inside during shipment.

7. Examine storage areas frequently.

Infestations of rodents or insects can lead to damage to a wide range of options. Food products, of course, are especially attractive to pests. However, padding material, electronics, and plastics can also draw damaging pests.

In many cases, pest damage happens overseas, before your vendor gets products to you. Examine all incoming packages to ensure that unwanted guests have not hitched along during shipping. Once your products are in your warehouse, make sure that they are in sturdy and protective packaging.

8. Consider moisture-proof packaging.

If you are shipping liquids, these should always be segregated in moisture-proof packing. This can keep those items from damaging other items in your shipment if they break or leak during transit. However, if you frequently ship to areas with high amounts of rain or snow, consider making outer packaging more resistant to water. This way, you have better protection against items that are damaged by water after they leave your warehouse.

Summing Up

There is no way to protect against every instance of damage to your products. Accidents still happen. However, taking the steps above can dramatically reduce the frequency with which damage occurs. By spotting where damage is likely and taking steps to avoid it, you can cut the number of damaged products you ship out and keep your customers happy.

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