Sales don’t mean much if your shipments don’t arrive in one piece – and as many as one in 10 shipped items sustain damage in transit. Often, it’s not the seller’s fault when merchandise sustains shipping damage, but it’s the seller who gets hit with the cost of replacing the damaged goods.
Shipping damage can really cut into your bottom line if you don’t take steps to mitigate it. Usually, shipping damage is the result of either improper packing or rough handling that can occur at any point in transit. While shipping damage can’t always be avoided, proper packaging and freight handling procedures can go a long way towards minimizing its impact on your profit margin.
Protect Your Shipments
The majority of shipping damage happens in the last mile of transit, right before goods reach the customer’s doorstep. But you should make proper packaging a priority during every stage of the shipping process, from manufacturer to warehouse and then during the final leg of the journey, delivery to the customer.
The way initial freight shipping is handled can have a huge effect on how well your goods stand up to the stresses of shipping. To avoid damage caused by carelessness, use a reputable freight shipping company, one that’s known for handling freight shipments with care. Trucks with an air-ride suspension should be used to ship fragile items, but all freight shipments require sturdy, well-wrapped pallets. Double-box shipments facing wet or humid weather conditions, or items that are likely to be damaged. Use the brick stacking method for heavy boxes and pallets to distribute weight more evenly and protect items on the bottom from the weight of items on the top.
Don’t neglect packaging during the final phase of shipment, either. Ship fragile items, like laptops and other electronics, in packaging designed for the purpose to protect them from damage. Fill empty space on the box with air cushions, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, brown paper, corrugated single-ply cardboard, or other materials designed with shipping in mind. Separate fragile materials with dividers, foam sleeves, bubble wrap, or double-boxing so that they don’t slam together and break one another during shipping. Choose exterior materials that will stand up to the weather.
Know What Stresses Your Shipments Face
You can’t really know what amount or type of packaging material is best for your shipments without knowing what stresses they will face in transit. A shock recorder is a small, affordable, recoverable solution to collect data on impacts, vibrations, and other forms of transit stress, so you can see what stresses your shipments face and take steps to mitigate or eliminate them. Some even use cellular networks to transmit data in real-time and can send notifications to alert you to potentially hazardous conditions.
Digital tools eliminate all of the manual labor that was once involved in collecting shipping impact data, such as recording results on paper. They also provide superior analytic tools to help you understand the impact data you’ve collected means and how to implement it to lower rates of shipping damage. For example, you can pinpoint which shipments are most likely to be damaged, and even use the data to determine the likelihood of a specific shipment sustaining damage under specific impact conditions.
You can use that information to set impact and vibration thresholds that allow the shock recorder to tell you when a shipment has experienced stresses that are likely to have caused damage, so you’ll know what shipments to examine more closely upon arrival. You can even isolate where in the shipping process your shipments are sustaining damage, so you can change freight or delivery handlers or packages, if necessary, to reduce losses due to shipping damage.
You can even narrow down different kinds of impact acceleration and vibration waveform data that typically result in different kinds of damage to your merchandise, allowing you to inspect the parts of a shipment most likely to have sustained the damage and to be prepared for damage to specific components of your merchandise.
With online shopping taking the place of brick-and-mortar retail outlets, it’s becoming more important than ever that freight and merchandise are shipped safely and delivered intact. Use impact- and vibration-resistant shipping packages and collect impact and vibration data from your shipments. With time, impact data can lead to happier customers, less shipping damage, and a healthier bottom line.