For many people, shipping is often the most nerve-wracking part of buying and selling online. This is especially true for sellers, as shipping creates a period of the unknown before action can be taken. A lot can go wrong in shipping, which is why every business must understand how to ensure your products stay secure during shipping.
Learning to pack well and look out for obstacles that can occur during shipping is a fine sense entrepreneurs hone over time. Primarily, it comes down to defensively packing parcels to give items the best chance possible, as well as using the tools offered by shipping service providers.
Ensuring your products stay secure during shipping starts with the container they’re shipped in. Most parcels are either a large shipping envelope or some type of cardboard box. The former is ideal for items that are not fragile and don’t call for a more catered opening experience. Other types of envelopes and packets can be found made from many materials appropriate for different kinds of items. As a bonus, parcels usually come stock with a small-sized bubble lining.
The latter come in many sizes, so it’s important to choose a box that isn’t too big nor cramped once packed. Especially tight fits can be lethal to fragile items as there’s a better chance anything up against the wall of the box might strike another surface on the other side. Corrugated material does soften impacts quite a bit, but it’s always best to add a cushioned space.
Boxes also can be arranged so the experience of opening an item feels more like getting a gift when it finally arrives. Besides our amazing selection of garment-ready elastics, Sheships is also a corrugated box supplier. We carry a wide selection of box sizes and types, in addition to your general shipping needs like tape, packing materials, and more.
The average casual seller most likely uses crumpled-up newsprint packing paper for almost every job. While this is an effective and affordable solution, it’s not ideal for every item. The best way to apply packing paper is to crumple it up and form a protective but flexible bed. The idea is that the item is suspended at the center, away from the sides of the box. The same logic applies for packing peanuts, though arguably, the most effective means is to use an air pillow or large-size bubble wrap.
For delicate items with irregular shapes, it can be very difficult to center the item. Packing paper can be thickly crumpled around these exposed areas and reinforced with tape. Be sure not to wrap or tape too tightly, lest the customer struggles to free the item! Small size bubble wrap is also ideal for defending delicate sections and can be braced further with cuts of cardboard.
While we all hope for strictly nice weather, rain and other inclement conditions happen. It’s fairly rare for an item to become water damaged, but it can happen. Even if the goods you’re shipping aren’t water-soluble, it’s still a good show of professionalism to go the extra mile. No one wants to open a soggy package and have to dry off their order before they can use it.
The best way to fight water damage is to use waterproof materials. For small items that aren’t too fragile, a padded plastic envelope is ideal. There’s only one point of entry that needs to be taped shut to protect the contents. For cardboard boxes and paper envelopes, tape the edges—especially on parcels, as the edges tend to be seams that are weak points vulnerable to weather. For extra delicate items, consider adding a sealed bag or a layer of cerein or pallet wrap.
Although it may seem like a minor detail, properly labeling your package does make a difference. If your item is delicate, don’t hesitate to draw attention to this fact for even a moment. Mark up the package with any alerts that may be relevant. Generally speaking, most post offices have a clear and easy-to-read ‘fragile’ stamp. In most cases, the staff will ask if you would like this stamp applied. Always feel free to ask for this free service.
If your preferred postal service doesn’t have this stamp or any other warnings and instructions, head to the nearest stationery store. Many boxes come made stock with labeling such as ‘fragile’ or ‘this side up’, which are essential markers, especially when shipping edible items that are very fragile or may become ruined if allowed to sit tipped the wrong way. Finally, stationery stores carry a wide selection of office and shipping-appropriate stamps and labels.
Post offices and shipping services do much more than move items to and from. Depending on the exact service used, extra features are often included. For instance, priority shipping with USPS usually includes insurance and tracking, which are two key services important for small businesses to know about and take advantage of. Whoever your preferred shipping service is, be sure to ask about shipping and tracking services.
The purpose of insurance is just what you’d expect. For a nominal fee of a few dollars, your postage service will fully refund the insured value. It’s fairly rare that an item is lost in transit or is destroyed, but there’s no reason to rely on luck protecting your items. With insurance, you can breathe easy knowing that your business won’t have to take a loss, no matter what happens.
Tracking too is very beneficial as it helps ease the mind of customers and is a tool to assist in communication. Should you encounter a nervous or impatient customer, tracking is indisputable proof that transactions are going smoothly. It’s also a great way for you or your customers to realize an item has been lost. Goods typically will freeze at one location and won’t move, making it very easy to report a loss and receive proper compensation before sending out a new parcel to your customer.