By: Nathan Dube on August 18th, 2020
How To Evaluate Damages To Packaging And Products In Shipping
Shipping protection is perhaps one of the most essential variables to consider when fulfilling orders for your customers. Just think how you feel when you order something, and the packaging is damaged.
As the internet has made our world a digitally connected global village, you can now have customers anywhere on earth (and pretty soon, perhaps Mars as well).
Packages that travel long distances often have journeys that are fraught with problems. Anything from mishandling at warehouses, being dropped on accident by delivery drivers, or moving through geographical areas with extreme heat. The list of potential items that can cause damage to your package can seem nearly endless.
So, when it comes to ensuring an excellent unboxing experience for your clients, you need to make sure that their packages arrive in as close to mint condition as possible as it is imperative to building brand loyalty and repeat business.
To achieve the proper protections against shipping damages, you need to make sure your packaging process aligns with the best standards. First, getting on board with Amazon's guidelines for SIOC and user-friendly packaging is a good start.
Next, use protective packaging materials such as air pillows, cardboard, packaging peanuts, and a whole galaxy of other potential protective packaging material options.
Now you are probably thinking, "man, this is more complicated than I was hoping". That may be true, but it's critical to the success of your business. While the global village is making packaging protection during shipping more complicated, Industrial Packaging has decades of experience in this sector. We are here to help you navigate these issues.
In this article, you'll gain a better understanding of all of the elements that go into preparing your packages with the appropriate protective packaging materials and protocols. This will help your customers be happy with the condition of their packages, which leads to repeat business.
Why Are Products Getting Damaged?
In a world saturated with digital technologies and a smartphone in every hand, it is easier than ever to purchase products online and bypass shopping at brick and mortar locations.
This reality of modern shopping has only been compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic, which has directly caused a massive spike in online shopping.
With so much demand for virtually any type of product you can think of (especially everyday items like food and cleaning supplies), there is an immense pressure on online retailers to get consumers their product and get it to them FAST.
However, as this need for speed has continually arisen, the demand for protective packaging has become a byproduct of these incredible times that we are living in. If too much emphasis is put on speed to market, there can be unwanted repercussions in the form of damaged goods.
Have you ever worked in a shipping warehouse for a trucking company? Well, I have. And let me tell you, some folks simply do not handle packages with care (even if it has a unique tag instructing you to do so).
Warehouse workers are often pushed to the brink, working overtime in extreme weather conditions and incentivized in one way or another to do more, better, and faster. This often can result in the care of package handling decreasing.
When the supply chain is hit with these high demands, it is not always easy to ensure packages are appropriately packed on pallets for shipping. This is especially true for items that are fragile, breakable, or must be put on a pallet facing a particular direction.
Now, assuming your package makes it on, and off the multiple different trucks and vans it must be transferred to, there is still danger ahead. Between the many hubs, your package will go through before arriving, and there are various opportunities for the item to be packed wrong, dropped, kicked, crushed, or be exposed to other such detrimental actions.
Regardless of your carrier's best intentions, accidents or intentional damages like this will arise from time to time. Being aware of this and holding your third party carriers accountable when it is their fault is a critical practice to keep in mind when dealing with shipping damages.
How to Evaluate Damages
When trying to understand the damage of your packages when they get to your customer, you will want to consider these common mistakes to identify where your damages are coming from.
Excessive Empty Space
If the container you are utilizing is considerably larger than the item being packaged, it is very likely your product will be bounced around and damaged due to the lack of padding inside of the package.
Beyond the problems of products bouncing all around the package, this will also cost you more to ship and is wasteful.
Dimensional weight is the metric used by shipping companies to calculate your shipping costs. Regardless of whether your package is lightweight or not, if the container or box used for packaging is too big, you will get charged more for the larger parcel. Freight companies have to do this because it takes up a larger amount of space in their delivery vehicle.
Lack Of Protective Packaging
All packages are not created equal. While some packages will not require some form of protective packaging (such as foam peanuts or air pillows), making sure that you have enough padding to prevent damages is always a good idea.
Boxes are not the only option that you have when implementing protective packaging. For example, if you send out mailers, you may want to consider switching to bubble-wrap mailers as they provide better protective packaging than just plain envelopes.
Bad Handling Practices
As your package moves throughout the supply chain, it may be handled by dozens of different people. Despite the presence of a "handle with care" or "fragile" label, your box may end up getting man-handled at some point intentionally or by accident.
Poor package handing often leads to unwanted damage to your product. This can be a significant turn off to consumers. However, you can buy insurance to combat bad package handling.
Damage Caused By Humidity Or Water
Exposure to extreme weather conditions, such as intense heat or extreme cold, can cause unwanted damages to your products. Although you can't control it, if a consumer's parcel is left untended outside of their home, rain can compromise the product's packaging and potentially damage the product itself.
Dramatic changes in temperature and condensation could cause humidity inside of your package. In this case, mold, corrosion, and other unwanted byproducts may occur.
To combat this, you should consider using desiccant packs with packages that will be moving through extreme temperature changes over their journey to the customer. These packs are similar to the little preservative packs you find in bags of beef jerky.
Package Theft Is On The Rise
Package theft is not technically a form of damage, but it still results in a loss for your business and your clients. Based on your situation, your company will likely be held accountable for the missing parcel.
To decrease instances of package theft, you will want to tell your customers about the services provided by organizations such as UPS, who can provide you with customized pickup times and delivery options.
When you ship packages of products, pest infestation can be a significant problem. When too many rodents or insects invade an area where your packages rest, damage is likely to occur. Problems associated with the infestation of pests such as rats or bugs happen most often during oversea shipments.
Sturdy and robust packaging supplies help keep unwanted critters and bugs from getting inside of your containers and harming or destroying the products inside. Consider using thicker cardboard boxes with internal compartments fortified with extra cardboard and wrapping on the product.
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How Many Damages Do You Get In A Week?
An important metric to track when trying to minimize damages to your packaging, and, more importantly, your products, is the amount of damages you are experiencing per week. That is, the total number of damaged packages are you producing on a weekly basis.
Tracking this information and analyzing the data will help you to figure out what actions can be taken to help put a stop to unwanted damages on your packages.
Make it a point to lower your damages per week on a steady basis and consider making it a permanent metric tracked as part of your key performance indicators. By keeping an eye on your damages week over week, you will be able to reduce them over time.
Where Do These Damages Occur?
Next, you are going to want to find out where your damages are happening. Is it on your own supply chain? In your warehouse? During shipping? At a carrier’s warehouse? In a delivery vehicle?
Finding where your packages are getting damaged most often allows you to monitor and rectify these issues before they happen. When the damages are arising primarily at a third party's location, you will want to work with them to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
If most damages are happening on your packaging line, supply chain, warehouse, or location, you will want to implement key performance indicators. These KPIs should focus on reducing damage in each section until there is little to no damage occurring any longer.
What Is The Original Sell?
The original sell refers to how much you would have made on the product if it went directly to the customer and had not been damaged.
Calculating this metric is important because it gives you the opportunity to see how much money you are losing with each damaged package on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis.
Being accountable to this data will help you and your team to implement the proper protocols to reduce instances of damage to your products. It's important to know this to hold both your organization and vendors accountable for the damage caused.
Seeing hard numbers will motivate your management team and all the employees in your company's shipping department to focus on reducing damages. Consistently tracking this data will ensure that your damage numbers remain below your target.
What Was The Original Cost To Produce?
You will want to take a look at the cost of production for your products to help you understand the value of keeping them safe. If you do not already know exactly what you are spending per product packaged, it would be wise to take a look at this easily overlooked number.
While it may look like a small number on paper, every single one of those damaged items adds up quickly. By keeping your production costs in mind, you will be effectively more prone to better protect your products as you have a real understanding of the value of every single item being packaged.
What Is Your Cost To Dispose Of Or Rework Damages?
Every damaged package is a package you have to either dispose of or completely rework from the start to ensure that it is properly packaged and ready to once again attempt its journey into the arms of the consumer.
Do you know how much every instance of rework or disposal costs your business? Do you consider these items, "soft costs?" If so, you may want to take a look at these items from another perspective, one that allows you to see how costly damages can be to your business.
If you would like some assistance in setting up the proper protocols, equipment, and materials to help you minimize damages, please consider reaching out to one of our packaging experts. They will help you analyze your packaging line and find areas where improvements can be made.
Paying close attention to these metrics will help you reduce damages and be mindful of the true impact that damaged packages can bring to your profitability.
How To Reduce Or Negate Damages
If you would like some assistance in setting up the proper protocols, equipment, and materials to help you minimize damages, please consider reaching out to one of our packaging experts. They will be able to help you analyze your packaging line and find areas where improvements can be made.
They will also help you put into the practice important actions which will result in a reduction in damages. Industrial Packaging has been working on damage reduction throughout the supply chain for decades. We will be able to help you keep your products safe while saving you money.
It is our mission to protect people, products, and brands through proper packaging and to help you choose the right packaging vendor even if that is not ultimately us.
About Nathan Dube
As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.