There’s a rising customer expectation beyond the buy button, one that determines your eCommerce business’s ultimate success or failure, and it’s not just how fast you ship (although that’s still hugely important).
An order arriving in 2-days or fewer is only good enough if it arrives in one piece.
That means securely packing your eCommerce orders with the correct materials, dunnage, and practices is critical.
The importance of product packaging
Secure eCommerce packaging is what helps your fulfillment providers get your items safely from point A to point B. You should be using packaging, dunnage, and other materials to:
- Protecting against damage
- Protecting against theft
Why is this important?
1. The rise in product damage and theft
eCommerce package damage and theft are widespread. The average package is dropped 17 times before delivery, and if you read our recent blog on reducing delivery fraud and theft, you know one in five shoppers is a victim. Secure packaging materials and dunnage lessen this momentous risk of orders being damaged or stolen.
2. Protecting your reputation
A damaged or stolen order results in a damaged reputation. It falls so far below a customer’s expectation that the likelihood of them recommending your store or buying from you again is slim – even if you rectify the situation. Securely packing your eCommerce orders ensures you meet customer expectations the first time, and that your eCommerce business is worthy of a five-star review and repeat visit.
3. Sustaining convenience
Secure eCommerce packaging helps sustain the convenience and viability of fast shipping speeds, ensuring customers don’t have to wait longer for you to ship a replacement product. This is especially important if you advertise 2-day and next-day deliveries.
4. Protecting your profit
When your orders arrive on time and in full, you don’t waste money on replacement products, duplicate shipping, or compensatory vouchers. And, when you know how to pack your eCommerce orders securely, you can accurately estimate and reduce shipping carrier costs, taking into account the cost of all packing materials and time.
Top tips for securely packing your eCommerce orders
We know speed and cost are crucial considerations for your fulfillment operation, so we’ve narrowed down the top tips for securely packing your eCommerce orders in the quickest and most cost-effective way possible:
1. Choose the right packaging
Match the outer packaging to the order contents, considering:
- Product weight
- Product size
- Product breakability
What you’re looking for is the most cost-effective packaging that offers adequate protection against damage.
For example, common pairings are:
- Corrugated boxes for heavy or oddly shaped items
- Mailing bags for clothing
- Padded mailers for books and DVDs
- Custom packaging for bulky items, such as furniture
2. Use dunnage to protect and cushion the contents
Dunnage is the protective material that fills the gaps between a product and the outer packaging, offering protection through cushioning, air circulation, moisture absorption, shock absorption, and anti-tampering.
The most common dunnage for eCommerce orders are…
Packing peanuts surround the product to cushion impact and are often used for products already in their own packaging, such as sealed electronics or boxed glassware.
Packing and shredded paper
Packing and shredded paper cushion multiple products in one package and aid moisture absorption and air circulation. Packing and shredded paper dunnage are best for products that require minimal protection, such as clothing, paper, and books.
Bubble wrap isn’t just addictive to pop – it’s also a flexible form of dunnage that protects fragile items against bumps and drops during the delivery journey. Bubblewrap is commonly used for fragile items like glassware, and items that can cause damage themselves, like sharp objects.
Packing foam is lightweight dunnage that offers protection and shock absorption for breakable products, such as small electronics, china, and glass. Packing foam can be customized to fit your products perfectly.
Air pillows are plastic bags filled with air that cushion against external and internal impact. Air pillows are also used to help certain items keep their shape during transit, such as riding boots.
As with outer packaging, balance the cost, weight, and protective properties of dunnage to ensure you have adequate protection at the best price.
3. Don’t over or under-fill packages
Overfilling and under-filling packages might save on shipping and packaging costs, but both are dangerous practices for sending eCommerce orders.
Overfilled packages can cause external damage because the contents are simply too heavy for the box or bag, causing it to break and expose the contents to external dangers. Overfilled packages also allow little room for dunnage, meaning you can’t adequately protect the contents.
Under-filled packages can cause internal damage from products crashing against one another since there’s nothing to stop them from sliding about inside. You can explore finding smaller boxes to remedy this (while dunnage can solve this problem, it’s an expensive solution to a relatively simple problem).
If you don’t have space or budget to stock multiple package sizes, consider using foldable boxes you cut to the size of the contents, or use a third-party fulfillment partner that holds a variety of packaging options to suit your products and orders.
4. Use appropriate packing tape
Packing tape prevents your eCommerce packaging from falling open or being tampered with during the delivery process.
There are four different types of packing tape to choose from – all suiting different packaging types and budgets.
Plastic packing tape
Plastic packing tape (also known as polypropylene packing tape) is strong, durable, and cost-effective but is easily opened and removed. It’s great for low-cost packages.
Vinyl packing tape
Vinyl packing tape is thicker and stronger than plastic tape but still relatively easy to open. It’s a little more expensive than regular plastic tape, making it better suited for long-term storage.
Reinforced packing tape
Reinforced packing tape contains fiberglass fibers for extra strength and durability. It’s hugely resistant against ripping and tearing (making it difficult for customers or thieves to open without scissors) but is slightly more expensive than plastic tape. It’s ideal for heavy and expensive items.
Gummed paper packing tape
Gummed paper packing tape is made from kraft paper and a natural adhesive that is water-activated – allowing you to keep packages open until you need to seal them. Water-activated tape forms a solid bond that’s difficult to tamper with – it’s also more environmentally friendly. However, gummed tape requires a special dispenser to gum down and it also biodegrades over time – making it unsuitable for long term use.
5. Avoid branded boxes
Besides the fact that branded boxes increase fulfillment costs while reducing shipping speeds, branded boxes are incredibly attractive to porch pirates. Use plain outer packaging to ship eCommerce orders securely, and keep branding inside the box and on your website.
6. Use the right shipping label
When using shipping carrier labels, ensure you print in ink that doesn’t smear, on paper that is moisture-resistant and securely attached to the package. If you’re using a trackable mailing service, make sure the trackable barcode is visible too.
It’s also prudent to include a packing slip inside your package, containing details of the order along with the customer delivery address and return address. That way, if your shipping label becomes damaged and unreadable, your shipping carrier can still deliver or return the order.
7. Use a trackable mailing service
Ok, while this isn’t strictly packing related, it’s still important. A trackable mailing service allows you to confirm receipt of a package by your customer. Should the package go missing, your shipping carrier can trace its last location and properly investigate what has happened.
8. Choose the right shipping carrier or fulfillment service
Finally, it’s crucial to choose a shipping carrier or eCommerce fulfillment service as passionate about securely delivering your orders as you are. Look for a partner with a focus on efficiency, speed, and security.
It’s tempting to rush orders out of the warehouse door, but a rushed parcel risks damage and theft.
Take time to securely pack your eCommerce orders, using the right packaging, dunnage, tape, trackable mailing service, and shipping carrier or fulfillment service, and avoid the nightmare of damaged or stolen packages.