As a business owner, you work tirelessly to produce products that your customers need and want. So, there is hardly anything more disappointing than learning a customer received their product broken — or they didn’t receive it at all.
Shipping is always a concern within the supply chain, whether you are receiving shipments of materials and inventory or you are shipping products directly to customers. You can increase the safety of your shipments — and improve the satisfaction of your customers — by implementing the following high-tech shipping solutions today.
When it comes to shipping boxes, you get what you pay for. Studies show that cardboard can easily lose strength when stored in less-than-ideal conditions, and there are also several types of cardboard, many of which aren’t rated for use in shipping. While there are ways to make cardboard work, if your shipments are fragile or valuable, it might be smarter to invest in a different type of box altogether.
Wooden or plastic crates tend to be more durable and more protective than cardboard. If your item is relatively small, it isn’t a major expense to pack it first in a sturdy box of wood or plastic and then in a larger box made of cardboard. Double boxing has long been a standard technique for safeguarding delicate shipments, but by using a sturdier interior box, you add an extra layer of protection. Plus, you can use the inside box as a branding tool for your business — something with your business name on it that customers can keep and continue to use in other capacities.
In recent years, traditional shipping filler has come under fire. Despite decades of use, Styrofoam peanuts have fallen out of favor due to their immense environmental impacts. While peanuts remain one of the best ways to fill gaps in packages, their poor reputation has most companies looking elsewhere for their filler — ideally someplace that is eco-friendly, space economical and affordable.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to you today:
Packing paper balled up can effectively fill empty space, cushion produces and provides an attractive presentation. Because paper is both recyclable and biodegradable, it is an excellent choice.
- Paper Shred
Shredded paper is better at fitting into smaller spaces, and it tends to look more ornamental inside packages. But, unlike larger sheets of paper, shredded paper cannot be recycled.
- Corrugated Bubble Wrap
Like packing peanuts, traditional plastic bubble wrap is out of fashion. Paper bubble wrap is essentially shredded corrugated cardboard, best for wrapping products but not ideal for filling voids.
- Recycled Plastic Fill
Bubble wrap and inflated bags made from recycled plastic are workable options, but neither solves the problem of how customers can responsibly dispose of the material.
Of course, you don’t have to eschew traditional, non-environmental filler options. Packing peanuts remain available, as does plastic bubble wrap and inflated plastic bags. While these solutions are arguably higher-tech than the paper and cardboard options listed above, their adverse environmental effects and poor public perception make them less optimal for most businesses.
Boxes and filler aren’t everything; while these components of a shipment can forgive many sins, they won’t protect your packages against gross mishandling. To determine whether your packages are handled with proper care, you can arm them with damage indicators, which will tell you what kind of treatment your packages received during shipment.
There are several types of damage indicators, from stickers you place on the outside of packages to high-tech gadgets that sit inside boxes and take complex measurements like vibration, shock, pressure and temperature. Naturally, lower-tech options provide less information about when, where and how damage occurs, but they can still offer insights into what you need to do to keep your shipments even safer. Some companies include damage indicators in all their shipments, but you might only need to experiment with indicators for a few months to fine-tune your shipment strategy.
Shipping is more crucial than ever, which means you need to develop a high-tech strategy for getting things from here to there safely. By using higher-quality materials, avoiding materials that don’t benefit your brand and utilizing tools to track how shipments are completed, you can avoid much of the stress of making shipments. With a little experimentation in your shipping strategy, you can ship with confidence and complete the supply chain in style.