Selling online has opened commerce transactions to the masses. It is easier than ever for someone in Biloxi, MS, to send a ceramic plate to a collector in Sydney. With the abundance of technology choices available, these transactions are becoming easier and easier, with many people becoming savvy online sellers.
One part of an online transaction that has not changed with time is the actual packing and shipping of products to buyers. We may have shiny new shipping software to rate packages and print labels, but someone has to physically pack and ship the goods in a professional and safe manner.
Being in the shipping insurance business, Shipsurance sees a fair share of interesting decisions when it comes to packing and shipping. Poor packaging, careless labeling and not educating your buyer ahead of time does not exude professionalism on the part of the shipper.
Even if you are insured, a damaged or lost package is not the desired outcome, and leads to an unsatisfied transaction. I wanted to share a few shipping faux pas that we regularly see, and explain better options so you do not fall into this category.
1. Shipping jewelry or collectible coins in a padded envelope
I understand it is cost effective, but there are smarter ways to properly pack these types of commodities. Why is it problematic to use a padded envelope to ship this type of item? Here are a few reasons:Pack the items in a small box and make sure the contents are secured with tape or packaging material so they won’t rattle around
Shipments are run through conveyor belts and sorting machines, and dropped on one another in the mail flow. If a padded envelope catches a snag, it is torn open, leaving the contents to disappear. If a box is dropped on it, the contents can bend or break. We have seen thousands of pieces of “unbreakable” jewelry get damaged in this way.
Anyone with “sticky fingers” can tear or cut a small hole in the envelope allowing the contents to slip out.
In the case of a roll of coins, an envelope does not leave much to the imagination. It is obvious what the envelope contains.
Smaller envelopes can easily be folded up and placed in a jacket pocket, only to walk away.
What is a simple and better way to accomplish this?
Pack the items in a small box and make sure the contents are secured with tape or packaging material so they won’t rattle around.
Place that box in a slightly larger corrugated box and make sure it does not move around. This way, if someone cuts a hole in the outer box, the contents do not come rolling out. It also strengthens the packaging to support long drops from neighboring packages.
Larger packages are tougher to walk away with. Use 6 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches as a good starting point.
Making a change like this will protect your valuables in transit.
2. Giving away the contents on your shipping label or packaging
This may seem rather obvious, but people often overlook it. The return label on your packages should not indicate the contents-for example: Acme Jewelers, Best Video Games, Cell Phone Warehouse, etc. Better alternatives would be Acme Company, BVG and Fulfillment Warehouse.Make sure the packaging does not contain words that indicate the contents, such as Apple, Tiffany, computer or diamond
Make sure the packaging does not contain any keywords such as Apple, Tiffany, computer, diamond or any other words that leave little to the imagination. Pack your items in nondescript boxes or the carrier-provided boxes. Do not use manufacturer packaging. It alludes to the contents, and the packaging is not often designed to be shipped individually.
3. Not ensuring your shipments are signed for at delivery
Sometimes it is easier on buyers if they come home to find their packages waiting for them on the patio, but this opens up a can of worms for sellers. Some of the problems this causes are:
Passers-by can take packages left on doorsteps or in mailboxes. It is often too tempting to leave an undisturbed package alone. Some buyers live in apartments or multitenant housing, where their shipments are stored in a central location with open access to all the people living there.
The elements can ruin many shipments. Packages get left in the rain, in direct access to sprinklers, in the snow, in direct sunlight or in the pool (it has happened).
Most people are honest, but a package that was not physically signed for can open a seller up to possible untruthful (fraudulent) statements of non-receipt by their buyers.
Paying for a signature confirmation from the carriers may not always be cost effective or warranted, but if you are shipping something with value, it can make the entire process smoother and lead to happy customers. Shipping a $400 item without a signature is just not a smart decision.
I hope I have provided a few tips that inspire you to rethink the way you pack and ship merchandise to your customers. Most of these tips, and more, can be found at proshippingtips.com.