APSFulfillment_image_091415One common reason customers send products back is because they were damaged in transit. With high volumes of shipping, some degree of damage is bound to happen at least once, but that doesn’t mean these rates can’t be lowered or avoided. Understanding what can damage shipments, and how they can be remedied, is a basic step in properly running a fulfillment service.

What Causes Shipping Damage and How Can it Be Prevented?

There are numerous ways a product can be damaged in-transit. Some are more obvious than others.

Impact: This falls under “obvious” but there are a few details here that are worth mentioning. A product doesn’t have to be dropped to take impact damage. If there is too much empty space in the package or around the box itself, the product can shift suddenly and be damaged in the event that, say, a delivery truck takes a sharp turn. Packing peanuts can help fill any voids in the packaging, and air bags or other containers can help keep things steady in a spacious cargo van. Ensuring transport vehicles are properly balanced and having properly-maintained suspensions can help as well, since this will cut down on any road vibrations products are exposed to.

Moisture: Water damage can come from unlikely sources. If a package is improperly sealed, moisture can infiltrate from outside and affect sensitive products. Alternatively, shifting temperature and humidity can cause excessive condensation to build up—a hazard on long-distance shipments. The use of high-quality, pressure-sensitive tape can provide an impenetrable seal and the use of desiccants, like silica gel packets, can address condensation.

Handling: Fragile products need to have their packages marked clearly as such and fulfillment workers must respect these indicators. Additionally, it needs to be clear that packages which require special equipment, such as a forklift, are handled appropriately and without corners being cut. Impact, shock, and tilt indicators are relatively cheap devices that can be attached to boxes and indicate if the relevant form of mishandling occurred. This will let you identify where on the supply chain the problem is happening and properly investigate and resolve the issue.

Employee training is an important consideration here. Fulfillment and shipping workers deal with untold numbers of packages large and small each day. Whether out of boredom or a desire for increased speed, it’s not uncommon for workers to start tossing packages to each other or even kicking them out of the way. Some products can take this abuse. Others cannot. Proper employee training is needed to make sure workers understand that convenience can’t come at the cost of damaged goods. Proper monitoring and documentation of supply chain stages is an important quality control measure.
APS Fulfillment, Inc. is a specialist in direct mail marketing and warehouse order fulfillment based in Florida. We’ve safely stored, sorted, and delivered products of all shapes and sizes for all kinds of companies and industries. Take a look at our website and contact us for more tips on how to identify the best fulfillment shipping service.