Reducing Parcel Damage In 6 Steps

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parcel damage

Consumers’ shopping at traditional retail locations have seen a year on year decrease, as the increase in e-commerce trading rises. With such incremental surges this has seen more damaged parcels making their way to customers.

From a customer perspective, receiving an order with outer packaging damage, can instantly diminish the perception of product value and quality. With online shoppers becoming reliant on effective parcel delivery on the first attempt, retailers have to ensure they select packaging that not only survives the transit journey, but also instantly appeals to the customer visually.

With parcel deliveries in the UK predicted to grow to 1.35 billion deliveries this year, now more than ever it has become even more important to ensure that a delivered product is well protected. For e-retailers this means selecting packaging supplies that not only fulfil the B2C process, but packaging that can be reused for C2B (consumer to business) returns processing without causing inconvenience to the customer.

Following the 6 simple steps below will not only help identify areas of your current packaging process where damage can be reduced, but will also help to avoid common shipping pitfalls.

Step 1

Packing Effectively

With an average of 50 touch points on a delivered parcel, implementing these 3 quick tips will help to protect your goods in transit:

1. Place the item in the centre of a box suitable for its use

2. Use void fill to fill the gaps and protect the contents

3. Use appropriate labelling, such as fragile tape

Using packaging specially designed for its purpose, such as ‘mug boxes’ for mugs and postal friendly bottle packaging for sending wine is the next step to ensure your product is well protected as it travels through the supply chain, providing less space for movement and reducing the need for excess void fill.

Through the use of appropriate labelling such as FRAGILE, THIS WAY UP or DO NOT BEND labels also helps by providing handlers with ongoing instructions on how to manage your parcel effectively as it passes through the assortment of touch points.

Step 2

Use Quality Packaging

With the unboxing experience becoming an essential part of an e-commerce customer journey, quality packaging has proven to be a key part in providing excellent service, and with that a competitive advantage can be maintained; after all, poor service in a competitive environment can be extremely costly.

Through using well-designed packaging, bad experiences are reduced to a minimum. With certain products having parts naturally more vulnerable to damages, clever packaging can be utilized to protect specific areas more carefully. Take for instance books; the edges and corners are often prone to damage, so book packaging has been designed to provide that extra bit of protection where it’s needed most.

Quality packaging is always durable and strong enough to withstand the journey from the packing bench to the customer, and in returns processes, back again.

Step 3

In-House Testing

In-house drop tests this will identify quickly if a parcel is under-protected, however at the same time a balance is needed to ensure the packaging used isn’t uneconomical and creating a parcel which is far larger than the contents. Should the goods survive these tests without a layer of wasteful packaging, then the parcel and product are very likely to survive the transit journey without adding cost and waste.

Step 4

Review Existing Couriers

With delayed and lost parcels being a common problem with online orders, selecting the right courier to partner with is a key decision within business, as they represent you to your customers. By identifying trends in complaints with couriers and taking appropriate action to resolve the issues is vital to ensure issues and poor service reviews are kept to an absolute minimum.

While a vast number of online sellers are relying on third party logistics (3PLs) to complete their supply chain, it is important to build a relationship with your courier through periodic meetings. By sharing your vision with your provider, you can help them to better understand your needs, whilst tailoring specific services to suit your business.

Step 5

Review Packaging Options

A large percentage of consumers admit to receiving a damaged parcel at least once a year, and recongise inappropriate packaging and poor handling as the cause. This can be managed by taking the time out to constantly review the current packaging options being used. Investing in message tapes, transit monitors and trying new packaging innovations for instance are proven methods to minimise parcel damages and stay ahead.

Always avoid the use of cheaper options that sacrifice the strength and weight capacity of a box required to protect your goods. Weak alternatives will often fail to provide full parcel protection, jeopardising the quality of the product which in turn often increases returns and refunds, making a cost-effective switch an expensive decision.

Step 6

Monitor Customer Feedback

Putting systems in place to ensure you review and deal with customer complaints effectively will help to identify any weak points in your order processing, avoiding unnecessary cost in returns and replacements whilst keeping your customers happy! Independent review sites such as Trustpilot are an excellent way of improving your reputation, whilst driving more traffic to your business and building better customer experiences.


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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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