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In the world of goods transportation and logistics, shipping damage is both commonplace and concerning. Damaged packages are commonplace enough for most logistics companies to prioritise packaging and safe delivery. It is equally concerning as it often leads to returns, monetary losses, and loss of customer loyalty. Not surprisingly, return to origin or RTO is one of the greater concerns of logistics sector and affiliated businesses. Many products are returned to the source because of damages that happen during transit. Let us understand how product are damaged during transit and how to prevent shipping damages, causes of shipping damages and preventive measures.
What is shipping damage and its impact?
As the term suggests, shipping damage is damage done to products while they are in transit. Shipping damage is one of the primary reasons why products sold via e-Commerce platform or any other are returned. Also, it has adverse effects on business in many ways.
Here are some of the ways how damages caused to goods during shipping affects the business:
- Hampered customer experience: While same or next day delivery can improve customer experience, damaged products or damaged packaging can be hamper it. No customer likes to receive their order in a damaged condition. Unhappy customers are less likely to place a repeat order. Ensuring that customers receive their goods in the proper condition is the simplest way to improve customer service with logistics.
- Compromised reputation: Customer experience further impacts the reputation of the seller and also the logistics solution provider. If not immediately, it may cause a loss of business and poor market reputation in the long run.
- Logistical cost: If the product is damaged and returned, it involves additional costs. It involves collecting the returned goods, transporting it to its manufacturer/seller, etc. impacting its profit margins directly. Considering increasing sales in logistics is the major focus for businesses, reducing returns is way to increase customer satisfaction and hence repeat sales.
- Handling damaged products: Yet another concern for sellers is handling damaged products. Once the product is returned to the seller in a damaged condition, it can not be brought back to the inventory. Either it needs to be sent to the manufacturer for repair or it becomes waste. In any regard, a seller needs to spend time and take efforts to manage returned goods in supply chain, which otherwise may have invested in core competencies.
Causes of shipping damage
Having a serious impact on the business calls for an analysis of the cause of shipping damage. If shipping damages are analysed, here are some of the top reasons for damages in transit:
- Inappropriate packaging: Packaging of the product plays an important role in shipping. Improper packaging can lead to product damage. For example, if the product to be shipped is small in size and the size of the box is too big, there are chances of the product getting damaged. Similarly, if the packaging box is small or just fits in the product, there is a chance that the box gets torn, and the product is damaged. Therefore, it is necessary to choose an appropriate size of the box, the right packaging material, sufficient cushioning, etc. Also, it is necessary to add proper labelling. For example, if it is a glass product to be shipped, along with proper packaging a label of fragile needs to be attached.
- Mishandling: Improper handling of the packages is another cause of shipping damages. It is a logistics company’s responsibility to handle shipments carefully. Special care needs to be taken in the case of fragile items. Another angle to this is unsafe driving. In the case of road transport, unsafe driving or wrong product stacking in the truck can lead to product damage during shipping.
- Weather plays a role too: if the shipment is planned for a far away destination, weather conditions of not only the destination but also the source location and transit locations play a role in the damage. For example, humid conditions affect products like paper, food, medicines, electronics, etc. In this case, weather conditions of the source location, destination as well as transit need to be considered while packaging.
- Food items and infestations: Transportation of food items is one of the challenges of the logistics industry. Many food items are perishable and need to be reached their destination before their expiry. Alternatively, there is a high risk of damage due to infestations, change of weather conditions, etc. Similarly, carrying pharma products and medicines is also prone to damage due to changes in weather conditions such as heat, humidity, etc.
As a business owner, it’s imperative that you work with a logistics solutions provider who understands the diverse needs of goods transportations and can customize their services and solutions accordingly.
How to prevent shipping damages?
Here are some of the ways to reduce shipping damages.
- Using the right packaging and fillers: Packaging the product right is of utmost importance. The packaging material for example a plastic bag, carton, box, etc. is important. The protective packaging material needs to be chosen considering the mode of transport such as road, sea or air transport. Moreover, weather conditions may call for water-resistant packaging, the use of silica gel packets to control humidity, etc.
- Use fillers: Another factor is filler. Do not keep any empty space in the box. A filler is necessary to keep the product in the box intact. Various filler materials are available in the market such as bubble wrapping, air pillows, green cell foam, etc. As per the product inside, one may choose the right packaging and filler material to prevent shipping damage.
- Using the right labels: Use of the right labels such as ‘fragile’, ‘handle with care’, an indication of ‘upward’ side, ‘keep dry’, ‘don’t trample’ etc., can help the logistics company employees to handle the products accordingly. Therefore, the use of such indicative labels can help you prevent shipping damage.
- Pack it properly: Using the right packaging materials and labels are of no use if it is not packaged properly. Make sure that it is properly taped. Ensure that box is proper and can’t be easily torn.
- Keep track of data: This is a crucial step in managing logistics operations Keep track of data with regard to shipments returned due to damaged products. This will give you insights into why shipping damages are happening, and you can find a resolution for the same.
Also Read: What is DDP in shipping?
To sum it up, shipping damages can cause severe dents to the company’s profit margins, and hence it is extremely important to keep an eye on returns and shipping damages.
Logistics in India is a widespread industry. The government today is taking innovative steps to cut logistics costs and improve the overall operations, e.g., introducing logistics parks, designing the National Logistics Policy, PM Gati Shakti etc.
These initiatives are aiding the logistics sector to improve services across multiple parameters. Not surprisingly, in the recently published Logistics Performance Index 2023 (by The World Bank), India has jumped six places, ranking at No. 38 among 138 nations.