How to Protect Your Package from Damage During Transit

How to Protect Your Package from Damage During Transit Even though postal and courier companies do their best to handle all shipments with care, packages can get damaged during transit for a variety of reasons, ranging from poor packaging to adverse weather conditions and traffic accidents. If you prefer to print shipping labels yourself and mail packages from home, you probably want to know how to protect your package from damage during transit.

The most common reasons why packages get damaged during transportation include poor packaging, a lack of required labels and stickers (such as “Fragile”, “This Side Up”, etc.), wrong shipping label placement, traffic accidents, adverse weather conditions or drastic climate changes, and improper handling/human error. There is nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or bad weather, but you absolutely can make sure that your parcel is securely packaged to minimize the risk of shipping damages.

Choose a Sturdy Box of the Right Size

The easiest solution is to pick a carrier-supplied box that is supposed to be sturdy enough by the carrier’s standards. However, you still need to make sure that the box is the right size for the items you’re shipping. Since carriers usually charge by dimensional weight, it may seem cost-effective to choose a smaller box in order to save on shipping. However, a small box means not enough space for protective cushioning, which increases the risk of damage.

Ideally, the box should be a couple of inches larger on all sides (right, left, top, bottom) than the items you’re shipping to make space for cushioning materials. Make sure the box isn’t too large though; too much space is bad because the package contents might jostle around during transportation, even if you fill all the free space with cushioning materials. Besides, the larger the box, the more it costs to deliver.

If you chose not too use a carrier-supplied box, make sure the box you pick is lightweight but study. Corrugated cardboard boxes are generally considered the best option. A new box is always better than an old one. If you decide to reuse an old box, you need to a) make sure that the carrier allows it; b) make sure that the box is in good condition; and c) remove any old markings and labels from the box.

Choose the Right Cushioning Materials

Cushioning materials are specifically designed to protect the items you’re shipping from the elements and external impact. If the items are not pre-packaged, you need to use at least two types of materials: one to protect each item and the other to fill the free space inside the box.

First, wrap each item in bubble wrap or another protective material. Then line the bottom of the box with cushioning material (packing peanuts, shredded paper, etc.), arrange the items inside the box (heavier items first, followed by light and/or fragile items), and add more cushioning, including a layer on top. Close the box and give it a gentle shake before sealing; if you hear the contents move inside the box, add more cushioning to keep them in place.

Seal the Box Securely

Packing tape will protect the box not only from opening, but also from humidity. It is highly recommended to seal all the seams, not just the one on top; if the box is not new, you should consider using packing tape to reinforce the edges. If the package is heavy or the items inside are fragile, think about using reinforced or vinyl packing tape for extra protection.

Make Sure the Shipment Is Properly Labeled

First, let’s talk about the shipping label with the address and barcode. You should affix it to the larger side of the box, called the address side. If the label is affixed to the wrong side of the box, your shipment will be handled more than normal, which can lead to damage. It is also highly advisable to protect the label from the elements to ensure it doesn’t get lost or damaged beyond recognition.

If your package needs to be handled with special care, consider labeling it as Fragile. Interestingly, some people advise against doing so, claiming that packages with Fragile stickers are just begging to be handled roughly, but we personally think that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Consider Ground Shipping

If your shipment is not urgent, consider ground shipping because it usually involves fewer handling stages than expedited shipping, potentially lowering the risk of shipping damage. It also has the additional benefit of being less expensive than air delivery.

Consider Purchasing Additional Insurance

Most shipping options include standard liability coverage for up $100 in case of package loss, theft, or damage (although the sum may vary depending on the carrier and shipping service). If you’re shipping expensive and/or irreplaceable items, you should consider purchasing additional insurance. It won’t protect them from damage, but at least you will be reimbursed in full if something happens to your package.