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How to Ship Fragile Items for Your Dropshipping Store - A Detailed Guide to Minimise Risks

As the operations of dropshipping business rely heavily on logistics and supply chain, there are products with certain characteristics that store owners tend to avoid due to the complications involved in shipping them. Fragile/delicate items are among these, and their examples include ceramics, glassware, and electronics. However, it does not mean that no one is selling those kinds of goods. If you are considering dropshipping them, this blog post will provide you with a good overview of what you should do. Generally speaking, since it is impossible to prevent damages during transit 100% of the time, most dropshippers aim to reduce the breakage rate.

Why should you avoid breakage?

1. High cost of rectifying the situations

These costs include opportunity and monetary costs. For instance, your customer service team would need to serve the ‘angry’ customers and address their concerns. Furthermore, you need to replace the broken items for your buyers, which means additional costs of goods sold and shipping fees, on which you earn no profit.

2. Low customer satisfaction

No one likes to wait for their online orders for weeks and ends up receiving damaged products. Customers who experience this would leave bad reviews on your e-commerce store sites and spread bad words about your brand. Even if you resend them the products, they might still give you a low rating due to the additional waiting time and hassles that they go through.

3. Negative impact on brand reputation

This usually happens as a result of the above. The Internet has made information travel faster than ever. Although a few negative reviews do not seem much, they cost you more loss (e.g. new customers) than you think.

What can you do to minimise breakage?

1. Use the right box

First of all, you need to choose a box with the appropriate size for the items. It should not be too big because the items would shift around during transit, resulting in damages. However, it should not be too small either because you would have little to no space for fillers. Secondly, you need to decide which materials work best for the products you are shipping. You might be thinking about poly mailers because they have a layer of bubble wrap padding and are incredibly cheap. However, it is not a great option because your items can be smashed. Generally, you are recommended to go with corrugated cardboard boxes because they are lightweight, quite affordable, and able to provide some additional cushion support to the items. One rule of thumb is that the more delicate the items are, the more layers that the boxes should have.

2. Insert the right amount of dunnage

Besides choosing an appropriate container, you also need to protect your items with proper padding. Depending on your products, there are several methods and materials that you can use. For instance, you can wrap the items with bubble wraps, jiffy foam rolls, or kraft paper. Another thing that you need to do is to fill the air gaps inside the box to prevent the items from moving around during transportation. Some alternatives for you to consider include shredded cardboard, air pillows, and packing peanuts. However, you should also be mindful about how much to add because this might have an impact on the shipping fee.

3. Examine the items and final packaging

After finishing securing the items within the box, you should re-examine and find any fragile parts that are still exposed to the open air. In the inspection process, pay special attention to oddly-shaped or sharp-edged products because they are more likely to break while being transported from one place to another. For instance, the edges of a mirror might tear the dunnage and external packaging, which leads to further damages when it is exposed to hard surfaces. In that case, you can use foam edge guards to cover edges. If you still feel that it is not enough, you can use packing tapes to reinforce the wrapping. Hollow items such as vases or lamps pose other problems as they are even more fragile. Therefore, you should add additional padding and filler inside to minimise damages. If this is not possible (e.g. for closed statues), consider adding extra cushioning.

4. Attach a ‘Fragile’ label to the parcel

If you think that the carriers do not care about this label at all, you are wrong. This is also one reason why many dropshippers ignore this step. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, the label would give the transporters a heads-up to handle the parcel with greater care. It is also a good practice to include the direction arrows to help the shipping companies know which direction the packages should face when they are in transit. You can either do this with a bold marker or stamps that can easily be purchased anywhere. You are also suggested to label different sides of the box to make sure they stand out.

5. Collect and revise data on breakage during shipping

You should have a sheet that records data on whether the products are delivered intact or broken to the end consumers. If you notice that breakage happens frequently, you should get in touch with the shipping companies or your dropshipping agent to understand the situation. If they are not willing to cooperate with you on this, it might be time for you to switch your partners.

If you are looking for a reliable dropshipping agent who can help you scale your business, contact us today! With 30+ years of experience in logistics industry and 5+ years in dropshipping sector, Xianchao can help you handle most back-end matters and solve your pain points, ranging from product & supplier sourcing to ecommerce order fulfillment, or branded packaging & private labelling to quality inspection & product certification. Please feel free to reach out to us if you need to know any details about partnering with us.

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