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No matter which carrier you choose, the risk of damage is ever-present and unavoidable when transporting your package.
With the sheer amount of packages handled by carriers on a daily basis, it’s only a matter of time before something unfortunate happens to one of your packages shipped to a valuable customer.
Things like boxes shifting during transport, trucks hitting bumps on the road, and accidental drops are all common causes of breakage.
And though you cannot remove these factors entirely, mitigation through careful packaging is the solution.
Even items that don’t seem like they would be at risk from damage can break, so you can understand how fragile items are even more susceptible to mishandling.
Fragile items include artwork, glass, electronic devices, antiques and mirrors.
In fact, 34% of packaging-related returns are because a customer received a damaged product, so protecting these fragile items is crucial!
The last thing you want is an unhappy customer, so how do you protect your items during shipping when packing fragile items?
In this article, we will show you exactly how to package fragile items for shipping and mitigate the probability of breakage.
How to Pack a Box for Shipping
Choose the Right Box for Shipping fragile items
All items, regardless of being fragile or not, need proper packaging to ensure they can reach their destination in one piece.
And to begin, it all starts with the box you choose to transport the item.
Using a larger box than necessary may be tempting because you can fit more packing materials around your fragile item, but do not be fooled.
On paper, it might make sense. More packaging material around your item equals more protection, right?
Well, in reality, this is not the case.
The excess amount of materials you use to fill the sizeable void space in your box can also shift around during transport and adds an extra factor you need to worry about.
Using a larger box than necessary needlessly increases the probability of filler materials shifting and, in turn, increases the chance of breakage.
And as an added negative to using a bigger box, it will also increase the shipping and handling cost because of its size!
However, having too big of a box is not the only problem when choosing the correct package for your item.
On the opposite end of the problem, having a box that is too small is also not ideal.
A box that snuggly fits your item will not allow for any protective wrap or filler and leaves it at the mercy of whatever rough handling it might endure.
Ideally, the best size for a box is one that leaves two inches of space around all sides of the fragile item.
This leaves room for protective filler and avoids unnecessary handling costs you might have incurred should you have used a large box.
But proper measurements must be done to ensure your item fits perfectly with your box.
With a ruler or measuring tape, ensure you know your item’s length, width and depth to make an informed decision on the correct sized box.
Alternatively, you can also use two boxes for an added layer of protection but don’t forget the filling.
Deciding on bubble wrap and Filler
The next thing to look at to properly package your fragile items for shipping is the insert you place inside the box.
If you chose the correct sized box for your item, there would still be around two inches of void space to fill, and there are several standard options to choose from.
Keep in mind careful packaging is still required regardless of the options you choose to use:
Bubble Wrap – Carefully wrapping your items with this material gives an extra layer of protection through the many air bubbles features on the wrap.
Packing Peanuts – Adding packing peanuts alongside other protective filler materials doesn’t hurt if you still have some extra space.
Air Bags/Pillows – Air pillows provide lightweight airbags around your item and are another excellent option for filling void space.
Crumpled Packing Paper – Crumpled packing paper can serve as a filler or wrapping material to complement bubble wrap.
Foam Enclosures – If your item is very fragile or expensive, you can also consider encasing the object in custom molded foam for the most protection. However, this method is not as scalable as the previous options.
Protection for your fragile items should be considered an investment.
You get what you pay for, and if you use cheap boxes and packaging materials, the protection of your items will suffer.
It may even lead to more losses because your items were damaged and customer satisfaction was affected.
Fragile Packing Steps and Techniques
Wrapping to ship fragile Items
How do you pack a box nicely and adequately?
If you’re wondering how to ship glass or any item with a hole or space in it, like a wine glass or cup, fill that space with crumpled paper or bubble wrap.
Afterward, cover your item in a layer of paper and use a little tape to secure it where needed.
Next, wrap the item in one or two layers of bubble wrap and secure it with packing tape.
Only use tape as necessary because too much will frustrate and negatively affect the customer’s unboxing experience.
This is especially true for fragile items, as customers may accidentally break the object when attempting to open an excessively taped item.
Pad the Inside of the Box
After carefully wrapping your item, the next thing to do is place it into your box and fill the remaining extra empty space.
The choice is up to you when choosing filler, as the primary objective is to prevent the item from moving inside the box. Your wrapping should already sufficiently protect the fragile item.
Place the wrapped item into your box and fill the four sides with more packing material before filling the top as well.
The package should be able to close without bulging and move around in various directions without feeling a shift of the content inside.
Once you are happy with your package’s look and feel, securely seal the box with packing tape and move on to the next step.
Properly Label the Fragile Package
Even if you are confident that you’ve packed your item securely, you should not skip out on adequately labelling the exterior of your package.
Affixing “Handle With Care” or “Fragile” onto your package’s labelling will give you added security because carriers will know the package is delicate.
Having clear fragile labels on your packaging also helps with recourse between you and your shipping company when these damages occur, so label your fragile packages properly!
The Carrier Options
Before we cover the differences between each major carrier, regardless of the company you choose, you should always consider purchasing shipping insurance for added security should your item break.
Shipping insurance reimburses a sender if a package is lost, stolen or damaged during transit, so this added safety is necessary for fragile items.
But now, with your package ready and the importance of shipping insurance covered, which carrier should you go with?
To get that answer, you need to know where you want to ship your item to, the rates of each carrier and their tracking capabilities.
USPS used to offer a Special Handling-Fragile service where, for an added fee, fragile packages were treated with priority and extra care.
This service has recently been discontinued.
However, the carrier encourages the purchase of shipping insurance alongside proper packaging and labelling practices to mitigate the risks of damage to fragile items.
With UPS, you can go to your local UPS store and have your fragile item packaged for you.
UPS offers packaging services ideal for those who are not experienced or confident with packing their fragile items.
This service requires you to purchase the packaging materials from your local UPS store, but as long as this is done, the carrier promises your package will reach its destination undamaged.
However, should anything happen to your package during transit, UPS will reimburse you for the item’s value, the retail price you paid for packaging materials and services, and the shipping cost.
This service significantly lessens all the stress and worry of shipping a fragile item.
Like UPS, FedEx also offers packaging and shipping services if the item is packed and shipped via FedEx.
Reimbursement for lost or damaged goods is limited to $100 unless a higher value is declared and an extra fee is paid.
For items higher than $100, fragile items, or items with a value difficult to ascertain, the maximum reimbursement amount is $1000.
Set Your Customer’s Expectations
Once your package is in your preferred carrier’s hands, it is up to them to get your package to its destination safely.
At this point, there is not much else you can do but hope your package arrives safely.
Your carriers handle numerous packages daily and are professionals at getting packages from one point to another.
Including fragile labels on your package will help these professionals know how to handle and care for your delicate package.
However, as mentioned earlier, accidents and unforeseen circumstances happen, in which case shipping insurance will help recoup costs.
Human error or interference is always a risk.
The final recommendation is to have a clear line of communication with your customers, set their expectations, and minimize any negative emotions if your package arrives damaged.
Inform your customer that the item you are shipping is fragile. Reassure them that you’ve done your part in careful packaging and labeling of the parcel.
Provide them with tracking so they can keep tabs on their package.
Consider telling your customers they can request a refund or replacement should the item arrive damaged.
Again, you can minimize the costs of remedying unforeseen circumstances with shipping insurance.
But if you’ve followed the steps in this article, you are in the best position to minimize the risk of shipping fragile items and ensure your package arrives in one piece.
To recap, package your fragile items carefully.
Remember the best box size for your item and wrap it in sufficient bubble wrap. Fill the empty space in the box with packaging materials to ensure no shifting occurs.
Use labels on your box to notify carriers of delicate items and help assist with handling.
Research your carriers thoroughly for the best option and get shipping insurance!
There is no way to completely eradicate the risk of damage to fragile items during transport, but hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to minimize it.