Protective Packaging: Avoid Damaged Goods and Customer Returns

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“Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”

—Anonymous

OVERVIEW

Damaged goods are a massive problem for e-commerce stores, online retailers, and even brick-and-mortar stores. It is said that getting your product to the buyer is only half the battle, which could not be more accurate: statistics show that 18.1% of products are returned, and 80.2% of returns happen because the product is damaged or broken. The hassle does not end there: when items are returned, the cost makes up approximately 17% of the prime costs per unit.

Protective packaging is a priority when it comes to tackling the e-commerce and retail return rate issue  but is also critical if you are manufacturing and transporting durable goods like electronics, shipping any kind of food and beverages, or packaging easily scratched automotive components. In each scenario, you need a protective solution that ensures products don’t get damaged while moving through the distribution cycle and that the unboxing experience is optimal.

In this article, we are going to explore the importance of choosing the correct packaging solution to minimize customer returns and maximize your bottom line and reputation.

WHAT IS PROTECTIVE PACKAGING?

Protective packaging is any form of packaging that is designed to shield, support, stabilize, and insulate products from damage or deterioration during the entire supply chain, but particularly during shipping and transport. In some situations, protective packaging can be used as a primary packaging component, but the more common applications are for secondary packaging.

Types of protective packaging may include:

  • bubble wrap
  • air pillows/air bags
  • corrugated wrap
  • molded wrap
  • styrofoam peanuts
  • corner blocks
  • angle/edge boards
  • packaging inserts
  • void fillers

THE HIDDEN COST OF CUSTOMER RETURNS

When you ship a product, you want it to arrive in the same condition it was when you packed it. If your customers receive damaged goods, they may not only return them for a full refund but also tell their friends and acquaintances about their bad experience.

The hidden costs of customer returns can be high. It does not exclusively boil down to the initial sale price, the missed profit, and the original shipping cost. You also have to consider the labor, administrative, and customer service costs, along with the cost of inspecting/repairing the item for a potential resale. Furthermore, the storage and disposal of returned items may add to the total cost of customer returns. Too many returns due to damage means your brand reputation could take a hit. Then there’s the compensation method (such as a substantial discount or a free item replacement) which involves an additional charge for your company.

Additionally, damaged products can result in lost sales and long-term consequences, especially in B2B relationships. Receiving a damaged shipment may shut your partner’s production lines down, resulting in production downtime, operational hurdles, business relationship impact, and financial loss.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE PROTECTIVE PACKAGING?

Your choice of protective packaging will depend on many factors. If you are not sure if your type of product requires protective packaging, here are some considerations:

  • the product’s fragility
  • the product’s weight
  • the product’s size/dimensions
  • the product’s edges and corners
  • the quantity of products per package
  • the shipping method
  • the excess space in your current packaging solution
  • the product’s value
  • the product’s various and ultimate destinations (store shelf, customer front door, etc.)
  • the customer experience you want to provide

WHICH PACKAGING PROTECTION SOLUTIONS ARE BEST FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

In today’s market, sustainable and environmentally-friendly packaging is a must-have. If you are committed to environmental responsibility, using environmentally harmful protective packaging components such as styrofoam packing peanuts or traditional plastic bubble wrap will be a turnoff for many customers.

The good news is that sustainable protective packaging solutions that are both cost-efficient and eco-friendly are a fairly simple fix for most businesses. For example, ITB Packaging’s dividers and partitions enable customers to separate and isolate the shipped items while providing class A protection. Such a choice leads to decreased material usage and costs by eliminating the need for foam, air pillows, bubble wrap, and other void filler materials.

Also, our dividers and partitions are 100% recyclable and increase the warehouse storage space by 25-75%, reducing the costs associated with additional labor for coated partitions, chip, and die-cut installation. You can read more about our packaging solutions here.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The biggest takeaway from all this is that if your packaging solution is not up to industry standards, you risk destroying your product or upsetting your customers—neither of which will earn you repeat business.

Being proactive with your packaging protection, choosing suitable materials and finding the appropriate provider is the only way to ensure that your products arrive safely at their destination.

Want to read later or share this information with your team? Download our Guide to Packaging Optimization.