It’s so important to protect your products at every stage – from the warehouse all the way to their destination. Here are pointers for ensuring the integrity and safety of what you sell in order to minimize loss as well as avoid customer disputes.
In the warehouse
- Assess warehouse personnel. Whether you store your products onsite or use a commercial warehouse, double-check the qualifications and background of those who will be responsible for managing and handling your stock.
- Double-check processes. How often are your products handled? Are they properly labeled? Have you reviewed whether your products may be crushed or damaged as the result of shoddy stacking or storage?
- Check dimensions. Know each product’s specific measurements and potential for breakage so you can choose the right kind of packaging, plus additional protective materials if needed.
- Think about the environment. Size isn’t the only consideration: is the product perishable? Sensitive to extremes in temperature or moisture? Be sure you’ve protected your products against any potentially damaging elements.
- Choose the right shipping materials. Single-wall corrugated boxes are usually good for small and medium products, but you’ll likely want to up the durability level along with dimensional size. The carton’s Edge Crush Test rating will help you anticipate the potential for crush or collapse.
- Stick to the right fasteners. Tape comes in many sizes and strengths, but some shipments require box staples to stay intact in transit.
- Filler up. Will bubble wrap, packaging peanuts, kraft paper or air-filled pockets – or a combination of these fillers – properly protect your products? Plastic films that encase or “shrink wrap” products can, when properly used, eliminate the need and space requirements of extra filler.
- Be wary of identifiers on your shipment. If your logo or a product name is on your shipping label, you could be alerting potential package thieves to what’s inside. Consider plain packaging, at least on the outside of your shipment.
Managing customer concerns
- Develop a customer service plan. As an ecommerce seller, you need to be responsive, professional and prompt in all of your communications with disappointed shoppers. While the product’s location or condition may not be within your control, your reaction and response are should be.
- Opt for tracking and insurance. There’s no better way to ensure and prove that your shipments are where they’re supposed to be. This is particularly important for hard-to-find, customized and higher-priced items.
- Be judicious before issuing refunds or replacements. While being sympathetic and responsive, take time to thoroughly investigate claims of a lost or damaged item. For damaged items, assess if it’s reasonable and/or cost-effective to have the customer ship back the damaged item, and whether you have an identical or similar product to offer as a replacement. It’s also worth noting that if the product was damaged in transit by the carrier, you could use the insurance that comes with Priority Mail or the declared value coverage included with UPS and FedEx. Scammers will usually ask for a refund, so carefully track claims and check if the customer has a pattern of product loss or damage issues before potentially setting yourself up for greater loss.