How to Protect Packages from Damage & Theft During Shipping

While e-commerce has been on the rise for decades, the lockdowns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic saw brick-and-mortar retail sales grind to a halt. After that, e-commerce exploded in popularity. Despite the waning pandemic restrictions, the popularity of e-commerce has not dipped.

As e-commerce exploded, so did the number of online merchants. Online selling success hinges on quality shipping, and merchants that deliver damaged goods or frequently have packages stolen after delivery are unlikely to last long. Still, plenty of businesses have unlocked the secret to successful deliveries.

The truth is, there are some excellent ways that merchants can protect the goods they sell from the warehouse all the way to when the item is delivered to the buyer’s hands. Keep reading for more information.

Reasons Packages Get Stolen or Damaged

Stealing packages off people’s porches has become so common that the thieves have been aptly named “porch pirates.” This behavior became common during the pandemic lockdowns, but even warehouses experienced some theft. Here are some factors that contribute to thefts and damage of packages during shipping:

Missing or Inadequate Cushioning Materials

Shipping goods always carries some risk, especially if they are fragile. All shipped goods should be wrapped in cushioning material, such as styrofoam, bubble wrap, or pillows. These materials absorb any impact the box may experience, so shipping without them means putting the goods inside the box at risk.

Branded Packages

One of the biggest draws for thieves scanning porches for packages is boxes with a lot of branding on the outside. These boxes quickly show people nearby what might be inside, making it more attractive. This is especially true for expensive brands like Apple. Products shipped in “discreet” packaging with less indication about the boxes’ contents are less likely to be nabbed by a thief.

Oversized Packages

A significant factor contributing to packages becoming damaged during transport is how big the box is compared to the item inside. Boxes that leave a lot of room for items to shift around during transport are more likely to get damaged. Packages should always be only slightly larger than the goods inside so that there is adequate room for cushioning material but not much else.

Poor Handling

Packages exchange hands a few times between when they leave the warehouse and when they arrive at a person’s front door. With how busy the shipping and handling personnel are, there is an increased possibility that the package will be handled incorrectly at some point between point A and point B, causing disruptions or loss of the item altogether. Labeling the package “fragile” can sometimes help, but those labels may also attract thieves.

Water Damage

Logistics companies all have to deal with how the weather affects product deliveries. One way that packages can get damaged during adverse weather is by exposure to water. Delivery personnel have to exercise extreme caution when it’s raining heavily to avoid damaging packages.

Pest Infestation

Though fairly uncommon, pest infestation is one way that packages can be damaged during shipping. Pests often hitch a ride on packages that are kept on crowded cargo ships and can stay in the package until it is delivered to its final destination. This is especially true for consumables that attract certain bugs and rodents. These goods should have leak-free packaging to avoid any unwanted pests getting access to them.

Preventing Damage and Theft

Shipping companies are not new to the idea of damaged or stolen packages. There are a number of ways they can limit the chances of these things happening, but the easiest way is to hire a company that specializes in shipping for eCommerce. These companies have established and experienced systems for e-commerce deliveries that help simplify the process for merchants so they can spend their energies elsewhere.

Here are some of the ways merchants can reduce the chances of packages being stolen or damaged during shipping:

Proper Packaging

The first and most important step is using the right packaging for the product. This means choosing packages that are the right size for the product and considering how the product should be protected during transport. If the product is especially susceptible to pests or water damage, make sure it is shipped inside a leak-proof, sealed package.

Discreet Boxes

Thieves that are looking to steal packages off of people’s porches usually check for things like the size of the box, whether the box is branded by a specific company, or if it is marked with words like “fragile” or “TV inside.” To avoid this, merchants should use discreet or unmarked packaging that doesn’t easily advertise what might be inside the box.

Package Protection

Packages should always be shipped with material that cushions them from impact. Shipping involves many moving parts, and it is nearly impossible to ensure that packages will not be mishandled during the entire process. Wrapping goods in a protective layer before putting them in the box ensures that the goods are protected as much as possible if they do get tossed around during shipping.

Track Shipping Damages

When merchants become aware of a package being damaged during shipping, they should log the incident. Keeping a detailed record of how packages get damaged can help them locate any areas that they may be able to improve.

Shock and Impact Indicators

One way merchants can help determine how an item was damaged is by including shock or impact indicators that show what kind of damage the package experiences. It will also calculate the damage and report it back to the merchant. Doing this can also give a heads up to the shipping handlers throughout the process, making them more cautious when handling the package overall.

Final Thoughts on Protecting Packages from Damage & Theft

Choosing packaging for products and ensuring the products’ safety during shipping can seem complicated. The best way for businesses to ensure they are protecting their goods as they move from point A to point B is to hire a company with a proven and tested eCommerce shipping system.

Andrew Kirk

I am an experienced logistics and supply chain executive with over 15 years in the global end-to-end logistics field, including retail, direct sales, and B2B. I leverage strong relationship skills, a team-oriented management style, and a focus on talent development to drive results and lead change for our internal team and clients alike.