Vicki Case, Sealed Air Vice President, E-Commerce & Fulfillment Solutions

Ditch the Extra Boxes and Design for Delivery

I recently bought a waffle maker online. It was sent to me in the exact same box the manufacturer uses for displaying it on a store shelf, but with a little extra tape. No surprise that it showed up at my house bumped, bruised and broken.

According to enterprise logistics provider Shipwire, when a damaged product arrives on the doorstep, it is typically caused by one or two things: “Either the product was incorrectly packaged for its method of transit or the product packaging couldn’t live through the extent of the abuse that it was subjected to in transit.”

how to reduce damage from shipping

As e-commerce continues to increase and more products are being shipped to consumers at faster rates,some of these delivery trips can be treacherous. “Packaging and crush protection is designed to handle most of the bumps and scrapes of transport,” Shipwire states. “But more often than not, parcels and packages take abuse during transit.”

If you’re like me, you rarely go into an actual store these days. Why bother driving, parking, and shopping in a store when pretty much everything you want or need can be purchased online? I’ve ordered everything from bath soap to a bathtub right from my smart phone.

Online shopping is our present and our future. There’s going to be a lot more of it. And with more online shopping comes more package deliveries. And with more package deliveries – which often arrive in just one or two days – comes a higher risk of receiving damaged goods. Faster rarely means safer.

To prevent damage to e-commerce orders, many retailers use varying degrees of shipping packaging such as air pillows or paper. But what if, in some cases, secondary packaging wasn’t necessary? What if more products were designed for delivery?

Designing for delivery ensures that products are packaged properly at the onset, such as at the manufacturer site.

Historically, packaging for shipping has mostly been an afterthought. Now, as more products are being jammed inside loaded trucks, the packaging paradigm needs to be flipped. What’s been learned and implemented with primary packaging should now be applied to secondary packaging.

Oftentimes, something as minor as a small household appliance will arrive in nothing more than its retail packaging – that’s where problems occur. This kind of primary packaging isn’t designed for delivery.

But, more boxes can’t be the solution. There’s a tremendous cost to putting everything in an extra box. The answer is to design original packaging to endure the rigors of transport to the customer’s door.

Designing for delivery can involve something as simple as adding flexible packaging material and extra cushioning on the inside of the primary packaging along with minimal protection on the outer shell. This type of design will cut costs on shipping because secondary boxes aren’t required for protection.

Secondary, corrugated boxes not only take up a lot of warehouse space, they are a drain on logistics. People have to be paid to ensure the quantity of boxes, to erect the boxes, and to place items and void-fill materials into the boxes. This is where design for delivery is so powerful. It allows companies to tighten up supply chains.

The design for delivery concept can be applied to existing products as well as new ones by analyzing the current manufacturing and fulfilling processes to find the weak spots.

If my waffle maker had been designed for delivery, it would have been secured in durable packaging and right-sized for the application, and I would have been able to whip up a tasty breakfast right out of the box. But instead, I had to pack up the appliance, prepare to return it, and settle for a bowl of cereal. Fail.   

Companies need to consider the journey a product will take from warehouse to doorstep. Positive customer experiences are planned from the beginning, not accidentally achieved on arrival.