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As all of us are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered our everyday life, including how we purchase and receive goods. With many stores and businesses gravitating towards online sales, the already booming e-commerce industry is now growing ever faster, offering plenty of potential for businesses of all sizes. Despite its obvious advantage over retail or traditional sales paths, businesses venturing into e-commerce for the first time do need to know about one potentially avoidable issue: shipping hazards.
As ever, packaging plays an essential role in not just showing off your product to a customer, but also in ensuring its secure delivery. It is important to remember that your customer does not judge your product as it leaves your warehouse. Instead, they judge when it reaches their own doorstep or business property. Regardless of whether they are at fault or not, customers who received damaged or broken goods turn first to the supplier, rather than the courier that delivered it. For this reason, staying on top of your packaging standards is vital for businesses looking to develop strong consumer relations.
The need for quality packaging is amplified when it comes to e-commerce. Because e-commerce products spend more time in shipping and transit, they are much more likely to encounter damaging bumps and knocks than traditional shipping methods would. From roughly handling in distribution warehouses and incorrect loading into a vehicle, to poor driving standards and environmental issues such as high humidity and temperatures, your products face many obstacles on their journey to your customers.
The most likely shipping challenge that your product will face is poor handling, especially when handled manually by distribution staff. As e-commerce requires a longer stay in the supply chain than traditional purchases do, your products are much more likely to be handled by different staff. Though an accidental toss or drop is unlikely to do any noticeable damage to your product, the risk of breaking your packaging and the product inside are significantly increased if repeated several times. This is why testing your e-commerce packaging to ensure it is protected against these knocks is essential for secure transit.
For manufacturers or e-commerce businesses with an in-house supply chain, there is some good news. By having full control of their supply chain, these manufacturers are able to effectively trace and monitor the product’s journey across the packaging and shipping process for any potential faults.
But how can manufacturers fully evaluate their supply chain?
Firstly, take in consideration the environment where you are distributing your goods. Identify the tools and facilities you use to prepare your products, as these may be the root cause of broken packaged goods before they even leave your facility.
Secondly, consider the method used to handle these goods. Are they being handled manually by staff at any point of the process? If so, have staff received proper training on product handling, and is this monitored as part of a quality control check? If the answer is no, it would be a good idea to establish the correct protocols so that damage can be avoided.
An example of a developed product safety protocol would be registering damage or product incident reports. Whenever a product is reported as damaged on-site, make sure a thorough review is conducted to figure where in the supply chain this has occurred. Some aspects of the supply chain are more prone to hazards than others, therefore these should be treated as the most likely culprit.
Other aspects of the chain might be less likely to cause a hazard but when they do, the damage is much more significant. These also need to be monitored and considered when trying to identify the cause behind a damaged good. Furthermore, do not be afraid to ask your consumers about the state of their products through feedback surveys. Not only does this demonstrate customer care, but it can also illustrate whether the damage is occurring prior or during transit, particularly when coupled with facility inspections and damage reports.
For longer-lasting support, make sure to log hazard data and regularly review it to ensure testing remains consistent and shipping standards maintain high. Record the key ‘symptoms’ of a broken good so that in the event of a future hazard, you can quickly eliminate troublesome causes and keep your supply chain flowing without interruption.
In order to deliver quality customer satisfaction that not only leads to repeated orders, but also drives plenty of new customers to your business, manufacturers must have a reliable packaging system in place.
Indeed, manufacturers and businesses standout against their competitors when they develop a packaging system that is quick to identify any hazards and act upon them swiftly. By taking even a brief period of time to set up systems such as hazard reporting and supply chain evaluations, your facility can run much more efficiently, all while keeping our customers satisfied.