The Risks of Improper Shipping Practices and How to Avoid Them

by Ryan Anderson on Nov 30, 2016 3:00:00 PM e-Commerce

For many e-commerce retailers, shipping deadlines and overall product presentation, are top of mind when thinking about packaging. Most retailers aren’t worried much about the potential dangers of shipping – but, as it turns out, maybe they should be.

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How Common Products Could Make Shipping a Nightmare

While most retailers aren’t shipping materials that would be considered “hazardous,” like toxic chemicals or highly flammable materials, the term itself is limiting. Think instead about “restricted” materials, which might not be harmful themselves but could be if the right procedures are not followed. Many seemingly harmless materials can lead to disaster while in transit. Even materials that aren’t dangerous could potentially ruin other items. For example, a leaking water bottle could easily destroy other packages in the shipment.

However, there are real risks to shipping products that amount to more than ruined boxes. Everyday items that pose serious threats include:

  • Hairspray, which can be flammable when shipped by the gallon
  • Lithium batteries, which can explode under pressure
  • Common liquids like dish soaps that could cause accidents if leaked
  • Photography equipment, which contains corrosive materials

Even improper shipping methods that don’t result in accidents could prove costly if caught, as Amazon’s recent $350,000 hazardous-materials violation shows.

 

Use Shipping Partners to Minimize Risks

Between fines, damaged goods, and accidents, retailers can’t afford to ship restricted materials improperly. Since many e-commerce retailers simply don’t have the expertise to ensure that best shipping practices are adhered to, it’s often best for retailers to use experienced third-party shipping providers. Shipping partners handle all aspects of delivery and allow retailers to focus on other areas.

The best parcel shippers scrutinize every product in person to determine potential issues, from label to package to container. From there, partners will determine the best way to ship restricted materials to avoid any pitfalls.

Shipping providers have time-tested solutions for difficult products: transporting liquids in plastic bags, using tissue paper to catch any spills and special containers to protect explosive products from pressure. They can also create new procedures to adapt to the specific needs of each retailer.

Ultimately, customers expect fast, reliable delivery from e-commerce retailers, and will turn to competitors if their needs are not met. Damaged products or delays caused by improper shipping practices can permanently damage brand perception, so it’s crucial that accidents are completely avoided. Using a shipping partner is the most reliable way to efficiently deliver products without incident.

Headshot Ryan Anderson.jpgRyan Anderson, national manager of transportation and compliance OSM Worldwide

Ryan Anderson's blog
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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.