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Know How: Protect your shipments + ensure delivery

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Welcome to our "Know How" series - we share ways to maximize your success! See all our best practices.

By the time you’re ready to ship a package, you’ve undoubtedly invested a lot into the order. The final stages - packaging, shipping, and delivery - will complete the sale. The job isn't done when the package leaves your door - it must arrive to the customer unscathed and on-time. 

Fortunately, some preparation and planning will guard against your shipment’s two largest threats: loss and damage.

Here is an overview of steps to take - scroll down or click through each link for details:

  1. Proper packing will safeguard your products.
  2. Correct addressing assures shipments will be sent to the correct recipient.
  3. Clearly labeled packages alert carrier to special handing requirements.
  4. Selecting an appropriate service minimizes risk of damage.
  5. Delivery confirmation, including requiring a signature, gives you affirmation of successful delivery.
  6. Shipment insurance ensures that, when all your good planning fails, you’re covered.

 

Proper packing

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to packing your orders, but they can be summarized in 3 points:

  • Box: strong enough to withstand drops, as well as collisions and compression forces from other packages; big enough to allow for enough cushion materials, yet small enough to minimize airspace.
  • Cushion: forgiving materials of sufficient quantity (think 3” all around) and quality that minimize movement of contents; loosely packed so that the box is easy to close and not bulging. 
  • Seal: quality adhesive tape and, if needed, bands that are sure to keep the box closed.

When selecting materials, keep in mind the many hazards that your packages will face:

  • Drops and compression
  • Vibration and changes in pressure
  • Temperature and humidity fluctuations

For more information on each of these dangers and actionable advice to prevent harm, take a look at our packing guide.

If you happen to ship perishable items, further care must be taken when packing your orders. Learn more about preparing perishable shipments.

 

Correct addressing

A complete address is essential to making sure that your packages are delivered to the correct recipient. Use complete address information, such as Blvd. and St., and add unit numbers, such as Apt. and Ste., when needed. Even take the time to verify shipping addresses with carriers by using tools like USPS' address lookup.

ShippingEasy also validates all addresses through Endicia’s Dial-A-Zip and SmartyStreets. When we’re unable to verify than an address is known to USPS, we’ll signal the problem. In this case, it’s best to return to your customer to verify the address or reference a map to correct minor spelling or formatting errors.

Learn more about ShippingEasy’s validation tools.

 

Label packages

If your contents require special handling, such as when they contain fragile items, liquids, or perishables, be sure to note this on the box. Each carrier has their own requirements, but usually the label is applied to the largest surface and spaced away from the sides.

When shipping USPS parcels via ShippingEasy, you can customize your USPS labels with a carrier note. Learn more.

Even when clearly labeled, don’t assume this will protect the package. Be sure you’ve taken other measures as detailed in this guide.

 

Appropriate service

With so many carrier services available, it’s easy to be driven by the bottom line and select the least expensive option. Keep in mind that damaged or spoiled products are equally costly, so select a service that’s first and foremost suited to the parcel contents.

For instance:

  • A case for air mail: some perishable items may be able to withstand the extra jostling of ground shipments, but may spoil before the package arrives. So an overnight air service, such as USPS Priority Mail Express, is a better choice, despite the cost.
  • A case for ground: pressure sensitive items such as liquids or foods in a sealed bottle or pouch may burst in an un-pressurized cargo hold of an airplane. Yet, if packaged to withstand jostling, may fair better via a ground option such as USPS Parcel Select Ground.

Learn more about the mail services available in ShippingEasy.

 

Delivery confirmation:

Delivery confirmation, also known as tracking, provides you the ability to digitally track your package’s journey. Learn more about USPS Delivery Confirmation

Tracking is included with many carriers’ services. However, finding out that your can’t track a package is an unpleasant surprise - especially if you've already sent the parcel. In addition, if you plan to insure your shipments, the insurance is only valid if the shipment is traceable. So, take the time to verify if the service and package option you plan on using includes tracking. Learn more about selecting services suitable for your shipments.

Sometimes delivery confirmation may be adequate, but other times it pays to get extra assurance that a package was delivered to a person and not simply left on a door step. When this the case - add signature confirmation. It’s is especially recommended for valuable shipments, as well as during the holidays when porch theft is a real threat. Learn more about USPS Signature Confirmation.

When shipping via ShippingEasy, you can employ Shipping Rules to automatically add the confirmation services you need to your shipments. Learn more

 

Shipment insurance

Assuming that you’ve taken all of the previously recommended steps - bottom line - shipment insurance is your best protection against loss and damage. Secure coverage for any shipment you can’t afford to reproduce and mail again on your own dime.

Buying insurance:

Many carriers include insurance with select services, ranging from $50 to $200 per shipment. Find out how much insurance is included with USPS services.

If you need more coverage than the service provides, you can purchase additional insurance. Many carriers sell added insurance. If you’re shipping within ShippingEasy, you can purchase insurance through Shipsurance for less than the carriers’ standard rates.

Better still, if you know certain shipments will always need extra insurance coverage, you can set up insurance defaults and/or Shipping Rules to apply that coverage.

  • Insurance defaults: the simplest way to insure all your shipments based on a specific or total order value. Learn more.
  • Shipping Rule: maximum control with minimal ongoing effort to ensure specific types of shipments based on your criteria. Learn more.
Claiming insurance:

When you’ve insured a shipment, it’s very important to keep receipts or appraisals of all products that are sent. This will be your proof of value in the case that you need to file a claim.

It is also recommended that you inform your customer that their package is insured and include instructions as to how to proceed if their delivery arrives damaged. It is critical that your customer notifies you immediately of damage and keeps all damaged packaging and contents for the carrier and/or insurance provider to inspect. 

There are a couple of ways to inform your customer the part they play in the claims process:

  • Include a note in the package, such as this free printable card from Shipsurance.
  • Send a customized confirmation email when a package is insured. This works well if you use Shipping Rules to assign insurance as you can apply a unique confirmation email with the same rule.

Once you receive notice from your customer of a damaged package, you can begin the claims process. This will vary depending on which party is handling the claim. Find more information for the following insurance providers: 

 


Related articles:

Best Practices: Free supplies + custom packages
Packing Tips: Most Common Packing Mistakes
What insurance options does ShippingEasy provide?
Are there limits on what I can insure?
Quick USPS International Mail Insurance tips

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