Common Shipping Mistakes and Packaging Errors to Avoid
Fashion designers working

Whether you like it or not, you can’t ignore shipping when you have an eCommerce business. And e-retailers who’ve been in this business for a while know it involves more than just transporting a box. While shipping can be complicated and at times a headache, when you have to find solutions to lost packages, damaged products, or hidden fees; by getting well informed you can avoid common packaging and shipping mistakes such as the following.

1. Using unsuitable packaging material

Some eCommerce retailers still underrate packaging as an important factor. Improperly packaged merchandise has a greater risk of being damaged during shipping, and due to improper packaging shipping companies may decline damage claims, which may cost you. Think about your products and choose packaging materials wisely. Experts say poly bags work well for soft goods that are not fragile, such a clothing; however single-box packaging is the most common method for packaging non-fragile contents. It’s only when the shipment arrives safely at the customer’s door that an eCommerce transaction is complete, so handle your packaging well, as it’s also what shapes your brand’s image and identity.


2. Not getting the shipment weight right

If your eCommerce business has not invested in proper equipment for weighing packages, this leads to estimated weights. Shipping carriers usually re-weigh goods with their certified scales upon receiving merchandise and will charge you if the original weight estimate is inaccurate. Re-weighing charges may cost you in the long run, so it is wise to purchase a proper scale from the beginning, this will save your business money.


3. Hiding your returns policy

In the era of online shopping, customers want to be sure that if they are not happy with an item they can return it, so they evaluate the returns policy before making a purchase. Therefore don’t make the mistake of concealing your returns policy somewhere on your site, but have it placed distinctly on the page where customers can see it while shopping. Adding a link to it in the footer pages of your site is a good way to do this. Jim Brill, a returns portfolio marketing manager for UPS, said a returns policy that isn’t plain and is hard to find and can frustrate your customers or even push them into crossing to your competition.


4. Relying on one shipper for all your supplies

Some eCommerce retailers rely on one transporter for all their shipping needs; however, that is not a wise business practice. You should try to have relationships with several shipping companies in order to weigh rates, and from there you can enjoy the most competitive one. Relying on one shipping company to take care of all your shipping can cost you should something go wrong with their operation; you could find yourself being unable to deliver to customers on time or in the manner promised.


5. Classifying merchandise inaccurately

Don’t make the mistake of labelling your merchandise for shipment incorrectly because lower freight classes cost less. In wanting to ship freight at the lowest class possible, some eCommerce retailers often do this, but shippers don’t look past incorrect class labels, and this results in a re-classification fee. Not checking whether merchandise has been labelled under the correct freight class may cost carriers because this is a large factor in how they determine their charges, so they spend as much time as required on re-classifying freight to ensure they are not losing any money by being paid incorrectly.


Don’t hesitate to conduct more research when you are not sure about something. South African online shopping is growing and there are several eCommerce platforms that can assist you with both shipping and packaging queries as well as other aspects of running an online store, such as integrating to the best payment gateway. Remember, an online retail transaction is only complete when it reaches the customer’s door in good condition!