Packages Break Sometimes, Man.

Zach Lukaszek, co-Founder of Ships-A-Lot

Zach Lukaszek is a former PhD student turned entrepreneur who enjoys writing about eCommerce, business, and programming.


bird@shipsalot.com

Zach Lukaszek, co-Founder of Ships-A-Lot

Zach Lukaszek is a former PhD student turned entrepreneur who enjoys writing about eCommerce, business, and programming.


bird@shipsalot.com

Packages Break Sometimes, Man.

breakage, Fulfillment, Order Fulfillment, Shipping speed -

Motivation

When our volume of highly fragile goods really ramped up, a couple things happened: 1) We dealt with more broken client goods than we were used to and 2) my anxiety went through the roof over point (1)

While the first point was a statistical eventuality, the second was pure fear. What do we do with any business fear? Explore its validity.

Don't forget the numbers. Seriously, don't forget the numbers

I've talked before about how a lack of general understanding of the bottom line can impact the future of your company. This is a corollary. If I don't put bottom-line changes (like broken shipments) into context, how do I know whether a response is necessary?

Seeing dozens and dozens of reports of our client's fragile glass products breaking every day set off a lot of emotional alarm bells (both mine and the client's). Eventually, we calmed down enough and contextualized the loss. We found that we were losing a paltry 1.70% of all packages.

At the end of the day, the loss was so minimal in the big picture that it might as well have been a rounding error.

Improve your packaging

For us, this just came down to moving to quad-layered cardboard (better test-load figures) and increasing the bubble-wrap load of each unit. This resulted in measurably improved break numbers and allowed us to comfortably ship packages until a statistically reliable figure came in (AKA the 1.70% figure).

These improvements being said...

Don't overthink or overdo the packaging!

When the fear really set in, we contemplated going all out on package protection: foam corners, surrounding the goods with 4 inches of bubble wrap, peanuts, better test-load cardboard, etc.

During those discussions, we had a good learning lesson returned to us by the good old USPS. See the image below.

I am relatively certain that a forklift, a full freight trailer, and a Marvel superhero all gave this package their best go. As soon as we got it back, we realized that all the foam corners in the world would not have saved this precious package.

On a funny note, the USPS does still attempt to deliver packages which are obviously and hilariously destroyed. We had a large glass package rupture during machine sorting (I believe at regional in Pittsburgh). The USPS workers were kind enough to remove all of the glass from the product and then attempt delivery.

Happy shipping and cheers to a good weekend!

We'll be speaking in Dayton tomorrow at Flyer Formation!


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