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calendar    Apr 18, 2023

3 crucial tactics to minimize the risk of lost packages

Unwanted adventures happen to packages: they get lost, someone steals them or they get damaged. How can this be prevented? Today's post will tell you!

Let's make a deal: it's impossible to avoid losing or having a package stolen. However, work can be done to minimize as much as possible the risk of this unfortunate situation occurring, which potentially has a negative impact on sales and customer dissatisfaction (as well as the related increasing rate of negative reviews).

So what are some tips that every eCommerce store can implement to prevent this kind of situation? Read today's article to find out how to take proper care of your parcels!

Lost or stolen packages: the challenge of daily sales

According to data collected in a study by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2020, 1.7 million packages were stolen or lost every day in the United States alone. If we were to make predictions about shipments from all over the world, the figures would be more than frightening.

Interestingly, parcels are also sometimes undelivered for other reasons - which, interestingly enough, also include errors relating to... to the Clutch data:

We all know: there is a long way between the time the label is printed and the package reaches the customer - and there is plenty of room for error. From verifying the data on the shipping label itself - to communicating with your customers, in today's post, we will tell you which important elements of the whole process you should pay special attention to win outstanding customer satisfaction.

So what steps should eCommerce brands and every online retailer take to build love customer relations and avoid supply chain problems? Check out the following list of tips for safe shipping!

  1. Pay special attention to shipping labels

We have written in the past about how important the shipping label is in the shipping process. Its proper completion definitely avoids the unpleasantness associated with lost packages or other inefficiencies in the delivery chain.

Proper packaging is a real art in the logistics industry. An element that every shipping company pays attention to is the shipping label. If you only have to remember one thing from this text, remember - only ship packages with labels that contain data such as the one in the graphic below:

  1. The sender’s name and address,

  2. The customer's address and name (shipping addresses enriched with an email address and phone number),

  3. Delivery point (if it's different from the recipient's place of residence): in this example pick-up point in a store in a shopping mall,

  4. Bar code generated by the fulfillment provider or the 3PL company (i.e., simplifying, by companies managing the entire logistics process for given e-commerce),

  5. Bar code with order number generated by a courier company,

  6. Date of placing the order together with the date of order pick up,

  7. Information that the order will be paid for on delivery moment,

  8. Additional comments to the order (eg. package weight, service type - normal or express, return address, tracking number, etc.).

In addition, if you are sending the package to an office address, be sure to include the name of the company with the correct floor and room number. In this way, you will certainly avoid the problem of the wrong address - the more information about where the online orders are delivered, the better. After all, higher deliverability is what every eCommerce business, as well as online shoppers, care about.

Pssst: When it comes to shipping labels, it is also worth betting on a good quality laser printer. Typical inkjet printers can blur the labels, which, if exposed to damp conditions, will fail and become unreadable.

  1. Thorough address verification

However, all this work will be in vain if you make mistakes in connection with ... wrong address. Those who work in logistics have seen typos, misspelled property or street numbers, or incorrect postal codes hundreds of times. Unfortunately, missing packages it's virtually an everyday occurrence - and while accidents do happen, this kind of human error is really easy to eliminate by relying on simple accuracy.

Some companies are developing special systems to catch such errors in advance. These include, for example, the USPS (United States Postal Service) and their Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS), which helps increase carrier efficiency - while minimizing delivery errors.

Package theft: anticipate the unpredictable

Sometimes we all have to deal with lost packages; however, there is another type of situation in which you have to handle missing packages, namely package theft. Both of these situations obviously affect the lost shipping costs, but also the dissatisfaction of customers.

A dedicated term has even been coined to describe the perpetrators of this crime - porch pirates. Research by C+R Research clearly shows that their numbers are growing at an alarming rate - from more than nearly one-third of Americans reporting having a package stolen in 2018, to almost half in 2020. Interestingly: porch pirates steal everything. Probably the most "fun" case was the one where they stole.... a package containing live tarantulas.

There are, however, a few psychological tricks to get this problem under control as well. One of them is plain packaging. Normally, brown packaging enhanced only by a label is unlikely to attract the attention of a thief. However, logos, eye-catching colors, and everything related to branding and advertising (especially if we are talking about luxury products or other high-value items) will. So don't tempt robbery and luck - prevent theft and opt for discreet packaging.

Industry practice also shows that the way to combat parcel theft is to... send them not to the door, but to delivery lockers. Let's face it: courier companies should not leave parcels at the door or in the neighbor's house when the addressee is not there. Yet they do, with the result that parcels are often left behind by members of the public. Parcel lockers avoid this problem as each customer has a unique code or barcode which entitles them to collect their parcel at their own convenience.

Shipping insurance: is it worth it?

The party who in most cases bears the costs associated with lost or stolen packages is the shipper. Furthermore, as an eCommerce business, you will most likely have to accept not only the loss of this particular consignment but also the sending of a new one of equal value. So if you send a lot of parcels every month, or if these are shipments with a prohibitive financial value, you should consider taking out shipping insurance. Take my word for it: it will pay for itself in no time at all.

Please note that both the prices and conditions for shipping insurance vary depending on the carrier. However, you can always choose another option - that of using a third-party service that can offer more favorable financial terms. What's more, when deciding to purchase shipping insurance remember that it generally covers problems of lost and stolen packages, but also the matter of.... damage. In such cases, simply make a claim to the insurer and patiently wait for reimbursement.

When reporting such damage under an insurance claim, arm yourself with as much data and evidence as possible. As a minimum, provide information such as:

  • details of the parcel - tracking number and package's weight;

  • a receipt or invoice for the value of the package;

  • pictures of the damage (if applicable).

Pro-tip: Prevention is better than cure. This is why it is so important to properly package your shipment to prevent shipping damage: using bubble wrap or extra cushioning material when sending fragile items.

Lost or stolen: summing up...

The lost package is more than just a financial loss - it is also the loss of a company's good reputation and customer satisfaction.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in one of the situations described above, it is important not to conceal this for as long as possible, but to be transparent and inform the buyers of the situation. Also, keep them informed of the delivery date and, if possible, always include a tracking number in your communication with the customer. Keep him informed of which shipping company you are using and let them know of any shipping updates.

Handle packages with care and pay attention to product packaging. Provide your customers with the tracking information. Avoid shipping damages and parcels' improper handling. Of course, major carriers take care of the parcels - after all, that's what their business is all about and that's what makes them profitable. However, there are difficult situations related to stolen or lost packages and file claims do happen. Therefore, it is worth posting a dedicated shipping policy on the store's website in an easily accessible place.

It should contain information such as the time of dispatch, which courier company you use, the duration of delivery - and other things related to the shipping process, including providing contact details to the consultant or chat with whom You will be able to contact us should any shipping issue require further clarification.

Head of Marketing at Linker Cloud who gained experience in the insurance and tech industry. She also has a marketing agency perspective.

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