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4 tips to reduce cargo damage and save money on shipping costs

cargo damageShipping damage is a massive threat to any products that travel on the supply chain.

As per a Statista survey, eighty per cent of consumers say they’d return a product they received that was damaged in shipping.

The more your products get damaged in shipping, the more money your company loses and the effects of that loss can spread throughout your organization, causing both direct and indirect expenses and affecting sales.

But if you can reduce cargo and shipping damage, you can cut shipping costs. Other departments of your organization will also save money and function more efficiently, too. With the right packaging, strategy, and tools, you can cut shipping costs by as much as 60%.


Choose Packaging and Pallets Carefully

Everything from the packaging materials you use within boxes to the boxes themselves, pallets, wrap, and containers should be chosen based on the level of protection your cargo needs.

Use the right packing materials to fill in empty space inside boxes, so that contents don’t slide around and collide with other objects, or get squashed when packed onto a truck.

Choose padding material carefully airbags, bubble wrap, or protective foam moulds are ideal for delicate items, as are corrugated inserts.

Pallets should be structurally sound and unwarped, slightly larger than the footprint of your cargo, and made of the appropriate material — wood, metal, or plastic. Seal pallets with high-quality, water-resistant wrap, or choose one that protects against light as well as humidity.


Fill Containers Wisely

When it comes to filling containers and stacking pallets, empty space is the enemy. The more space items have to roll or shift around, whether in the box or on the pallet, the more likely they are to sustain damage.

Fill empty space in boxes with the right fill packaging, and use the right box size so that there isn’t too much space inside the box for the contents to shift around.

Stack pallets correctly, putting heavy goods on the bottom and stacking boxes in an overlapping brick pattern. Create cube-shaped shipping units rather than stacking smaller boxes on top to create a pyramid shape.

Do not double-stack pallets, especially if the items stacked at the top of some pallets are fragile.

The top of your shipping unit should be as flat as possible, and there should be no loose, individual boxes at the top of the pallet. Cargo should be strapped down to the pallet as well as being tightly wrapped in an appropriate wrapping.

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Use Damage Indicators

Damage indicators can help you identify the points along the supply chain at which your cargo endures the greatest levels of stress from impacts and vibrations, so you can make choices that mitigate those factors.

For example, cargo shipped via air may experience extended periods of vibration you could use vibrating monitors to discover exactly how much vibration, and use that information to choose a different shipping method that wouldn’t subject the cargo to the same level of stress.

Start with shock testing to gather data about your normal shipping routes. You’ll see how much overall impact and vibration stress your shipments face en route, and you’ll be able to make changes to the specific parts of your supply chain that are causing the most damage.

You can also test different packaging materials and strategies, and get quantifiable data about how much better, or worse, different routes, shipping methods, and packaging are for the contents of your boxes and pallets.

You can substantially cut shipping costs when you know exactly where damage is occurring, and why.


Make Labels Clear

If you are shipping delicate or expensive items, make that clear on your packaging labels and on your bill of lading. Labels should be printed on durable paper and should contain information about how much weight can be placed on top of a package without damaging it.

This information will help handlers protect your shipping units from damage. Clear, durable labels will also ensure that your items get where they’re going intact and promptly.

Shipping damage can be a huge threat to revenues because damaged goods and merchandise usually can’t be sold.

But you can exercise more control over shipping and cargo damage than you might be aware as long as you have the right tools at your disposal.

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Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. It is one of the best write up on the 4 tips to reduce cargo damage and save money on shipping costs. Before hitting on the other blogs I would request all to give a try here to get the best available content here. I must say this is one of the best among them. You have done a great research for I feel, thanks for sharing. The article is much informative regarding work as well.

  2. Great article! I would like to add that the penny saved on packaging, is sometimes the many dollars spent on addressing the cost of shipping the damaged product back; the replacement product and the return shipping, when a little extra time and effort can result in a load that you would be proud to receive – and that should be the standard to aim for, not ‘how little money will it take to make it on board the truck’.

    At Pack King, we offer a free service to anyone who has doubts about how to ship their products. If you are not professional, then call a professional up. Most times, they don’t charge for their advice – unless you are calling them in to completely overhaul your processes.

    Just one tip alone can save damage and returns. Wrap the stretch wrap around and under the corners of the load. You would be surprised how much difference it makes to unitize the load TO the pallet rather than sitting ON TOP of it.

    Ron Mileham. MD.
    Pack King. Melbourne.

  3. Very relevant article and I would like to add, what I think ,is an often overlooked consideration.
    The outer packaging is the first thing your ,often new, customer sees. This is their first impression of you.

    We are export packers so we see this a lot.No more so than in Switzerland.Here real value and money is apportioned to the packaging.
    It helps prevents claims , which are costly , provides customer satisfaction.Repeat business.Essentially improves bottom line.

    In South Africa our mind set is more” how little we can spend on packaging” that is the norm.
    Are we getting it right…….not if you consider that export packing in Switzerland is a R3BN business,[ that is not the product given its land area it shows what can be done

    Rgds Owen Bottomley
    MD Cargo Handling Specialists


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