6 Main Causes of eCommerce Shipping Damage and How to Prevent It

Except for ordering or receiving the wrong size item, a damaged or defective product is the number one reason a customer will return an item. Unfortunately, damaged goods are all part of doing business as an eCommerce. Online returns cost retailers an average of 21% of the overall order value. You can reduce returns and improve customer service scores by focusing on minimizing shipping damage. There are a few practical and cost-effective ways to increase the chances your package arrives in excellent condition. Here are six main causes of eCommerce shipping damage and how to prevent it.

6 Main Causes for eCommerce Shipping Damage

Improper Packaging

Suppose the package selected to ship your product is too big or too small, the probability of damage increases. When a box is too large, the product has more room to shift and move in transit. If it is not shock-proof, the likelihood of damage goes up. Similarly, if a package is too small, the product has limited cushioning and is more easily crushed, scratched, or dented. There is a “Goldilocks” size for every product. A box or bag that is not too big and not too small; it’s “just right.”

Incorrect or Inadequate Filler

Failing to wrap or insulate the package with enough filler will result in more movement during transit. Furthermore, selecting a protective filler that isn’t appropriate can also increase the likelihood of damage. For example, shipping a bone china tea cup unwrapped and tucked into loose packing peanuts is a recipe for disaster.

Poor Handling

Your product will be jostled, tossed, stacked, shoved, and moved in ways you never could imagine. Products travel through various machines, conveyors, delivery vehicles, and people before they reach their final destination. Even when eCommerce fulfillment teams do their absolute best to package a product, it can still absorb shipping damage due to a lack of proper handling. Whether your delivery driver is just having a bad day or they had to make a hairpin turn last minute to avoid a stray dog, your package can take a tumble.

Mislabeled or Improperly Sealed

Not every transportation employee will heed the “Fragile” stickers affixed to packaging, but many do. Not adding a label at all can mean the difference between someone tossing your package on the front porch and carrying it there. Another common cause of eCommerce shipping damage is poor sealing. When the adhesive cannot hold the weight or has lost its ability to keep a box closed damage is bound to occur.

Failing to Track or Inspect Shipments

Many eCommerce businesses get so busy they fail to implement inspections along the fulfillment journey. Your product is passed along and if there are not quality control inspections along the way it is difficult to narrow down where the most shipping damages occur.


Pests can ruin everything. While beetles, cockroaches, and birds are typical varmints found in warehouses the main perpetrator are rats. Rodents can chew through almost any variety of materials and use many types of packing materials to build their nests. They damage boxes, plastic and fiber tie downs and more. Weak, chewed up, and damaged corrugated packaging cannot withstand the same weight or transit stress as a perfect one.

6 Main Solutions for eCommerce Shipping Damage 

Right-size Packaging

Right-size packaging uses the appropriate materials, quantity, and size to protect a product and showcase a brand well. Right-size packaging ensures the proper dimensions to minimize shipping damage, and it saves money on shipping costs. Carriers charge based on weight and dimensions so getting the balance between protecting the product without paying for extra airspace is vital. Here are 4 ways that right-size packaging can boost profitability.

Correct Type and Amount of Filler

After getting the package size correct, the next tip to reduce eCommerce shipping damage is to select the right type and amount of dunnage. Dunnage is any packing material used to protect goods during shipping. There is a plethora of void fill and protective packaging materials to choose from. Many eCommerce companies are shifting their packing materials to sustainable choices. Our sustainable packaging guide can help you select the most eco-friendly materials to limit shipping damage.

Test Your Packaging Before Shipping

It might seem silly to package a product and then drop it off a 4ft cliff, but that is precisely what can make the difference between a refund and a 5-star review. Put your packaging to the test by shaking it, dropping it, banging it, rolling it, vibrating it, and torturing it as many ways as possible. If your product maintains pristine quality after rigorous trials, you can be assured your product should arrive with minimal shipping damage.

Use Quality Sealing Tape or Adhesive

Select high-quality sealing tape that is rated to hold the weight of your product. Also, ensure all edges are aligned and sealed fully to prevent snags.

Inspect Regularly

From the receiving dock to the final mile delivery it is important to document damage and shortages. Keeping a record of manufacturing damage can help you work with your vendor to modify shipping or packaging to minimize damage. Furthermore, if you are using a carrier that consistently delivers packages that are sustaining damage it can tell you it’s time to change. Track damage sustained including images of damage through the entire fulfillment process.


Keeping a regular schedule of extermination in your storage and warehousing facility is crucial to keep pests away. Limiting access points and sealing all food items well will also keep from attracting bugs, beetles, and flies. It isn’t possible to keep pests from entering an open door but you can minimize shipping damage from them by ensuring you exterminate regularly and seal boxes fully. 

The main causes of eCommerce shipping damage are not difficult to prevent but they do require attention to detail. Many eCommerce business owners have restricted time and energy to focus on ensuring they have the best possible packaging, materials, and inspection procedures. This is why partnering with a fulfillment expert like Falcon Fulfillment can help minimize shipping damage. Not only can we select the best shipping options for your product but we also ensure the highest quality standards for handling, cleanliness, and accuracy. Get in touch today to see how we can help save you money on shipping damage returns.

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