1. Overview of Dunnage in eCommerce
Statistics have shown that 1 out of 10 packages arrive to customers in a damaged condition. This clearly establishes the criticality of packing products correctly, with the right material and storing them safely. But do you think the integrity of a package is just based on making use of the right material to wrap it and store it safely? Well, think again. There are several factors like friction, speed, movement, temperature, etc. that can cause damage to the product inside the package while shipping.
In this respect, dunnage is what helps you package better. Dunnage isn’t a word you’d come across in everyday conversations with regular people. But if you’re an eCommerce seller, you must get yourself familiar with it, since it’s going to be your lifesaver when trying to deliver safely.
Now if you’re not acquainted with this term, worry not, because that’s exactly why we’re here. Listed below is a complete overview of what exactly dunnage is, what are its uses and benefits, and what are the different types of dunnage available.
2. What is Dunnage?
To put it simply, dunnage is the padding material that is added to a package so as to ensure that it is secure in place and doesn’t get damaged during transit. Naturally, if it’s supposed to protect products, it is supposed to be durable. This is why it is made out of material that can provide cushioning and protection to the product.
The term dunnage is often used in cargo shipping. Such ships always have a floor lined with packaging materials, especially dunnage, to protect the products when they are being transported across long distances. When packaging eCommerce products, dunnage is usually in the form of air pockets, plastic films, as well as wood and jute coverings.
Dunnage is generally added as a stuffing between the packaging material and the product. A product can only successfully and safely be packed if it has got sufficient dunnage with the right packaging material.
3. Why is Dunnage important?
As mentioned earlier, dunnage is important for the safety of the products being transported. Let’s explore its importance for eCommerce businesses.
3.1) Moisture absorption
Moisture absorption is the primary and one of the most important rules of eCommerce dunnage. If your product is likely to get damaged due to moisture, then you must cushion it with some material that blocks or absorbs moisture. Hygroscopic material is one material that quickly absorbs moisture.
3.2) Distribution of weight
Sometimes the packaging is more significant than the product itself. In that case, you will have to ensure there is only an appropriate amount of stuffing in the package to equally distribute the weight, otherwise, the product is bound to topple over.
3.3) Shock resistance
One of the most common concerns while transporting goods through the road is the shocks the product faces en route. This is why while shipping a fragile item, it is important to add dunnage to the package to protect it and ensure it safely reaches its destination.
3.4) Air circulation
Some products may require air circulation, if not, the product will leave a foul odor when opened. For instance, clothing packages need ample air circulation within the package to maintain their fresh smell. With the help of dunnage, you can easily pack the shipment with both safety and air circulation.
3.5) Tamper-proof packaging
With the use of dunnage, there is less stress on the packaging and it becomes easier to protect the product from wear and tear. As a result, when the customer finally receives the product, it is in perfect condition. Dunnage assists in balancing the internal and external forces, to absorb any shocks, keeping both product and the package safe.
4. What are the uses of Dunnage?
Now that we have understood what exactly dunnage is and why it is important, let’s take a look at where exactly it can be used:
- To secure the shipment.
- To prevent the cargo items from shifting.
- To separate the cargo.
- To evenly distribute the weight in a package.
- To provide air spaces for effective ventilation.
- To prevent and block water and other liquids from entering the cargo.
5. What are the key benefits of Dunnage?
By adding dunnage to your packaging, your business can benefit in the following ways:-
5.1) Protection of goods
As mentioned above, the main objective of dunnage is to protect the package from any damage it is likely to receive during transportation from the warehouse to the customer. During the transit, the goods are loaded onto trucks or trains, stacked on top of each other, and often handled slightly roughly, leaving room for damage. Dunnage limits these chances by absorbing the shock, keeping the product moisture-free, and ensuring that the goods are intact during transportation.
5.2) Protection of revenue
Damaged products are sure to ruin your reputation in the market. Additionally, if your customers receive damaged goods you will have to provide a refund or replace the product. This will only cause further losses to your business. However, if you use proper dunnage and protect the packages, then there will be reduced damage and it will indirectly contribute to increasing your sales. Moreover, dunnage is cost-efficient, reusable and a good investment.
5.3) Reduced labor costs
Providing a specific dunnage usage guide to the packaging team will go a long way in helping the labor force work efficiently. This in turn will help the laborers pack more items each day, and in turn reduce your labor costs. It will also help provide a better return on investment to your business in the long run.
6. What are the different types of Dunnage?
Plastic is generally used in shipping materials of high value or products that are fragile and require a secure packaging procedure. It is typically used as a secondary layer of packaging for the product to ensure that it stays safe and damage-free during transit.
6.2) Bubble wrap
This is generally used for securing items made of fragile materials like glass and crystals. The bubbles absorb any shock that the product may face, and it is also reusable.
Wood is used to create small partitions between different objects. If you are sending items with more than one critical piece to assemble, then wood can be used to create sections and separate the pieces from each other. This in turn makes the package steady and prevents it from shifting.
6.4) Foam nuts
Foam nuts are generally added in courier bags to make them seem for filling. Typically, you would see foam nuts when electronics, shop pieces, or sensitive equipment are being shipped.
6.5) Cardboard paper
Cardboard is generally used when transporting heavy items because it can withstand a significant amount of weight and help safeguard the items against moisture. Additionally, since cardboard is mainly composed of paper, it can be used as a sustainable packaging option for most eCommerce products.
6.6) Craft paper
Craft paper is eco-friendly and one of the cheapest options for business dunnage. It is generally crinkled and stuffed between the spaces in your package to ensure there is an effective protection against shock.
6.7) Air pillows
Air pillows are generally small plastic bags filled with air, and are most commonly used while shipping small items to provide cushioning for the product. They are also commonly used to fill space within a box for equal weight distribution.
Thermocol is not commonly used as dunnage and is only suitable for shipping big items like fridges and televisions. It is used in a combination with foam sheets to provide more cushioning between the product and the packaging.
7. Final Conclusion
Dunnage is a small yet vital element of packaging for an eCommerce business. It comes in various forms and is mostly used to protect the cargo during transit. By adding dunnage to your packaging, you can reduce labor costs, protect your goods better, and offer the best to your customers. Dunnage is cost-effective, is available in sustainable options, and is reusable.