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How to Avoid Shipping Mistakes

Shipping is a vital element for any business that is involved in sending goods to customers. However, if not handled properly, it can result in significant losses for your business. Here are some of the common shipping mistakes you need to look out for:

1. Packaging items incorrectly

To ensure your product arrives at its destination intact, you need to ensure that it is packaged safely. For instance, if your product is fragile, you will need to use packaging which is very thick and shock absorbent. Ask the shipping company what mode of transportation will be used and how many times the package will be handled.


If you are shipping goods internationally, you need to understand the destination country’s policy concerning shipping containers. For example, there are countries which have regulations about wood packaging as a measure for controlling pests. Many countries have websites which offer details about their trade laws. You could also consider contracting a trade attorney or consultant who has expertise with the specific destination.

2. Choosing the wrong shipping company

No single shipping company can be the perfect solution for every situation. You need to select shipping vendors based on their expertise with the specific destination. This will ensure that your products arrive intact and on time, while meeting all the requirements. To establish if a vendor has the required expertise, find out how long they have been operating in the destination country. Which clients have they worked with in the past? Do they have an office in the country?

3. Not knowing who is shipping your products

When hiring the services of a shipping company, many people think that the actual shipping will be handled by the company. However, this is not always the case. At times, the contracted vendor will send the package to a different company which will then handle the shipping. This is likely to result in a significant delay in delivery. Therefore, before contracting a shipping vendor, find out if a third party will be used for the actual shipping. Carry out your research to find out the credibility of this third party.

4. Not checking your labels

Having incorrect or insufficient information on your packages can result in delayed delivery and higher shipping charges. It is therefore very important to verify all the details before shipping. For example, if the package contains any hazardous material, be sure to mention it. Make sure the contact details and address provided are correct. If you are not sure about the labeling requirements, take time to consult your shipping company.

5. Depending too much on your shipping provider

Shipping can be very complicated even for experienced entrepreneurs. However, don’t just depend on your vendors to educate you on shipping requirements. To keep up with the rapid changes in the industry, take time to read trade journals, magazines and websites on local and international shipping. It would also be advisable to attend webinars and events where you can interact personally with shipping experts.     

Shipping mistakes can be very costly for any business. However, with a little planning and research, you can significantly minimise the risks.  

Image: Franco Folini/Flickr