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How to Reduce the Potential of Damaged Freight

02.07.2019 | By AJ Todd | 4 min. read

The specter of damaged freight  can weigh heavily on most shipper’s minds. Implementing strategies to reduce damaged freight is an important way to reduce your overall shipping costs. Most shippers fail to adequately realize how much of an impact damaged freight is having on their total shipping costs. Although you don’t have control over every avenue through which your goods may be damaged, there are some strategies you can employ to reduce the likelihood that your products will be damaged in transit.

Why Bother?

Many shippers understand that damaged freight is going to happen, and simply incorporate those losses into their cost of doing business. Although it is true that some aspects of freight damage are largely outside of your control, there remain important steps that you can take to reduce the amount of freight damage you incur. Despite this, many shippers  fail to take these steps. This is due to the fact that they fail to recognize the important ways that damaged freight can impact their business.

The first and most obvious benefit of taking steps to reduce your freight damage is monetary. You’ll spend less money having to replace damaged goods if you take precautions. A second reason why you should reduce damaged freight is to increase customer satisfaction. Products damaged in-transit will have to be replaced, which can lead to disruptions in service for your customers and consequently result in flagging levels of customer satisfaction.

The easiest way to avoid these negative outcomes is to implement strategies to protect your freight in the first place. Many of the suggestions we’ll provide are simply shipping best practices that should always be in place for each of your shipments. While many shippers recognize that freight damage occurs, they don’t see how they can effectively reduce rates of freight damage. What they do see, however, is the result of damaged freight, which includes loss of business, higher loss rates associated with shipping, and decreased customer satisfaction as a result of freight damage. Avoiding these outcomes is essential for reducing freight loss, increasing efficiency, and maximizing your profits.

Pack Correctly

If you are experiencing high rates of freight damage, or you simply want to explore avenues to reduce instances of freight damage, you’ll want to focus your efforts on how you are packaging your shipments. Shipment packaging is an important factor in freight damage. Poorly packaged shipments are much more likely to be damaged in transit to the destination, regardless of the shipping method.

There are many reasons that packages can be poorly packaged. Most shippers choose packaging options that appear to be the most cost-effective on paper, without really giving more thought to how those packaging options translate to the security of your goods in transit. Others may not be correctly packaging their goods appropriately for the specific shipping method. Regardless of the reason, poor packaging is an area that can have a large impact on damaged freight, yet remains within the control of the shipper themselves. As such, improving your packaging is an important way that you can reduce your loss of goods due to freight damage.

Invest in Your Packaging

You may consider packing materials an extraneous cost. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that packing materials are a critical factor for securing and protecting your goods against damage while they are in transit. Rather than viewing packing materials as an added cost, consider them an investment in the security of your products. You will want to only use packing materials that are new. Although it can seem like a cost-saving to use packing materials more than once, this weakens the material itself and makes it much more likely your packing materials will fail. You should also ensure that your materials aren’t visibly damaged when you are preparing items for shipment. Damaged pallets, adhesives, cardboard, or retention straps have a higher rate of failure, so avoiding these should be a top priority.

While you will want to focus on using packing materials that are new and undamaged, you will also want to invest in packing materials that are higher-quality. This can include packaging and adhesives. Higher quality products that are purpose-built for shipping needs are able to withstand the rigorous journey associated with bringing your products to their destination. Even simple adjustments like switching out industrial strength adhesives for your run-of-the-mill packing tape can make a world of difference when it comes to getting your products to their destination intact.

Work With Your Third-Party Logistics Provider

One of the easiest ways to reduce the potential of damaged freight is to work closely with your third-party logistics provider (3PL). Your provider will be able to provide insight into the shipping methods that are appropriate for your specific goods and will understand the best ways to pack and move your products to avoid any damage. There are a large number of best-practices you will need to implement to ensure you are doing all you can to reduce freight damage. 3PL’s are subject-matter experts in this regard and should be utilized to ensure you are following and implementing all relevant best-practices for your shipping needs.

Although freight damage is often thought of as a cost of doing business, implementing shipping best practices is a way that most shippers can measurably reduce damaged freight. The impact of damaged freight isn’t just monetary. Rather, damaged freight can result in reputational harm, lower customer satisfaction, and disruption of service for your customers. Avoiding these negative outcomes is essential for ensuring ongoing profitability. Implementing shipping best-practices, such as utilizing new packaging, using appropriate packaging for your shipping method, correctly loading your shipments for your specific shipping type, and using high-quality packaging materials, is one avenue that you can use to reduce the occurrence of damaged freight.


  1. https://www.iopp.org/files/public/IoPPFreightShippingGuidelines.pdf
  2. https://cerasis.com/2017/03/27/freight-damage/

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