Handle With Care: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Fragile Items

Shipping goods is usually the most tedious part of the buying and selling process. Whether you’re running an e-commerce business, or you’re interested in shipping a fragile one-off item, it’s important to know the best way to ship fragile items. After all, the last thing that you want to do is to risk something being broken on the way from A to B. The best way to minimise the risk of this is to make sure that your items are properly wrapped and marked. Which is what we’ve got for you here - the ultimate guide to shipping fragile items, and we’ll talk you through what is considered fragile, the materials that you need, and some of the best tips and tricks to making sure your parcel arrives safely.‍

July 2, 2019
Jani Moisiola

What do we consider fragile?

When it comes to fragile goods, they are essentially any items which need slightly more care and attention when shipping. Either because they are particularly delicate, or because they’re difficult to replace. This can include everything from musical instruments to expensive antiques. The good news is that when it comes to packing the items correctly, the same general rules apply.

What should I use for packing?

It’s important to make sure that you have a rigid box or outer shell.

You might be tempted to try and fit your fragile item in the smallest possible box size - it’s important to make sure that this isn’t your priority. In terms of size, you want to make sure that you have enough space between the item and the box, to include enough padding.

Then you want to make sure you have strong tape, a shipping label, and plenty of bubble wrap or packing nuts. If you have both, that’s definitely the most preferable way to ensuring that your fragile item is safe.

What’s the best way to pack the item?

Carefully wrap your fragile item in a layer of bubble wrap. This will give you an extra layer of protection between your fragile item.

Next, put the item in the box or outer shell.

Then you can have the fun part - you want to make sure that you don’t have any empty space left in the box. Fill every spare part with the packing materials so that the item can’t move freely around the box. Remember that your main aim here is to make sure that this object remains as still as possible, even when it’s going through transit.

It’s a good idea to put an extra address label inside of the package. This is a smart extra step in case the address label on the outside falls off at any point.

Then seal up the box using the H-taping method. This is where you run tape along the corners of the box, and then a solid piece of tape along the middle, making it into an H-shape. This means that every open seam on the box is covered.

Top Tips for Safe Shipping


Be smart with your packing choices

The most important part of wrapping up your items is making sure that you have the right packing items. If you’ve ever wondered why people prefer boxes, it’s because they make it a much easier way to keep your delicate items safe.

That being said, you don’t want a box that’s too big for your goods. You want to make sure that the box you choose is big enough that you can get the protective packaging around the item, but not so big that it will bounce around the box.

Wrap it up well

Making sure that you have the right packing materials is the number one way to ensure that your fragile item arrives in one piece. It’s worth spending time and money on getting a large roll of bubble wrap so that you don’t find yourself having to compromise.

Packing peanuts are also really helpful if you have a less than conventionally shaped item. These allow you to gently fill in the gaps without applying any kind of pressure to the fragile parts of the item.

It’s a good idea to make sure that you’ve wrapped the item in a layer of bubble wrap first. This gives an extra layer of protection - you want to make sure you’re being careful.


Be mindful of the elements

When it comes to protecting your fragile goods, you might be thinking about how best to protect a box that’s going to be thrown around, dropped, or just carelessly handled. However, it’s important to make sure that you’ve also considered the other great destroyer of parcels: the weather. Rain, storms, snow, and puddles can all damage the box that your item is carried in.

If your parcel is going a long way, it’s important to consider how moisture can affect or threaten your fragile package. If in doubt, consider a plastic bag or shrink-wrap in order to stop moisture from getting into the parcel.


Security is your friend

There are plenty of options you can choose from when it comes to how you package up your fragile items. The bottom line, however, is that those protective materials need to stay exactly where they are, all through the parcel’s journey. If you want your fragile item to arrive in one piece, it’s important to use secure packing materials that help keep everything as steady as possible.

It’s helpful here to consider packing tape to keep things in place, zip-up bags, and the right kinds of packing materials.


Not too tight

You want to ensure that you’ve wrapped your goods securely, without them being wrapped too tightly. Putting too much pressure on the fragile items - especially if they’re something like glassware or delicate antiques - can increase the likelihood of them being broken or damaged during transit.

Instead, wrap them in a secure but loose fashion. That might sound vague, but you want to make sure there isn’t too much tension on the items when you wrap them up - that way they’re less likely to suffer.ap them.


Don’t skimp on tape

We’ve already mentioned the H-taping technique, but don’t be fooled into thinking you only need a few lines of tape. In most cases you’ll find it makes more sense to use more tape rather than less - you don’t want to spend all of your time and energy on making sure that the fragile item is protected, only to (literally) have it come undone because you didn’t have enough tape.

Instead, make sure you’re using high-quality packing tape, and that when using the H method on your box that you’re covering all potential openings in the box. This is a great way to make sure that the parcel will remain in tip-top condition.


The farther it goes, the more packaging

Think about this logically. The more miles your parcel has to travel, the more times it’s going to be handled. This means there are more opportunities for it to be dropped, exposed to the weather, or dinged around. So if your parcel has the opportunity to be exposed to a longer journey, consider adding an extra layer of packaging and tape. This will help it stay safe through the entire journey.


Careful labelling

This might sound like a no-brainer, but when it comes to making sure that your fragile items are treated carefully, it helps to let the people handling your package know that it’s fragile. Not only do you want to make sure that the delivery address is clearly labelled on all sides, but also that you have marked that the box is fragile. This means that your mail carriers and those working in the depots don’t risk missing a small “Fragile” and instead know that this needs a little more care.

It’s also helpful to specify which way up your parcel should be, if that’s important for the contents. If you regularly ship out goods like this, you might also consider buying some stickers or a stamp to use on your packages.


Best to be insured

You can try your absolute hardest, and package your delicate item to within an inch of its life, but eventually, there is going to be a point where the package is out of your control. While this lack of control might feel uncomfortable, one way around this discomfort is to make sure that the goods inside are insured. PArticularly if you are shipping items of high value - whether because they’re expensive or irreplaceable - buy yourself some peace of mind by making sure that the goods are insured. Like careful packaging, you want to prepare for the worst, while hoping it doesn’t happen!


Did you enjoy this blog post? Take a look at the posts The Challenges of Fresh Produce Logistics and Logistics of Wine and Fine Beverages as well.

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