Letting customers choose the shipping container

01Feb10

Several years ago, I bought a periodic table poster to hang on the wall. It was advertised as being high-quality, with a laminated coating. Well, the poster arrived in good shape, but there was one problem: they shipped it rolled up in a tube. And no matter how many days I let it sit flat on the floor with big, heavy books on each corner, it never stayed flat. Indeed, after hanging on the wall for years, it still shows the damage from spending a few short days in a tube.

I understand why the seller mailed it that way. Shipping a tube is probably cheaper than a flat box. But here’s the rub: they never told me how it was going to be shipped, or gave me the option to send it another way at an additional cost. A lot of retailers make this same mistake, and I’m sure it leads to more returns and lower customer satisfaction.

In short, if there’s more than one type of shipping container you can use when sending an order, and the choice of container is likely to make a big difference when it comes to damage in transit, you have two options. Ideally, you would just use the more trouble-free container every time. But if that’s not possible due to cost or other factors, then tell customers what their options are. For those buyers who really care about the condition of what they’re receiving, a few extra bucks for the better shipping container will be money well spent.



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