If you’re shipping ecommerce orders, you’re probably familiar with dunnage. Dunnage is the material used to secure items inside shipping packages. There are many benefits of using dunnage, but its chief function is ensuring customers receive products in an undamaged state.
Dunnage comes in a range of different materials. With a wide variety to choose from, each type with its own properties and benefits, it can be challenging to identify the optimal choice for your ecommerce business.
This article will provide an in-depth exploration of how to match the best type of dunnage to specific product categories. Whether you’re shipping fragile electronics, invaluable artwork, or heavy-duty industrial equipment, the appropriate dunnage selection is critical to guarantee your goods arrive undamaged.
Best Dunnage By Product Type
You should be using the best type of dunnage for each product your business ships. The list below will help you identify the best dunnage by type of product.
Best Dunnage for Cosmetics and Beauty
Cosmetic or beauty products often have delicate packaging. To protect these items, air pillows or bubble wrap can be used. This creates a protective layer that keeps the items in place and prevents damage. Kraft paper (or craft paper) is one of the more common types of dunnage used to fill empty spaces in packages which contain items with plastic or less fragile casings.
For high-end cosmetic or beauty brands, tissue paper adds a classy touch while protecting individual items. Using molded inserts can make the unboxing experience feel more luxurious.
This industry often prefers to use eco-friendly options to support sustainable brand values. This is something you might want to consider for your ecommerce business.
Best Dunnage for Healthcare and Supplements
Air pillows, foam packaging, and bubble wrap are excellent for safeguarding bottles and delicate items. Insulated foam packaging or thermal bubble wrap can help maintain product integrity for temperature-sensitive products like probiotics. Air pillows can be used to secure items that don’t fit easily into a standard box. For example, they can fill the corners and hold spherical protein powder containers in place.
For a more premium brand feel, paper inserts or molded pulp inserts can be used to elevate the unboxing experience for customers. These materials not only provide exceptional protection for healthcare products and supplements during transport, but they can also be completely customized in shape, color, and design. This type of custom dunnage can include product descriptions, usage instructions, or even personal messages to create memorable and high-end branding.
Best Dunnage for Furniture and Decorations
Foam sheets and foam edge protectors are great for shipping flat-pack furniture. Foam sheets can be placed between larger panels to prevent scratching and damage. Foam edge protectors can be used to safeguard corners and edges, which are particularly vulnerable.
A combination of dunnage works best for decorative items like framed artwork and mirrors. You can use foam corner protectors to cushion edges, a cardboard sheet to protect the glass face, and a generous amount of bubble wrap to keep that protection in place.
Best Dunnage for Glass and Ceramics
Given their fragility, glass and ceramic items must be packaged carefully and securely. Bubble wrap is ideal for wrapping individual delicate items. When packing fragile products with bubble wrap, ensure the bubbles are inside, touching the object. This will provide cushioning and protection.
Foam inserts are another good option for shipping glass and ceramic items. They can be custom-cut to fit the specific dimensions of your product and snugly encase each item in foam. This minimizes movement and vibration of the product during transit, reducing the possibility of chipping and other damage occurring. Remember to add dunnage inside for extra stability if you’re shipping a hollow item, like a ceramic jug or vase.
Best Dunnage for Toys
Corrugated paper can be used to create dividers inside of a package when shipping a toy that comes in multiple parts. Bubble wrap is another common dunnage choice for toys. Its flexibility makes it an ideal choice for protecting toys with odd shapes or protruding parts.
Air pillows are an economical way to fill any extra space in the shipping box. This is especially useful when packing flat or regularly shaped items, such as board games or dolls in their own boxes.
Best Dunnage for Jewelry and Accessories
When shipping jewelry, each item is often individually wrapped before being placed in a jewelry box or pouch. It is best to use soft, non-abrasive materials like tissue paper or bubble wrap to prevent scratches. For necklaces or other items that can tangle, it’s often best to place them in individual plastic bags after wrapping.
For a premium brand, use custom-made molded inserts fit for your jewelry to offer extra protection and integrate your branding.
Best Dunnage for Apparel and Footwear
Tissue paper is often used to wrap clothes, keep them clean, prevent wrinkles, and add a touch of luxury. Air pillows can fill any void space to prevent items from moving and wrinkling during shipping. Kraft paper can be folded up and used to help garments like shoes and hats retain their shape.
Best Dunnage for Food and Beverages
Food items, especially those that are temperature sensitive, might require special dunnage. Insulated bubble wrap can absorb shock and help maintain the necessary temperature. Foam dunnage can also act as insulation that can help maintain a consistent temperature inside the shipping box.
If food is being transported in a refrigerated vehicle, it’s important that the padding material used allows for air circulation. Good air circulation can help to maintain a consistent temperature within the packaging. This is especially important for temperature-sensitive items, such as food, where too much heat or cold can degrade their quality. Corrugated inserts have open flutes that allow air to circulate and can be custom-fit to your food or beverage product.
Best Dunnage for Books
Books can be easily damaged if not packaged properly. Corrugated cardboard provides a sturdy layer that prevents books from bending. Corrugated cardboard also offers moisture protection, ensuring the book stays in pristine condition. Air pillows can fill any empty space to prevent movement within the box.
Best Dunnage for Electronics
It is important to wrap items like laptops in anti-static bubble wrap or foam to prevent electrostatic discharge, which can harm electronic components. The bubble wrap or foam also cushions the electronic device, preventing scratches or hardware damage.
Custom foam inserts provide excellent protection and can be tailored to the dimensions of the item being shipped. Foam edge protectors are handy for safeguarding the vulnerable corners of items like televisions and monitors. Remember to add a foam sheet to shield any screens from scratches.
Best Dunnage for Tools and Equipment
Tools and equipment often have irregular shapes and can be heavy. Corrugated cardboard or foam sheets can provide cushioning, while molded pulp inserts can be used to secure individual items. For heavy tools, wood dunnage might be necessary for support.
Best Dunnage for Construction Materials
The construction industry often uses wooden dunnage to support and separate building materials, such as bricks, blocks, roofing materials, and flooring. Since wood is so sturdy, it can often be reused, reducing dunnage costs.
Best Dunnage for Automotive Parts
Shippers can use packing peanuts or molded foam packaging for individual smaller automotive parts. Corrugated cardboard dividers can separate items, and bubble wrap is used for delicate components. Steel and wood are used for high value shipping and can secure larger parts like engines, axles, transmissions, or body panels.
There are many different types of dunnage, and choosing the right kind for your business could get overwhelming. The type of dunnage used can have an impact on product damage and returns, your brand reputation, the unboxing experience, and shipping and packaging costs – so it’s important to get it right. A third-party logistics (3PL) partner can handle all aspects of order fulfillment for you, including choosing and storing dunnage.
At Shipfusion, we specialize in providing comprehensive logistics solutions, including sourcing the ideal dunnage for your unique product line. Our dedicated account managers understand dunnage and will work with you to figure out the best option for your business.
If you’re ready to learn more about finding a solution that optimizes your order fulfillment, book an appointment to speak with a Shipfusion fulfillment specialist today.