how to safely ship fragile items

Arka Guide: How To Safely Ship Fragile Items

Your mother was admiring a porcelain vase when she went shopping with you last week. You decided it would make the perfect Mother’s Day gift, and have just shipped it to her.

Now, here you are, sitting biting your nails. What if it reaches her in pieces? Not only will she be super upset over the broken vase and the wasted effort, but you’ll also have to go through the ordeal of having it returned!

Shipping fragile items can be very stressful. No company wants their product to reach the customer in a mangled or broken condition. No matter how premium the shipping carrier is, the odd bump, the unexpected drop and the sudden swerve are all unavoidable and can wreak havoc.

It becomes imperative, therefore, to pack your item as securely as possible. Here are some crucial pointers to help ensure your fragile items reach their destination in one piece.

Box of The Right Size - The Two Inch Rule

The normal tendency when packing a fragile item is to choose a box that is noticeably larger than the item so that the item is not crushed. However, if the box is much larger, it may leave the item vulnerable, since the padding is likely to shift when the box is handled.

A larger box will also push up your shipping and handling costs. Choosing a box that is just right is also not advisable since it does not leave enough space for padding.

The ideal box is one that has a space of two inches on all four sides. So, place the item or items as you would like the receiver to see them when unboxed. Then measure the dimensions from side to side for length, front to back for the width and top to bottom for the height.  

Now add two inches each to the length, breadth, and height, and you have the size of the box that is safest and cost-effective for your items. The two inches are enough for adequate padding and not too large to cause the filling to move around.

The Right Material for Your Box

Another common tendency is to use thinner material for boxes, because it is less expensive. While this may save costs in the short run, it may damage both the products and your reputation in the long term. 

Packages are handled several times by different people. Not all of them are mindful of the fragile goods within the box. Boxes made from thinner material may not be able to withstand the pushes and pulls of the delivery process. 

Prudence lies in choosing a thick and sturdy material even if it is more expensive. The increased cost is but an investment that will ensure a return in the form of lower product returns and higher customer loyalty.

Pack The Item Intelligently 

Every piece has its own contours. Ensure that every part of the article is supported. Fill the holes, hollows, and openings with crumpled newspaper. Fasten lids and other moving parts with tape. Then wrap the whole item up in a layer of bubble wrap. 

Feel free to add yet another layer if the item is ultra-fragile like porcelain or crystal and secure the bubble wrap with Scotch tape or packing tape. Packing tape is firm and is not very easy to remove. So resist the temptation of using too much, just so that you feel reassured. No one likes to open a package that has reams of Scotch tape to peel off.

Pad The Inside of the Box

Once you have wrapped the item, place a layer of padding at the bottom of the box and then place the item inside. Remember, you have left two inches free on all sides, including the height, just for this. Pad these two inches on all the four sides and the top, with crumpled paper, bubble wrap, or even cloth. This way the item will be snug and stationary, even when mishandled. 

Tuck in all the flaps and check if the box is bulging on any side. If it is, then rearrange or remove some padding so that the box does not bulge. The custom box is now ready to be fastened with packing custom tape.

Label The box "FRAGILE" 

Once the item has been packed, placed and padded, fasten all the flaps of the box securely with Packing Tape. Then take a marker, write the word FRAGILE in big and bold letters, and highlight it with a robust highlighter. This is very important because, despite the warning, packages do fall and items do get damaged. But when the packaging carries the warning, the onus is on the shipping agency to ensure its safety, and it can be held solely responsible for any damages. 

Choosing The Shipping Carrier 

Finally, choosing a reliable shipping agency for your fragile item is very important. 

Look through the websites of shipping agencies. Pick out a large agency with adequate infrastructure and a plan that suits your item the best. A plan tailored for Fragile items will not provide a 100% guarantee against any damage, but it will certainly ensure that the package is shipped carefully with other fragile items. 

So, if you are choosing to ship your fragile item via USPS or United States Postal Service, or even UPS, you could ensure that the package is affixed with the sticker "Special Handling - Fragile."


Offer In-Store Pickup at Checkout

By providing in-store pickup as a shipping option to your customers, you can decrease costs, time, and losses from failed delivery attempts.  Leveraging buy online, pick up in-store (BOPUS) into your order fulfillment strategy is also a common way for customers to avoid porch pirates and feel more secure about orders that contain fragile items. 

Even if your store doesn't have a physical location, you can offer alternative pickup by participating in the UPS Access Point ® program or by using FedEx Hold at Location services. With these shipping methods, your customers can choose to gather their packages from thousands of retail locations nationwide at a time that fits their own schedule. 

Part of this experience should also include showing estimated delivery dates whenever possible. If there's manufacturing or production time that factors into delivery, make sure you configure lead times, blackout dates and cut-off times into your shipping strategy. One way to do this is by using a storefront shipping management system like ShipperHQ. They make it easy to create rules and restrictions that impact the shipping rates and delivery options you show customers. They also give you the ability to customize your checkout with offerings like an in-store or alternative pickup.


While these are broad thumb rules, how you should pack and ship a fragile item depends on the item itself. The mantra, therefore, is to customize the box and packing based on the item and the distance it needs to be shipped. 

Arka provides customized packing solutions no matter how fragile the item is. Regardless of variations in size, Arka boxes are compact, sturdy, and safe. You can check our high-quality custom shipper boxes or custom mailer boxes.

You can even custom design your own packaging on our website at prices that are simply too good to miss. 

Don’t hesitate toget in touchand find out more!

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