Driven by forces like a fast-growing world population and the fact that vehicles are staying on the road longer than ever before, the global automotive aftermarket is growing rapidly. In fact, it is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2022 according to Global Industry Analysts.
If you are an online auto parts retailer, that’s surely great news to hear. However, as your sales volumes rise, it becomes increasingly clear that you face significant challenges when it comes to packaging and shipping your merchandise.
Why Automotive Aftermarket Parts are Difficult to Ship
To keep capitalizing on market growth, you’ve got to ensure that your merchandise continues to arrive at its destination undamaged and in packaging that creates a positive first impression.
As a first step, consider just what it is that makes automotive aftermarket parts so hard to ship in the first place. Then address those challenges.
The characteristics of auto parts known to create packaging and shipping challenges include:
- Large and heavy. How will your packaging support items like tires and engine components that can weigh hundreds of pounds? How will you box items that may not be excessively heavy but are big in size? You need to have good answers to these questions to ensure that your pick and pack operations are efficient and that the items arrive to the customer in good condition.
- Irregularly shaped. Items like bumpers don’t fit well into any standard-size carton. Will you use a box large enough to accommodate the bumper and simply fill all the empty space with packing material? Or, will you have a shipping carton custom made?
- Unevenly weighted. Some automotive parts pose interesting challenges because they are much heavier on one end than the other. As you pack them, you have to consider how they will be lifted and moved safely by your team and the shipper.
- Easily scratched. When the customer opens a package to look at the item they’ve ordered that is finished in gleaming chrome, the last thing they want to see is an ugly scratch. These kinds of parts need to be handled with special care and properly covered and padded in the carton.
- Fragile. At the other end of the spectrum from the large, heavy items you may sell, are the smaller and more fragile components. It’s critical that you protect them properly to avoid costly returns.
And, of course, as you look at the list above, it’s clear that adding to the “degree of difficulty” in shipping automotive parts is the variety of items that many retailers sell—large to small, nearly indestructible to very breakable, and everything in between.
Fortunately, there are packing best practices that cover items of all kinds. These strategies include using durable, lightweight, corrugated cartons to help protect items while keeping shipping weights down.
And for sealing those cartons, strong water-activated tape (WAT) that creates a physical bond with the carton’s surface is an excellent choice. Not only can WAT seal packages with one neat strip, it can be printed with your logo or other branding elements to help generate brand awareness.
The Final Challenge: Selecting the Right Shipper
No discussion of shipping challenges would be complete without mentioning that choosing the right shipper is critical.
Will they handle your packages with care? Do they meet their time commitments, especially with rush shipments?
There are many resources online that you can use to evaluate shippers and select the one (or ones) that will best meet your needs.