Bulky furniture presents unique shipping challenges, but they’re ones you can tackle with a bit of time and patience. In our experience creating packaging for many unique, heavy items, there are some standard best practices to keep things safe. Here are five of our best tips.
1. Package around the furniture
It’s tempting to make furniture fit a box that you’ve already got, but that can be dangerous to products and harder to manage costs. Always start with the furniture in its most secure position and build your box around it – including infill and foam padding. Security is number one.
Once you’ve constructed the padding and any framing around your furniture, then you’ll want to find an appropriate box that fits. If you’re not buying specific boxes for each piece or sell unique items – consider tools that allow you to create cardboard boxes of a specific size. This will help you avoid cramming furniture into a small box or leaving too much extra space that can increase damage risks or cost.
2. Use a heavyweight box
There’s a lot of focus on the filler materials and packaging designed to go around bulky furniture, but don’t forget to strengthen the box itself. Heavy products and those with bulky edges need the strongest cardboard boxes you can find to ensure they’re secure as they move.
Yes, it will add extra weight and ultimately extra cost. However, appropriately protecting the furniture you ship can reduce the chance of returns, exchanges, or having to re-send components. Reducing just a few of those instances each quarter can save many companies significantly.
Part of box selection is also getting a box that offers protection for every edge. Reinforce it straps around the outside if you need greater security and improve the overall handling of bulky or odd-shaped items.
3. Pack flat when possible
Some bulky furniture can be disassembled. When that’s possible, do it and pack the item flat. This can potentially reduce some shipping costs while making it easier for your team and customers to handle. Flatpack is also generally easier to secure and prevent harm during transit. You’ll also need less infill. When that isn’t possible for the entire product, remove elements like legs and feet to minimize bulk and box size.
This method is best when you’re shipping to a location you own, like a local warehouse, or if you pair your services with local installers and assembly techs. Not only does offering local assembly help your customers, but you might also get referrals from the companies you work with who do the assembly. Ultimately, it’s a potential for savings with smaller boxes and less damage in transit, plus a potential new referral source.
4. Look at pallets and bulk options
If you’re not manufacturing the bulky furniture at the same location you ship from, start the product’s journey in bulk. Ship components in groups and work to palletize them, allowing you to get freight rates from carriers while ensuring greater protection.
From there, you have two main options. Use your warehouse for assembly and final shipping to customers so that you’ve controlled costs on inbound shipping. You can also consider shipping products in bulk to locations where your core customers can pick them before assembly. This works well if you have a brick-and-mortar store or a third-party receiving location close to the customer’s home.
You can often give customers a small price discount to pick up the furniture and get it home themselves, which will cut down your costs for the larger boxes and shipping costs.
5. Remember DIM weight
One of the most significant company factors in shipping bulky furniture is cost. Your company will work to optimize packaging for cost and safety with the tips above. However, the business side needs reliable ways to predict costs and prepare as you expand to more markets and locations.
We recommend using a DIM weight calculator for each product you ship to determine your shipping’s actual cost. Bulky furniture doesn’t always mean heavy, so you might pay more based on the dimensions of what you ship than its weight.
You’ll find some differences in carrier charges and benefits – especially if you move to freight options or need higher insurance – and running these calculators can help you plan appropriately. It’s also a smart way to test and see if you could save by shipping products in multiple boxes. Sometimes, splitting furniture into its parts can ultimately give you a lower overall cost.
Good luck, and remember to protect everything appropriately to minimize the chance for damage and returns.
About the Author:
Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment provider. Every day, Jake uses his extensive knowledge of business development and eCommerce experience to help Red Stag Fulfillment better serve its eCommerce clients. In his free time, Jake can be found reading about the latest trends in business and sharing his experience with others.