Ahh, sweet summertime! For most of us, warmer weather means nice beach days and some fun in the sun. But, if you’re a business owner that sells sensitive goods, a hot sunny day is the last thing you’re hoping for.
Though it’s not something that the majority of the eCommerce world worries about, a business that sells products that can be affected by heat will have to deal with a lot of variables. Without attention to certain factors, shipping perishable products can quickly become a sticky situation… literally.
While some companies resort to pausing shipments during the summer season, this model will not work for the majority of businesses. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to keep your store profitable year-round.
Which Products Need Extra Attention?
Beverages and Food
Does flat, hot wine sound appealing to you? What about mushy fruits and vegetables? Probably not, right? Aside from the obvious frozen or refrigerated items, there are many foods and beverages that need a little extra care before being shipped out — animal products and baked goods, for example, would top the list.
Fragrances and Lotions
All the beauty lovers out there probably already know this, but sunlight and heat don’t mix well with products that make you smell good. Fragrance, for instance, can be degraded by direct sunlight and heat can break down its chemical bonds. The same is possible for lotions, especially those with heat-sensitive oils.
Health and Medical Items
They say if you can’t handle the heat, you should stay out of the kitchen…. but don’t let health supplements hear that! Depending on the actual product, probiotics and gel pills can be quite sensitive to heat. Gel pills, in particular, can actually stick together in high temperatures — not the end of the world, but also not a great impression to make on your customers.
Marshmallows, gummies, caramels, and chocolate. What do all these sweets have in common? Besides being delicious, they’re extremely heat-sensitive. Chocolate in particular can be challenging to ship.
Of course, you know your product best. Before you take shipping precautions, it’s a great idea to speak with your manufacturer about your inventory and see what kind of considerations you’ll need to make. You might be surprised at how sturdy your products are or discover they’re a bit more finicky than you thought. Either way, doing some research never hurts!
Tips to Beat the Heat
While there is no cookie-cutter solution for shipping all perishable items in hot temperatures, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your products arrive safely and in the best possible condition.
1. Use Cold Packs
Sometimes, the simplest solution is truly the best one. Cold packs are miracle workers when it comes to keeping perishable products in good condition as they travel to their final destination. You can typically expect them to last between 24 to 48 hours, which is also perfect if you’re investing in fast shipping.
If you expect shipping to take longer, you can try cold shipping boxes. They’re designed to handle exposure to heat and protect your products for a longer period of time. They also come with a temperature indicator so you can rest easy knowing your products are as fresh as they can be.
2. Choose a Fast Shipping Option
We know what you’re thinking — “Won’t fast shipping cost me more?” While faster shipping is usually more expensive, paying a premium might be worth it if it means happier customers. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be as painstaking as it seems. There are actually a number of methods to expedite shipping without going straight to your piggy bank, like same-day picking and splitting your inventory up into multiple locations.
Bonus: If you’re outsourcing your fulfillment, try talking to your 3PL to figure out what shipping options are available to you. Fulfillment centers get shipping discounts due to their high order volume which they then pass on to their customers. You might be surprised at the kind of savings you can score.
3. Use Stickers
If you want to be very clear about the nature of your package, slapping on a sticker might be an additional, but important, step. By adding a label to your box that says “PERISHABLE,” you’re telling your shipping carrier “Hurry up! Melted chocolate is at stake!” They’ll understand.
4. Be Mindful of Shipping Distances and Delivery Times
Remember, communication is key! Sometimes, it’s possible to overestimate or underestimate the time it’ll take for a package to arrive at its final destination. Maintaining a clear line of communication between you and your shipping provider is essential, both for addressing any questions as well as receiving exact delivery time frames.
5. Refrigerate Products Before Shipping
There are times when refrigerating or even freezing items before packing can be helpful when shipping in warm or hot weather. The idea is that if it starts cold, it stays colder for longer. While this won’t make sense for all products, refrigerating items such as chocolates can be a key part in making sure they maintain at a stable temperature.We hope we’ve been able to provide some valuable insight on how you can navigate the summer months so that your eCommerce store can continue thriving.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’d be happy to help.