Perishable shipping is a tricky business. In order to get it right the first time around, you have to understand what you’re dealing with (outside of giving your customers tasty goods, of course).

In this article, we’ll go into detail what you need to consider in order to nail your perishable shipping strategy.

Know the product

All perishables are different, so be prepared to do your research and experiment with packaging, preparation methods and shipping methods.

In the case of baked goods, make sure they are completely cooled off before shipping. And if chocolate is involved, it should be shipped at a steady temperature.

Pro tip: Know you don’t have to go at this alone. Companies like Periship provide lots of expert resources to help you with perishable shipping.

Pay close attention to packaging

Proper packaging will depend on the particular type of perishable you are shipping.

As a rule, when you want to do perishable shipping, you should preserve temperature and minimize movement. And if you’re shipping something that includes a liquid or that may melt into liquid, be sure to provide padding to absorb any accidental spillage.

For example: If you’re shipping cupcakes, you should use custom made containers that keep each cupcake in it’s own snug compartment. An edible candy stick can also be used to ensure the lid doesn’t smash the cupcake’s frosted design. Fresh baked products like cupcakes should also be sealed airtight to preserve freshness.

Choose the right shipping method

Speaking of shipping costs, it’s absolutely essential to provide the right shipping method for your product. Often this means a quick delivery turnaround. This is especially true if a customer is placing an order for a specific holiday like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

Overnight is almost a guarantee that your products will arrive in good shape (and taste), but it’s more expensive than options like 2nd day air. Providing only expensive shipping options could also cause your customers to turn to a competitor.

But don’t let cost deter you; customers may be willing to pay higher shipping costs than you think to get a special treat, especially when they know product freshness is at stake.

It’s also vital to provide a guaranteed delivery date. If your shipment arrives when your customer is not expecting it, it could literally spoil on the doorstep. Oh no!

Take advantage of dimensional shipping

Packing your shipments into the smallest possible container not only means you can keep your perishables at a steady temperature more easily, it also means you can potentially save on shipping costs.

Pro tip: Pack your perishables tightly so your gel pack or other cooling method of choice is cooling your product and not just thin air.

You may need to do some research, and then try out a few proven methods to determine which packaging keeps your products at the optimal shape and temperature without making your products prohibitively expensive to ship.

FedEx provides some resources on packaging perishable products.

Time the shipment

Both UPS and FedEx recommend a maximum shipping time of 30 hours for perishables. To avoid your perishables sitting around in a warehouse over the weekend, ship early in the week.

ShipperHQ can help you do this by automating the process, allowing you to set up shipping cut off times, delivery windows and blackout dates to avoid ruined shipments. Check out our case study on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to see this in action.

Prepare for contingencies

Make sure to have instructions in place in case of a failed shipment.

There’s little use in having a packaged of spoiled perishables returned to your warehouse, so instruct your carrier to discard failed shipments and notify you immediately.

Preparing for contingencies can also mean being prepared to “make it right” when a shipment fails to arrive, arrives late or otherwise damaged. Offer a refund, coupon or replacement to appease unhappy customers.

Ask for feedback

It would be disappointing if your cupcakes are delivered as a soggy mess of melted goo, but what would be even worse is if you never knew about it!

Consider including an insert in all packaging or sending an email follow up, to find out if your perishables arrived in tip top shape, at the correct temperature, and still mouthwateringly yummy. And, be ready to quickly respond to any feedback by offering a reship, refund or discount off a subsequent order.

Do you ship perishables?

ShipperHQ is the frontend shipping management platform you need to ensure your products arrive on-time, at the correct temperature, and delightfully delicious to your customers. Try a 30-day no-risk ShipperHQ free trial today!