How to pack bathroom hardware for shipping

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We are obsessed in the UK with our homes. As a nation we invest a significant amount of time, effort and money into maintaining and improving them. Just a quick flick through the TV channels will confirm our compulsion to make-over, remodel and renovate our home – or move to our dream property!

It seems the number of bathrooms that we have in our homes has become a bit of a status symbol. With new build properties of two or more bedrooms containing a master bathroom, an ensuite bathroom and a guest toilet – it does solve the age-old issue of bathroom queues in the morning! 

As a result, many of us are converting unused spaces, like under the stairs, to guest toilets, adding luxurious ensuite bathrooms, or just updating our bathrooms to something a bit more modern than that 1970s avocado green bathroom suite.

If you’re looking for the ultimate bathroom aspiration, Buckingham Palace has 78 of them!

The shipment of bathroom hardware to fulfil our renovation dreams is incredibly challenging. Toilets and sinks are made of ceramic, shower screens and mirrors from glass. Both of these materials are highly fragile and easily damaged by drops and knocks if they aren’t properly protected for the journey. They are also difficult, if not impossible, to repair, and so are often written off by the retailer, with a replacement sent.

For customers, this can be frustrating as they time their deliveries for builder installation only to discover that the product is damaged and in need of replacement.

In this article, we will explore the best way to protect fragile bathroom hardware to ensure it arrives in tip top condition.

We will review:

The value of the hardware and home Improvement market in the UK

The value of the Hardware and Home Improvement market in the UK

Homeownership is an important part of British culture; it is seen as a key marker of success and stability. Our unpredictable weather creates a need to have a warm and inviting space to retreat to during the long winter evenings.

Compared to some other countries, we’ve a relatively high population density and, it seems, a limitation in the available land for development. This drives us to make the most of the space we have. For those that are lucky enough to purchase their own property, it’s seen as a long-term investment to maximise – both in terms of financial value and quality of life.

As a result of our love for a home refresh, the hardware and home improvement store industry in the UK has grown on average 2.2% YOY over the last 5 years to a value of £14.9bn in 2023. It’s predicted to grow by a further 2.4% in 2023.   

Bathroom hardware contributes approximate £0.8billion to the overall market, with the average bathroom refit coming in at around £6,500, but you could spend upwards of £15,000+, depending on your bathroom size or taste for luxury fittings.

With such a significant spend at stake for homeowners, it’s no surprise that they expect to receive perfect goods on delivery.

The impact of damages and returns to business

The impact of damages and returns to business

Damages and returns can have a significant impact on business profitability, and not just because of the replacement cost of faulty product.

When customers receive damaged product, it starts a chain of events which can impact many departments and increase operational costs. From the initial enquiry to customer services, through to the repicking, packing and transportation of replacement product, there is a negative impact in time and cost as you engage staff to handle the same order twice. Your inventory is also affected if you’re writing off stock.

Your brand reputation is also at stake, which is a key driver in customer loyalty. Bad experiences travel fast amongst family, friends and work colleagues and, if you trade online, there is also the risk of bad reviews. This can make attracting new customers more challenging.

Product damage also contributes to an increased carbon footprint, negatively impacting your business sustainability goals. The products that are replaced use twice the amount of fuel to deliver, and often, stock which cannot be repaired and resold enters the waste stream. All this increases energy use as new stock is manufactured to replace it.

The most common causes of breakages in transit

The most common causes of breakages in transit

There are several common causes of damage that can occur when shipping bathroom hardware.

If the item is not packaged properly, it can get damaged during transportation. This can include not enough cushioning material, weak or flimsy packaging, or not securing the item properly within the package. 

If too much pressure is applied onto a product by the packaging, it can create tension. This can stop shocks from being fully absorbed and put strain on the ceramic to cause cracks or hairline fractures.

During transit, packages can be jostled around and subject to rough handling. Knocks, drops or forces of pressure can cause products to become smashed, cracked or scratched.

To avoid these types of damage, it’s important to properly pack bathroom hardware with appropriate cushioning materials and ensure that it is securely fastened within the package.

How to pack bathroom hardware for shipping

How to pack bathroom hardware for shipping

To ensure that your products arrive undamaged to their destination, here are some key factors in packing bathroom hardware.

Cushioning and protective packaging is crucial

Use packaging materials that provide high volumes of cushioning, such as Airsac®, Ranpak Padpak paper or large bubble wrap. Make sure that the packaging material is thick enough to absorb shocks and vibrations during transit. 

When shipping multiple products, such as sinks, taps, toilet pans and cisterns, ensure you use sufficient packaging to separate these items.

Be sure to use a stable void fill as, once you apply your packaging, you need it to stay in place. Loose fill is a great product but probably isn’t best when shipping highly fragile ceramic, as it can shift during transit and provide inadequate protection.

Use the correct size cardboard box

Get the size of the cardboard box right – use boxes that are appropriate in size for the ceramic ware being shipped. Cardboard boxes that are too small, or too large, can increase the likelihood of breakages during transit.

Try using multi depth cardboard cartons to ensure the pack is stable and products cannot move. Plus, a variable-depth cardboard box can help control the amount of on-box packing material used, cutting unnecessary packaging waste.

Double box fragile items

For particularly fragile items, consider double boxing. This involves placing bathroom ceramics or hardware in a smaller cardboard box that is then placed inside a large cardboard box with additional cushioning in between.

Cushioning should cover the top, base and sides of the inner box as the pack could suffer knocks and scrapes on all sides whilst in transit.

Don’t forget to apply fragile labels to the outer pack. Clearly labelled packs alert handlers to take extra care when handling your fragile goods.

Consider palletisation

For incredibly fragile consignments which are high value or low on inventory, consider shipping on a pallet to provide additional stability and protection during transit. It may cost more than conventional forms of shipping, but guarantees that the product arrives intact and fit for purpose.

Support to prevent shipping damages

Support to prevent shipping damages

If you are experiencing a high rate of damages and returns, Macfarlane Packaging are on hand to help. With our knowledge, expertise, and a wide range of protective packaging products, we can reduce your operational cost and improve your customer experience.