Summer shipping season is here and with it comes the added challenge of packaging items to successfully withstand hot temperatures. The packaging choices you make will determine whether your perishable items arrive intact and consumer-ready.
No matter if you're shipping live lobsters straight from the trap, a cake designer icing your latest creation or an artisanal ice cream entrepreneur delivering your locally sourced flavors — your business depends on your goods arriving as fresh as the day they were caught or created. We’ve put together some tips on how to ship perishables in summer that will help you ensure shipping success when sending temperature-sensitive items.
Preparing for shipping
At 32 ECT, our custom shipping boxes are ideal for protecting items during shipment. However, when sending perishable items, it’s important to add insulation inserts that can better control the temperature of the box contents.
Before you ship, make sure your shipping boxes have the space to accommodate your insulation and packing material. Gather your product and insulation materials together and practice packing them in your shipping box.
Next, you’ll want to plan out when you’ll ship. Try to pick early days of the week to ship so that your packages arrive before the weekend when customers are typically away from their homes.
Once you’re prepared for shipping, you’ll want to prepare your packaging. Make sure you have the adequate packaging materials for your perishable items.
Cold packs used together with insulated shipping boxes are great options for transporting items that need to stay cooler. Gel refrigerant packs provide reliable refrigeration for safe transport of your perishable items without leaks or spills which can contaminate your product.
Now, you’re ready to ship. Whether you’re shipping with USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or any other shipping carrier, it’s important to label your packages.
Use labels to indicate that the contents of the package need to be temperature controlled. While this won’t help much with the shipping carrier, this will communicate to your customer that the contents of their package are perishable and need to be brought inside immediately.
You’ll also need to pay attention to which day of the week you’re shipping your perishable items. If you ship earlier in the week, your package is likely to arrive at its destination before the weekend. This is important as your customer may be away from their home for the weekend. You won’t want your perishable goods sitting outside in the sun for an entire day or longer. Your customers also won’t want to come home to a melting package.
You can also use expedited shipping and advise your customers to sign for delivery. This option is more costly, but can save you in the long run from refunds and returns from unhappy customers.
Now that we’ve covered some tips on how to ship perishables during summer, let’s dive into real-life examples from some of our own customers. We talked to GetMaineLobster and A Taste Of Home Cake Crate about what they’ve learned when it comes to shipping perishable goods.
GetMaineLobster is a direct-to-consumer company that delivers fresh Maine seafood right to customers’ doors. Founded by Mark Murrell in 2010, GetMaineLobster aims to redesign the way people see and experience premium foods. Mark grew up in Maine and helped a friend launch an online lobster store. After doing more research on the venture and the work it would take to make a successful business, Mark decided to commit to delivering excellence and launched GetMaineLobster.com.
Today, GetMaineLobster still works directly with customers to not only deliver fresh seafood, but also help them learn how to prepare the food they receive.
Shipping live lobsters and fresh seafood across the country is no small feat. We asked how Mark and his team manages this each and every day. We hope their tips will help you find your feet when it comes to shipping your goods, or streamline your current process.
For Mark, the most important aspects of shipping perishable goods aren’t just the packaging. Mark cares about his customers, so he doesn’t shy away from over-communicating. He wants to make sure GetMaineLobster is thoughtful when it comes to its customers’ needs.
Other important aspects of shipping perishable goods include:
- Coolant efficacy
- The right shipping service to match the destination and product
- Effective packaging
Mark mentioned one more important aspect of how to ship perishable goods in summer, “Praying. Praying that UPS or FedEx does the job right when it comes to delivering.”
Kentastic Cakes is a home-based, custom cake business located in Memphis, TN. In April of 2019, owner Ken Kramer launched a cake subscription box business called A Taste Of Home Cake Crate. The idea behind his business was to send out a box of homemade cakes and treats to customers as a way to share a taste of home with college students, young adults, or anyone away from home looking for a comfy and tasty reminder of loved ones. The monthly subscription crate is filled with a variety of homemade treats, cookies, and cakes.
When it comes to shipping, A Taste Of Home ships across the country, so Ken has to make sure he puts a lot of thought and care into packing and shipping his products. Since Ken was new to shipping cakes and treats, it was a learning experience to find the best and most convenient way to ship. Ken has tried gel packs and custom-cut polystyrene inserts, among other ways.
Today, Ken makes sure over all else that his cakes and treats are packaged well inside his shipping box. The shipping journey may not only be warm, but it can also be bumpy. And for fragile items like a cake in a cup or cake pops, secure packaging is a must.
When it comes to key tips for how to ship perishables in summer, Ken says to know your transit times and to pack well for transit. Ken knows that weekends are when customers are most likely to be away from their home, so he ships no later than Tuesday to ensure that his Cake Crates arrive no later than Friday. Some other tips from Ken include:
- Add a note for your customers with instructions
- Research services that work with shipping carriers to find lower rates
- Know where you’re shipping and plan accordingly
Here’s what’s coming up for A Taste Of Home Cake Crate:
A Taste of Home Cake Crate College Plan follows a typical college school year. Your student will receive a Crate from September through November and again from January through May.
All items are made from scratch in the Kentastic Cakes kitchen and shipped directly to your student’s dorm, school mailroom or off-campus address.
“Just because they don’t live at home, doesn’t mean you can’t send them A Taste of Home.” — Ken Kramer, Owner/Baker of Kentastic Cakes