Perishable Shipping 101: How eCommerce brands can master the art of shipping perishable goods

Shipping is hard. Shipping perishable goods is even harder. At Grip, we specialize in perishable shipping because it’s what we do best. 

Sending perishable goods across the country – whether it be a customer’s weekly meal kits or a bouquet of Valentine’s Day roses – requires every step of the logistics process working in perfect harmony. 

The space is fraught with challenges, including high shipping costs, tough competition for dry ice, and the risk of damaged packages. For DTC brands already operating on thin margins, every dollar counts.

Grip’s founding team saw the struggles of shipping perishable goods across the country while building meat delivery service ButcherBox into a $500 million revenue company. For smaller companies, inefficient logistics can quickly eat into your operating margins. 

Let’s look at how you can ship perishable goods more effectively while also enhancing your customer’s experience.

Embrace dynamic shipping

The industry is still operating on the status quo of what we call “static shipping.” This means that a company will send the same package – in this case, let’s say a box of frozen baked goods – from its warehouse in Utah to its customer in California the same way year round. This is a mistake.

By doing this, DTC brands expose themselves to inefficiencies and a higher risk that their goods will arrive late or damaged. At Grip, we pride ourselves on being leaders in “dynamic shipping.” Our powerful shipping engine analyzes the characteristics of every single package to make a package-by-package shipping recommendation.

For example, by responding to real time conditions, whether that be carrier performance, unexpected delays, temperatures on the ground or major weather events, DTC brands can eliminate costly and unnecessary expedited shipping, use only the right amount of dry ice and refrigerant that’s needed, and select regional or national carriers that will provide the best service in that window.

It starts with packaging

The first step in shipping perishable goods is selecting the right packaging materials. 

Are you using different sized packages for different sized orders? We’ve seen many brands use the same one-size-fits-all approach to their orders, which means using large boxes that require more refrigeration or are more expensive to ship. 

By using data and on the ground conditions to inform how you’re packaging your products, a company might change the size of their box based on how much dry ice is needed for that specific order to ensure their products stay at the optimal temperature during transit but are also sent using the most cost effective methods.

This not only reduces your operation costs, but also reduces your company’s carbon footprint and environmental impact.

Don’t let it rain on your parade

For some DTC brands, damaged packaging or melted products in transit can account for up to 90% of their customer service complaints. Very quickly, this can become a costly and unsustainable business model.

When shipping perishable products, mistakes can be costly both in terms of the value of the product itself but also the money spent on acquiring the customer.

Advanced temperature monitoring systems allow DTC brands to forecast the temperature and conditions along a shipment route and anticipate disruptions caused by weather events such as blizzards, heavy rainfall, wildfires or even just a spell of high humidity. If a heatwave is predicted to hit the day after you send a batch of shipments to, for example, Texas, then the eCommerce brand may choose to include extra dry ice or refrigerant.

In more extreme cases, a DTC brand may choose to delay the shipment entirely if, for example, a wildfire is raging in a particular area. If the shipment has already left the warehouse, a company can give their customer a heads up and let them know that they will be issuing them a refund or sending another box even before the original shipment has reached them. This is customer service on another level.

Choose the right shipping method

Time is of the essence when shipping perishable goods, as delays can lead to spoilage and loss of product quality. 

But what if we told you that you could be expediting less orders? Many Grip clients prefer perishable items to be delivered within one or two days, so they expedite a high percentage of packages not reachable to customers in this time frame.

But this can be expensive. By plugging into Grip’s network, customers are able to access line-hauls and regionalized carrier strategies that improve performance and reduce pricing. Grip customers usually experience a 92% reduction in expedited orders.

Our new fulfillment service also allows DTC brands to plug into our network of temperature controlled facilities. With warehouses in Texas, Florida, New Jersey and California, Grip can store, fulfill, pack and deliver orders. 

Our fulfillment centers allow our partners to reach anywhere in the U.S. within two days and 50% of the population in just one day. 

We understand the unique aspects of every perishable DTC brand because we’ve built one.

Do you ship perishables?

Every perishable product has its own unique shipping requirements. At Grip, we understand the importance of customization and work closely with our customers to develop tailored shipping solutions that meet their specific needs. 

With a single consolidated dashboard, Grip partners can see the status of all orders and every single item in their inventory.

Whether it’s adjusting temperature settings, optimizing packaging materials, or selecting the most efficient shipping route, we go above and beyond to ensure the safe and timely delivery of perishable goods.

In the past 12 months, Grip has helped its partners deliver $1.2 billion worth of eCommerce goods on time.

Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive shipping solutions and how we can help you ship perishable goods with confidence. Together, we’ll ensure your products arrive on time and in pristine condition, every time.