Furniture deliveries: how to deal with damaged deliveries

If you’re in the furniture industry, you have probably dealt with damaged deliveries as incidents frequently happen. According to a recent Amcor study, 34% of the packages that are returned by customers are damaged products. With eCommerce return rates being between 20% and 30%, it accounts for many orders.

This can be explained by the fact that certain furniture items are difficult to deliver as they can be quite large and the customer’s home might be fairly narrow.

That being said, furniture delivery incidents are not only common but also incredibly costly for companies. Therefore, it is important to learn how to deal with them in order to minimize the extra cost.

This is precisely what we will be talking in this blog so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the reading.

Damaged deliveries: a huge cost for companies

Replacement cost. The cost of replacing damaged furniture can be quite high, as companies will have to spend twice as much for one product. They will have to order another product from the manufacturer, and this can be a long process until the new item arrives at the warehouse.

Deliveries delayed. The driver will also have to take the damaged item back to the warehouse, thereby delaying deliveries, especially if the item is heavy and they have to load it onto the truck. They will have to make a second delivery with the replacement item for the customer. Needless to say that all of these trips will waste a considerable amount of time and money for companies.

Negative impact on brand image. Damaged deliveries can significantly affect customers’ satisfaction, which will impact your sales and brand image. People talk a lot about furniture deliveries, and the more damaged deliveries you score, the fewer customers you will acquire.

However, most incidents can be avoided or handled more efficiently if certain precautions are taken. Learn more about how you can prevent furniture damage and the best way to deal with it in order to reduce costs and minimize the impact on customer satisfaction.

What are the main elements that cause furniture delivery damage?

A classic scenario is when a delivery driver delivers a voluminous sofa to a customer’s narrow hallway. The driver leaves some scratches on the wall or on the sofa while taking the furniture to the customer’s living room. Another scenario could be a driver delivering a fridge and accidentally dropping it on the floor.

Delivering heavy furniture is definitely not an easy job, especially to small properties. Therefore, even your best delivery drivers might make mistakes.

To prevent furniture damage, we need to identify the main elements that could cause damage in the first place. Here are the main reasons why packages get damaged during delivery:

  • Drivers not being mindful

Sometimes, an item can get damaged if the driver is not careful. They may not be mindful of the dimensions of the package, unload it improperly, or even damage a customer’s property by trying to make it fit. For example, they might think that there is enough space for them to take the couch by the door, but they will damage the walls or the floor.

  • Customers

Customers are often responsible for damaged deliveries, as they may not have taken the right measurement of their room when they purchased their item. Therefore, furniture might not fit, and it can damage the floor, the door, or the furniture itself when the driver tries to install it.

Customers may fail to take necessary precautions prior to delivery, such as leaving the house in a state of disarray or leaving items hung on the wall. They could have a dog running around that gets excited when strangers come into the house. This could disturb the drivers while they are delivering the items, causing them to fall or slip up.

  • Packaging imperfections

Orders can get damaged when they haven’t been well packed. In fact, if there is too much space in a box and the item is fragile, it might move a lot during the journey and break.

Also, there could be a lack of cushioning material, such as airbags or bubble wrap, depending on the type of product. For eco-friendly cushioning solutions, check out this blog.

  • Damaged when sent by manufacturers

Damages can happen before delivery, as some products can be handled inadequately by manufacturers in the warehouse or get damaged while being manufactured. Staff will not always notice those damaged products and will ship the products without checking.

What can you do to prevent furniture damage?

  • Provide good tools to handle packages

Make sure you give your staff handtrucks to move packages around the warehouse safely and avoid falls. Ensure they are maintained in order to avoid flat tires and provide enough dollies so that your operators don’t struggle to carry parcels. You could also provide those tools to the driver who will unload the products to ensure a smooth delivery.

  • Use the right packaging

Not all furniture items will come in a box, but for those that do, make sure to pick the right box size so that the product doesn’t move too much during the delivery and fill the empty space with more dunnage. Check that it has good protection, especially if it’s a fragile item like a mirror or a glass table. Wrap them well enough so that they won’t get damaged if they fall in the truck or when they are unloaded.

  • Make information clear about how the package should be handled

Tag fragile items with the label fragile.” Drivers won't always remember that some products need to be handled more carefully than others. This is why indicating it very clearly will help prevent any improper handling.

Communicate with your drivers. You might want to remind drivers of specific products that you know are fragile. If you’re using delivery software, you could write “fragile” on the order so that your driver can see it on the app. That way, they will have few excuses for not being careful.

  • Keep track of damaged deliveries and driver performance

Some of your drivers might be a lot less careful than others and sometimes be quite blunt. You might want to keep track of which delivery drivers have a history of damaging products in order to warn them to be more careful or assign them less risky deliveries. If you’re using delivery software, you might be able to record delivery damage per driver and therefore keep track of their performance.

With CIGO Tracker's delivery management system, each driver receives a score for his or her performance, and the number of damaged deliveries is registered. You could also ask your drivers to not only send a photo of the damaged item but also to let you know in the chat how it got damaged so that you can keep this information when evaluating drivers.

What can you do to reduce customers’ anger after a damaged delivery?

While following the advice above can greatly help to prevent delivery damage, incidents do occur, and you must be prepared to handle them if you want your customers to return and maintain a positive opinion of your brand.

In a recent study we conducted, 56% of the respondents said they are worried their products will get damaged when they order items online.

No more waiting. Having items like furniture damaged when delivered can really upset customers, especially if they have been waiting for a long time. If they were patient for five months before receiving their order, they won’t want to wait another two to three months for the replacement item to be delivered.

Essential items. They might be waiting for a new desk that they need to work from home, or they may have just moved and have ordered a mattress, an essential piece of furniture to start living in their new place.

Therefore, when the day of delivery finally arrives, the disappointment will be real if they are told they have to wait for a few more months because the furniture was damaged.

Impact on customers' perception of the brand

Customers will see this as a lack of reliability, and this might harm your brand’s reputation. In fact, according to an Itene survey, 79% of customers say they will not purchase again from a brand if they’ve experienced a damaged package. We all know that in order to be financially successful, a company needs to have a positive brand image so that it can attract more customers.

Considering that furniture is sometimes costly and delivery time is quite long (especially since the pandemic began), customers will be less tolerant of interruptions.

#1 Get informed of any damage right away

In order to appease customers, you must offer them solutions quickly, even before they have time to complain. To do this, your delivery driver should inform you of any damage as soon as it occurs.

This is why many furniture companies are using delivery software that allows you to upload photos of incidents directly into the app. Your drivers will simply have to take a photo of the damaged product or the wall, floor, or door that has been damaged while delivering it and save it in the app.

The warehouse team or dispatcher will receive a notification via SMS or email that an order has been damaged. They will be able to see right away which customer it concerns and look at the photo to evaluate the damage. The photo will be stored in the app for up to 24 months.

#2 Protect your brand’s image

When you are notified of damaged orders, you can provide a quick solution to your customer. You will be able to apologize for the inconvenience it caused them and let them know you’re already taking action to fix the problem.

This will show responsiveness and transparency, which may reduce the negative impression the customer has on your brand.

#3 Talk to customers

The cost of replacing damaged furniture can be high for your company. According to a PMMI report, “replacing a damaged product can cost an eCommerce business up to 17 times more than what the original cost of shipping was.”

Negotiate. However, when you’re notified of any damaged item immediately, you will be able to call customers while your driver is still there and negotiate with them to see if they will be willing to keep the item if the damage is minimal in exchange for a reduction in price.

Offer a credit. While it might not work for everything, customers may agree to a credit for a little damage. For example, if the side of a dryer gets a little bit damaged during delivery, customers might keep the product and accept a credit. They might not care much about aesthetics if the machine is fully functional.

If they have ordered a sofa for their living room and the back of the sofa will be placed against the wall, they might not make a big deal of a little scratch on the back if you’re offering them a credit or refund.

Obviously, not all customers will agree to this, and some damage can significantly affect the look and functionality of an item, but if you can negotiate with customers, it could significantly reduce the cost of damaged deliveries.

Meet CIGO Tracker

CIGO Tracker is a powerful delivery management platform to automate deliveries and provide your customers with a seamless delivery experience.

Our delivery platform has already helped many furniture businesses with their delivery operations and in particular with damaged orders. As a matter of fact, customers have been impressed by the quality of the photos and how easy it is to record them. Some of them have mentioned that they really appreciate how intuitive the platform is and like being able to record all the information that could be useful.

Interested to learn more? You can schedule a demo or a call today through the link down below:

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