In case you haven’t heard, the furniture and homewares category is having a moment right now. Gerry Harvey described the past few months as unlike anything he’s seen in the past 60 years of retail. Temple & Webster just posted a bigger profit in the first quarter of FY20 than it made in all of FY19. And MyDeal reported a 317 per cent year-on-year sales increase in the September quarter as it made its ASX debut. 

There are a few reasons these businesses are seeing such phenomenal growth. The shift to remote working forced many people to upgrade their home office set-up, while others, stuck indoors, simply grew tired of staring at the same old sofa and decided it was time to redecorate. 

But as they say, you can have too much of a good thing. Smaller furniture businesses that didn’t already have a well-established delivery offering or businesses that decided to jump on the furniture (or trampoline!) bandwagon without much experience in the space, might have found themselves overwhelmed by the process of shipping bulky goods. It’s certainly not as easy as sending apparel in a satchel. 

With that in mind, here’s an overview of the key points you need to consider when shipping large, heavy and bulky items. 

Don’t settle, find a specialist courier.

Not all carriers ship bulky goods, and some that do will still charge you an arm and a leg. Specialists are more likely to offer competitive rates. Two major carriers that specialise in shipping large, heavy and bulky goods are TNT and Allied Express, which offer discounted rates to Shippit customers. 

Both of these carriers also offer standard delivery for satchels and smaller parcels – Allied Express also does same-day metro delivery and TNT also has an overnight express service – in case your business sells a range of products. 

Even if you choose a specialist, however, it’s important to check their size and weight limits for each service. Some bulky items might not qualify for express delivery, for instance, and if you book it, you might have to pay a surcharge. Other items might need to be packed on a pallet or skid for forklift access if they’re above a certain weight. 

Take extra care with packaging

Bulky goods like furniture and appliances tend to be costly, and if they’re not packed properly you might not be covered if they’re damaged in transit. So you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure they arrive without a scratch.

Because large, heavy and bulky items are unlikely to be shipped in satchels, you’re probably looking at packing them in boxes or on pallets. 

If you’re using a box or carton, make sure to use sufficient internal packaging to protect the item. The box itself is simply a barrier against the elements. This is particularly important for fragile items. In addition, don’t overload the carton; it will need to support the weight of whatever’s inside. And lastly, try to avoid leaving any dead space by choosing the right size box and using void-fill material. This ensures you won’t pay more to ship than you need to and adds an extra layer of protection. 

If you’re shipping an extremely heavy item, or something that is oddly shaped, you might need to use a pallet. Make sure to stretch wrap your item before placing it on the pallet. It should fit squarely on the pallet, without hanging over any sides, and be secured with two straps in each direction. Remember that the carrier might need to stack your pallet, so it should be sturdy, with the label affixed to the side, not the top. TNT has a handy guide to packing irregular items on its website.

Share the ultimate “white-glove” experience

Delivering a new fridge or sofa is a completely different scenario than dropping off a small parcel. Most customers would be annoyed if the courier left a large, heavy box outside their front door, leaving them to drag it the rest of the way in. Then there’s the matter of what to do with their old appliance or piece of furniture and the stacks of packaging that won’t fit in their recycling bin.

A ‘white-glove’ delivery service takes care of all of this and helps you provide a premium customer experience. Neway is one such courier that offers more personalised and tailored services for shipping large or fragile goods, and you can start shipping with them instantly on Shippit with discounted rates. 

Why protection is critical this peak season

Did you know that most of our transit protection claims come from furniture and homewares retailers? Ensuring your deliveries are protected when things don’t go to plan is fast becoming a need-to-have and not just a nice-to-have. With eCommerce sales set to break records this peak season, continuing the pressure on carrier networks, there’ll be a higher risk of orders being lost or damaged in transit – especially for large or fragile goods. When choosing a provider for parcel protection, watch out for hidden fees, reasonable claim requirements and compare value, not cost.

Shippit’s low-cost Transit Protection makes it easy to protect all your online deliveries, no matter who you ship with or what you ship. Transit Protection is simple, there’s no fee to file a claim, retail value coverage and a super-fast claims process, so you can focus on doing what you love.