Want to Reduce Shipping Damage? Pretend You’re Shipping TVs

September 8, 2016

9:09 am

High-end bike startup Van Moof had a problem: Their business relied on shipping their bikes in massive flat boxes, but many were damaged en route.

It wasn’t just one shipper, either. They “tried them all,” according to Van Moof’s cofounder and designer. So they came up with a simple, easy solution that cut damage by 70 percent: They printed pictures of flatscreen TVs on the outside of the boxes. Here’s the story.

The Problem

Shipping is an essential aspect of Van Moof’s business, and they plan on making it more essential, they wrote in a recent Medium post:

“With a big hairy goal to sell 90% of our bikes online by 2020, we had to find a fix. Anyone in the ecom world knows you’re only as good as your shipping partner. Your covetable products, your frictionless website, your killer brand — they all count for nothing when your delivery partner drops the ball.”

The Solution

The answer was hidden in the size and shape of the typical bike boxes Van Moof shipped:

“Earlier this year our co-founder Ties had a flash of genius. Our boxes are about the same size as a (really really reaaaally massive) flatscreen television. Flatscreen televisions always arrive in perfect condition. What if we just printed a flatscreen television on the side of our boxes? And just like that, shipping damage to our bikes dropped by 70–80%.”

The Takeaway

It’s just one example of how “thinking outside the box” is sometimes a completely literal statement. And sometimes a tiny difference makes a huge impact.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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