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A Guide to Cold Shipping Solutions

As a business, the first contract you make with your customer is delivering the items they purchased in great condition. The relationship starts here, and any hiccups can significantly impact their experience with your brand.

Now, if you’re a business that deals with perishable products, you also have to deal with an extra layer of complexity: temperature-sensitive shipments.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the overall best practices of shipping frozen and refrigerated products, common challenges, and tips on helping you pick the right solution for your business.

What is Cold Chain Shipping?

Cold chain shipping is transporting, storage, handling, and delivering temperature-sensitive items such as food and pharmaceutical products. It requires advanced shipping equipment, including temperature-monitored refrigerators, specialized warehouses, and cold boxes to ensure product quality.

The basic rule for perishable items like food and produce is to deliver them fresh and free of contamination. With medicinal products, each category of items has its own required storage temperature.

Technological advancements and innovations are driving the rising demand for cold shipping solutions. The cold chain logistics market was valued at USD 245 billion in 2021 and is expected to be worth around USD 801.26 billion by 2030.

During COVID-19, we saw the perfect use case of stringent temperature requirements for vaccine doses and how some countries couldn’t administer certain vaccinations due to a lack of the right equipment for cold storage.

So, why do companies shy away from cold chain shipping? Many challenges make it one of the trickiest shipping methods. Let's dive in.

Challenges of Shipping Frozen and Refrigerated Products

Other than storage, handling, and shipping, there are many other challenges to navigate when you’re dealing with the shipping of frozen and refrigerated items. Some of them include:

Higher Costs Compared to Standard Shipping

Special packaging, the need for advanced equipment, strict requirements of temperatures and environments, and humidity control are some of the extraordinary measures that cold chain shipping requires.

Many cold shipping items, especially food, have an expiry date. To avoid wasting products, perishable items must be marked as expedited shipments. All these necessary precautions lead to a higher shipping cost than standard shipping, and the reality is that many companies can’t afford to do it at all.

Prone to Damages and Refund Claims

Frozen food items and pharmaceutical products are more likely to be damaged during transit than other products. The reason could be anything from malfunctioned equipment to basic human error, but the result is the same: wasted inventory or a refund claim if it ends up at the customer's doorstep.

In most cases, if the shipping container is damaged but the product isn’t compromised, you’re required by law not to sell or deliver the item and should discard the entire shipment.

Delays are a No-No

In standard shipping, delays are imminent. Sometimes delays are in your control, but other times, external factors could be stacked against you. When dealing with cold shipping, delays mean something will most likely go bad.

The longer a delay is, the greater the chances that the item will be compromised due to irregular temperature, humidity, or expiry date.

Complicated Inventory Control and Management

The process of storing temperature-sensitive items is much more intricate than it is for standard items. Frozen and refrigerated items are at a greater risk of losing their quality due to a minor error in any of the SOPs at any stage.

There is also a very thin margin to forecasting the inventory storage capacity, as overstocking may lead to products expiring, and understocking may lead to a shortage of products when customers need them. A shortage becomes even more critical when you’re dealing with life-saving medicines.

Cold Shipping Best Practices

An important aspect of cold shipping is understanding the best way to ship your products.

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Choose the right insulated shipping containers, as they protect your items from the external heat of the environment. Even if you have temperature-controlled equipment, insulated box liners or dedicated cold shipping boxes will provide an extra layer of protection.
  • Use dry ice and frozen gel packs when packing perishable frozen food shipments. If you’re using dry ice, ensure there is some ventilation in the package.
  • Always opt for shipping insurance. No matter what method you pick, shipping perishable items and pharmaceuticals is tricky. If you’re working with a provider, ensure they provide insurance protection for complete peace of mind.

Managing the shipment and delivery of cold products is a lot to handle in-house. You’re busy running your business, and managing such an intricate, critical process on top of that can be quite stressful.

What if we told you there was a simpler way?

The right logistics partner can take this load off of your plate, ensuring you remain compliant with regulations and keeping your products safe at all times.

Finding the Right Cold Shipping Solution

Choosing the right cold shipping solution is extremely important, considering how complex of a process it is. Here are some tips on what to look for:

Equipment First!

The single most important feature to look for in a provider is the right equipment for your cold shipping needs. If they don’t have the proper equipment or haven't dealt with another client in the same niche, they might not be the right fit.

Optimized SOPs

Providers that have built great SOPs will give you better insights into the efficiency of your shipment needs and provide better accountability and transparency throughout the process.

Technology Integration

A lack of technological innovation can be a deal-breaker when looking for a cold shipping provider. Look for companies that use technology to drive processes and use data for intelligent analysis and to forecast better solutions.

Cost Transparency

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: cold shipping is costly. The last thing you want is added costs or inflexibility when you need to scale service up or down. Ask any potential providers to share transparent and straightforward costing based on your demand and supply needs.

Keep Your Deliveries Cool with Ziing

Cold shipping is a tricky feat, and a DIY approach may not work. From packaging to temperatures to humidity, everything needs to be done without any room for error. Not to mention, as a business owner, you’ve got more important things to do with your time.

At Ziing, our cold shipping solution uses state-of-the-art equipment to control temperatures and humidity. We provide total cost transparency and use technology to utilize our big data capabilities, helping you find better-suited delivery options and potential markets to scale.

Get in touch - and let’s keep it cool, together.

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