Your Guide to Shipping Fragile Items

By Baillee Perkins
Sep 9, 2022
Learn how to ship fragile items with ShippingEasy!

One of the worst feelings is opening a package you’ve been eagerly waiting for, only to find your order is broken or damaged. Take this feeling and apply it to your customers. If you feel awful getting something broken or damaged, chances are they’ll feel exactly the same. Things obviously happen out of our control, but you can do everything in your power to package fragile items so that they arrive at their new homes in one piece.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a fragile item?
  2. Guidelines for shipping fragile items
  3. Fragile shipping labels
  4. How to ship fragile objects and fragile shipping boxes
  5. Review your return policy
  6. Fragile shipping with ShippingEasy
  7. Conclusion

What is a fragile item?

We’re classifying fragile items as breakable items and/or items that need special packaging for shipping. These items need multiple layers of packaging, have specific carrier specifications to follow, and honestly, they just require a little extra love to survive their journey in transit. Some examples can include: 

Guidelines for shipping fragile items

Like we just mentioned, sometimes fragile items need a bit of TLC to safely arrive to your customers. Carriers like USPS have specific guidelines for shipping items like food, plants, and bendable products. Whether it be cookies, a plant, or a new calendar, these items sometimes have packaging restrictions or guidelines around how they can be shipped. Plus, it’s good to have a reminder about prepping some of these specialty shipments for transit. We’re going to focus on food, plants, musical instruments, and bendable items, but feel free to check out our guides from the previous section for shipping other specialty items! 

Shipping food with USPS

Food items, especially perishable food items, have to follow carrier guidelines to keep your food from turning into mush or crumbles instead of delicious little treats. Everything is shipped at your own risk, so taking the extra steps given by carriers like USPS is worth the time. 

One thing to note: These example guidelines are from USPS, so check with UPS and FedEx directly for their specific guidelines. 

Shipping plants and musical instruments

Fragile items like plants and musical instruments have to be securely placed in your packaging to keep them from breaking. The biggest thing to remember with these items is that they could potentially shift in transit, so any spaces surrounding your items need to be filled with eco-friendly packing peanuts, paper, and other packing materials. This way, your fragile pieces stay in place and are less likely to shift around, meaning they have a better chance of making it to their new homes without damage. Luna London Candles has a wonderful YouTube video where owner Ishani Parbhoo shows how to package breakable items like candles, and you can check it out below.

Shipping bendable items

Items like calendars and stationery are easily bent, so we recommend adding stickers or stamps with messages like “Do Not Bend” added to the inner and outer packaging. However, your packaging can only have a certain amount of stiffness for it to be considered mail and not a parcel, so you may be asked to show your packaging isn’t completely solid by your local post office worker when you’re shipping these items out. 

Fragile shipping labels

Did you know you can order some shipping supplies from your ShippingEasy dashboard? Well, you can! Onyx Products even offers supplies for your fragile items like special handling labels, tape, and bubble bags. You buy these supplies straight from your account so that you don’t have to visit other sites to try to find what you need. And, you can even do it while you’re waiting for your labels to finish printing.

How to ship fragile objects and fragile shipping boxes

We’ve talked a lot about specialty and fragile items and some of the supplies you’ll need. Now, it’s time to actually give you some tips for packing these items to send them to your customers! When it comes to shipping your fragile objects: 

  • Don’t use oversized boxes or soft envelopes 
  • Wrap items in bubble wrap and paper 
  • Fill any empty spaces with paper 
  • Include fragile item stickers and markings to show how the package should be stored 
  • Test your packaging before sending items to see if any items shift in transit and adjust accordingly

We’ve also thrown in an infographic from FedEx to better illustrate packing these items for you below. 

Image source: FedEx

Fragile shipping boxes

Choosing the right type of box for your fragile items can literally make or break them. Marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart are good places to start searching for more durable boxes like corrugated boxes and boxes with thicker walls. Some of these boxes are even made of recycled materials, so you can help the environment while keeping all of your fragile items in tip-top shape. 

You can find more ideas for shipping supplies in our blog!

Review your return policy

It’s never a bad time to check your return policy for any outdated or incorrect information. If your business offers returns and/or exchanges for broken/damaged items, it’s best to keep your information as up-to-date as possible. Some tips for reviewing your return policy are: 

  • Confirm all of the information about returns for broken and/or damaged items is correct 
  • Provide discounts/special promos to customers who reuse packaging
  • Note if any of these policies will be updated/extended during the holiday season
For more information on return policy, check out our blog Shipping Unboxed: FAQs about Returns.

Fragile shipping with ShippingEasy

Just like shipping your nonbreakable products, ShippingEasy gives you the option to create and save custom packaging to use with your Shipping Rules. These custom packaging options include the dimensions of your package and any add-to weight that needs to be taken into consideration when calculating what your package will cost to ship. You can also name these package presets 

With added packaging comes added weight. As a reminder, all ShippingEasy users have access to USPS Commercial rates and UPS One Balance rates. If you aren’t using a service like USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate, your shipment will be based on things such as its weight, dimension, and zone

USPS Commercial rates can save you up to 43% over the USPS Retail rates you normally see during a trip to the post office, and UPS One Balance rates give you up to 82% off daily rates (international services), up to 72% for UPS 2nd Day Air service, and up to 77% off UPS Ground shipments. Keep your fragile items and your shipping budget intact. 💪


Now that we’ve covered shipping fragile items, let’s reverse the scenario from earlier. Imagine you’ve been eagerly waiting on a package, and your order arrives in pristine condition. It has all of the markings to show the carrier it needs to be handled with care, and it’s been carefully wrapped to avoid any damages within your control. Take your giddiness and transfer it to your customers. Keeping their items in perfect condition will help them trust your store and turn them into repeat customers. 

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Baillee Perkins

Baillee Perkins is a writer of shipping by day and pop culture by night, so her Google search history is an actual nightmare.

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