It may seem like simple advice, but you can’t be too careful as you send and receive valuable packages. It’s an everyday risk in the jewelry industry, but shipping losses can be one of the most frustrating sources of insurance claims, creating setbacks, both for your business and your suppliers or clients.
You might be surprised by the amount of calls insurance companies get from their policyholders on items that go missing during the shipping process. Between your shipping operation and your customer’s door, there are countless opportunities for theft and damage. The good news for jewelry businesses is there are steps that can be taken to help ensure shipments arrive intact and on time.
Preparing for successful shipments
Shipping is an aspect of most jewelry businesses, from home-based operations to large-scale and multi-location enterprises. In all cases, defining a structured shipping process can significantly decrease shipping-related losses.
The first step to safe shipping is to review your insurance policy to verify you have the shipping insurance coverage you need, including coverage for your particular shipping methods and the appropriate and adequate limits of coverage for the product being shipped. Jewelers block insurance policies often have standard shipping limits that may or may not be sufficient for the scale of your shipments. A knowledgeable Jewelers block insurance agent can help assess your shipping risks and work with your insurance provider to find the right coverage for your needs.
Jewelry businesses can amend their Jewelers block limits of shipping coverage by requesting an endorsement to the policy. This endorsement can be a temporary or permanent change in the limit of coverage. It is critical that jewelry businesses always use the specified shipping carrier and method for which there is coverage under their respective insurance policies.
Log your shipments
Maintaining an accurate and complete inventory record is one of the best practices any jewelry business can adopt to help protect the operation from loss. Likewise, it is a good business practice to log all shipments, noting the recipient, merchandise details, value, and the shipping carrier used for each shipment.
In the event of a claim, it is common for insurance companies to request the following documentation:
• An itemized list of missing jewelry property;
• A signed statement from a principal in your firm describing the loss;
• Copies of the original invoices or memo agreements to substantiate the cost of the items; and
• Copies of all shipping documentation.
Some jewelers have helped facilitate their shipping claims process by submitting photos of damaged packages they received or videos of their shipping and receiving procedures recorded in their shipping area. Though typically not required, this kind of supporting evidence can be extremely helpful in resolving a claim in a timely manner.
Pack with loss-prevention in mind
Having confirmed the limits of shipping insurance coverage that are in force and establishing a shipments log, you are now ready to examine your shipping materials and packing practices.
Envelopes are notoriously unsafe, as they’re easily torn and more likely to be lost. Sturdy unmarked boxes are the preferred material for packaging jewelry shipments. Be sure you have boxes in various dimensions to accommodate shipments of different sizes. The recommended technique is to place the jewelry item(s) in an envelope, bag, or container and then pack that container in a small box.
Interior boxes should be labeled with the recipient and return addresses, as well as the tracking number, if possible. Next, pack the small box inside a larger box that is no smaller than a shoebox. Inside the boxes, packing materials should be easy for recipients to unwrap. By protecting and labeling the interior box, you may avoid losses due to damage in transit.
Once the boxes are secured, seal the exterior shipping box with gummed, reinforced paper mailing tape or pressure-sensitive shipping tape. Do not use string, cellophane tape, or masking tape to seal boxes, as these materials are easily compromised.
Disguise your shipping label and plan for the destination
As you create shipping labels, try to avoid language that identifies the contents of the package as jewelry merchandise. Avoid all words associated with jewelry. If you’re sending a package to J. Jones Jewelers, for instance, consider addressing it to ‘J. Jones.’ Disguise the return address in a similar fashion.
On the Receiving End
A few simple steps can help you avoid losing the contents of incoming shipments and protect yourself against any discrepancies between what was shipped and what you actually received:
• When you receive a shipment, take the time to confirm you are signing for the right number of packages and ensure the tracking numbers match.
• If an arriving package appears damaged or compromised, it could have been tampered with during shipping. Refuse it and return it to the shipper.
• Keep good records. Immediately log all incoming packages, including those you have refused. Record the shipping method, tracking number, and shipper’s information.
• Open carefully! Closely examine the contents and look for any items that might have been affixed to an inside surface. Examine all packing materials before throwing it away. You can’t be too careful or your jewelry could wind up in the trash!
• Unpack items one at a time and compare the contents with the packing list.
To help jewelers improve the security of their shipping and receiving practices, Jewelers Mutual has created videos for jewelers to share with their associates. In just two minutes, jewelers can share this valuable information on shipping and receiving and help secure their business. For more loss prevention tips, visit the Safetyand Security page at JewelersMutual.com.