The Challenges of Shipping Perishable Products & the Benefits of Real-Time Visibility

in light of rising costs and disruption at every corner

IN LIGHT OF rising costs and disruption at every corner, managing a supply chain in today’s global economy is no easy feat. For retailers shipping perishable products though, all of these challenges are compounded by the difficulties associated with keeping perishable products fresh as they are shipped.

That said, visibility—particularly shipment condition visibility—can play a crucial role in loss prevention. The best way to ship perishables is with visibility solutions (such as real-time shipment condition trackers), making it easier than ever for supply chain managers to achieve complete shipment condition visibility.

Challenges of Shipping Perishable Products

Loss prevention is a primary objective for many retail supply chain managers. However, loss prevention is an even more pressing concern for retailers looking for the best way to ship perishable products. According to Packaging Digest, 11% of all cargo gets damaged in transit1; it’s easy to see how perishable or otherwise fragile products are especially prone to damage.

Tracking the real-time condition of perishable product shipments is vital to ensuring the safety and quality of perishable products in more ways than one. At a time when many retailers struggle to track their freight’s location, though, tracking shipment conditions in real-time may seem like an insurmountable challenge on its own.

The True Cost of Wasted Products

Losing 11% or more of your inventory to shipping damages can seriously blow your company’s bottom line on its own. However, the true cost of products that are damaged in transit does not end there. For one, damaged products can upend a company’s inventory management strategy; if you are counting on 1,000 units arriving at your warehouse and only 900 arrive undamaged, you may be unable to meet customer demand.2 No one wants to be in that position, so supply chain managers must find the best way to ship perishables.

Having products on backorder can be a hit to a company’s reputation and profits. Having spoiled or otherwise damaged products make it through to your customers, though, can cause even more damage to your brand’s reputation. One of the biggest problems created by damaged products is that it isn’t always easy to tell when a shipment has incurred damage. If damaged products slip through the cracks of your quality control process and get sent out to customers, the impact on your company could end up being much more than just lost inventory.

Therefore, wasted products’ actual cost often derives from financial and reputational loss. The good news is that in-transit shipment condition visibility can be a powerful way to avoid these losses, making tracking technology an essential part of the best way to ship perishables.

Types of Shipping Visibility for Perishable Products

The best way to ship perishables is to have end-to-end shipment condition visibility, but what that means for your organization depends on the products you are shipping. If you are shipping frozen foods, for example, the temperature of your shipments may be the only condition you need to track. Meanwhile, a company shipping inks and dyes might be far more concerned with monitoring the light exposure of their shipments than any other condition.

With that said, the types of shipment condition visibility that retailers might need to track include:

  • Temperature Monitoring – Shipment temperature is the most common factor that must be tracked by companies shipping perishable products. Any product that must be stored in specific temperature conditions needs to have its temperature carefully monitored throughout the supply chain.
  • Shock Monitoring – Fragile products that are prone to damage from hard impacts need to be monitored for shock absorption to determine when such an impact occurs.
  • Humidity Monitoring – Wood, fabric, and various other materials can be damaged by excess humidity, making humidity levels an important factor to monitor for some retail companies.
  • Light Exposure Monitoring – Certain pharmaceutical products, along with products such as film and ink, must be kept out of direct sunlight, making light exposure an important factor in monitoring these products.

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The Benefits of Shipment Condition Visibility

Real-time location and condition trackers enable retail companies shipping perishable products to track all of the conditions outlined in the previous section from a single user-friendly dashboard. Simply placing one of these trackers in your cargo container puts the power of complete shipment condition visibility at your fingertips.

Real-time location and condition tracking provides numerous benefits to shipment condition visibility. For starters, complete shipment condition visibility enables retailers to pinpoint products that have incurred damage and ensure that those products don’t go out to customers. Effective quality control becomes much more achievable when you can monitor the real-time condition of your perishable products.

In some cases, real-time shipment condition visibility can prevent shipment damage from ever occurring. If you notice that the temperature of your refrigerated cargo is rising, for example, you may be able to contact the carrier and have them fix the problem before it’s too late.

Lastly, shipment condition visibility makes it much easier to pinpoint the source of reoccurring damages. By informing you of when, where, and how your products were damaged, real-time condition visibility enables you to improve your supply chain, aiding in loss prevention.

Jim Waters is Vice President of Global Marketing at Tive.


1 Packing Digest. Mitigating packaging damage in the supply chain. 7/19/2022. Last accessed 7/20/2022.
2 Tive. Infographic: 10 Critical Challenges in Fresh Grocery & Supermarket Supply Chain. 12/15/2021. Last accessed 7/20/2021

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