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Logistics

Keeping Packages Safe and Clean

July 9, 2020

Steve Maul

July 9, 2020

Wipe stuff down, wash your hands. Repeat.  

This became our unofficial mantra back in March, when the COVID-19 epidemic hit full force in the United States. Hand soap and disinfecting wipes were suddenly the prized resources of our personal lives, just as ventilators and safety masks were for hospitals.

The mad dash to stay clean and protect our homes caused seismic disruptions to the supply chain, the likes of which nobody was fully prepared. As a result, grocery store fixtures like Lysol and Clorox wipes may be off the shelves until late summer.

Without these supplies handy, we’re left in quite the predicament. How can we be sure we’re staying safe from the virus -- and from spreading it further? And how can retailers and shipping companies maximize their efforts to protect those who are handling packages, whether sold in the store or delivered to their door?

According to research by the New England Journal of Medicine, viable coronavirus can survive on cardboard for up to 24 hours. For comparison, it can live on steel and plastic for up to 3 days, and glass for up to 4 days, varying based on the temperature and humidity. Because of this “poor survivability,” the CDC has stated that getting infected from your Amazon packages is highly unlikely. But protective measures, especially hand-washing after touching a package, is advisable for the foreseeable future to limit the spread.

What about the packages themselves?

According to recent updates from the CDC, wiping down each and every package and food container may be overdoing it. Customers wanting to minimize their chances of infection or spread can follow these tips when receiving a package:

  • Leave the package outside for more than 24 hours.
  • If you cannot do that, wash your hands immediately after handling it.
  • Open the box, dump the contents into a clean area, throw away the packaging and then wash your hands before touching interior contents.

As a business owner or shipping specialist, any added peace of mind will go a long way with your customers. The last thing you want is for your delivery to cause any sort of fear or hesitation, rather than excitement and relief.

Offering visibility into your supply chain may be a major step. Not only can this boost operational efficiency, but also let recipients know where packages have been and who has handled them.  

What’s more, it can protect both your brand and customers from counterfeit activity, which is more prevalent than ever during the ongoing crisis. (Read how pharmaceutical traceability is protecting patients from counterfeit and contaminated medicines, which will be especially crucial for COVID-related medications and vaccines.)

With LocatorX, you can log details about individual packages or groups of shipped assets across their lifecycle, for access by both customers and team members. This may include information about cleaning or sanitizing at various touchpoints. Insights such as these may keep your business and supply chain partners accountable in ensuring customer safety. Along with the direct benefits in customer safety, these efforts may contribute to your brand’s reputation and customer retention over the long haul.

Down the road, the materials you use in your packaging may also make a difference. Advancements in safe packaging have transformed the healthcare industry in recent years, while sustainable materials and modern designs have become a driving force in retail. The green packaging market is forecasted to grow by nearly $100 billion in spite of, or perhaps due in part to, the COVID-19 crisis. Making the leap toward greater sustainability during this time can reflect well on your company’s values, while also giving packages a cleaner appearance. Not to mention the positive impact on our planet.

Whatever you sell, and whomever you’re selling it to, the importance of proper handling and sanitation cannot be overstated. Along with the measures that your company takes, you should make a point to communicate these steps to your customers and partners alike. By everyone doing their part, we’ll come out of this faster and in even better shape than before.

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