Dunnage: Why it is Important in Ecommerce Fulfillment


Dunnage is a small but vital part of the packaging process as it helps in protecting practically all types of cargo during the loading and transportation of goods. From filling the void spaces securely, positioning the goods so that they remain intact to protecting the sensitive cargo from moisture and ensuring that it holds its place while in transit, one cannot ignore the importance of dunnage in ecommerce fulfillment.

Why is Dunnage Used?

When the cargo is stored in a fulfillment center or trucks, ships, and or other vehicles, it is likely to face certain tough environmental factors. Dunnage bags help the goods remain in place and act as a shock absorber to protect sensitive items.

Five Main Advantages of Using Dunnage

Damage Protection

Dunnage prevents the packages from falling out of a truck, ship, or train. Proper dunnage is not a significant cost, but will protect your valuable and fragile items from any serious harm.

Moisture Protection

Sometimes, electronic gadgets can get damaged due to exposure to moisture. But proper dunnage in place will prevent such kind of sensitive items from getting spoiled.

Shock Absorption

When a cargo slides across in a ship, it can undergo shocks and vibrations. If these cargos contain delicate items, they are likely to get damaged. Dunnage helps avoid these mishaps.

Easy Handling of Heavy Items

Cumbersome items, such as a couch or beanbag, can prove difficult to handle during transportation. To make for easy maneuvering, shippers use wooden dunnage to distribute their weight heavenly, making them easy to carry.

Ensure Air Circulation

Shippers use packing materials to separate packages in closed compartments like refrigerated holds and ensure that the chilled air circulated freely to reach every corner of the hold.

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10 Types of Dunnage Material Shippers Use

From lightweight to heavyweight items, there is no shortage of materials that you can use to mitigate damage. Whatever you use depends on the type of product you want to protect. Here are the different types of dunnage options that exist that shippers use to protect items on transit.

1. Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is one of the most commonly used materials in the shipping industry. It comes in handy when shipping products such as electronics or fragile items made of glass. It can be reused many times as long as the bubbles don’t pop.

2. Foam

Foam is best for padding sensitive, fragile, or sharp pieces such as electronics and medical equipment. It is also excellent when lining small shipping envelopes to prevent the content from physical damage.

3. Air Pillows

Shippers use these to create barriers and keep items separate in containers, fill empty spaces, and keep them from sliding inside a box or container.

4. Solid Plastics

Solid plastics are a common type of dunnage material used in industrial, high-value shipping. They are expensive, but ideal for protecting high value-items since they can be modeled to the exact shape and measurements of the product.

5. Kraft Paper

Although kraft paper doesn’t guarantee a lot of physical protection, it’s commonly used for filling empty space inside a shipping container. It is also good for protecting products from moisture, dirt and dust. It is cheap, eco-friendly and reusable.

6. Corrugated Paper

Used in the production of cardboard boxes, corrugated paper is a popular material in the automobile and hardware industry. It supports a lot of weight and also protects items against moisture.

7. Wood

It is one of the heavyweight dunnage materials used by shippers for strong goods. It is used to create barriers between items, partition containers and keep packages traveling by sea from touching the ship’s deck. Plywood and rough lumber are good examples of the wood used. Generally speaking, it is recyclable and can be used for a long time.

8. Steel

Steel stands out as an expensive, heavyweight dunnage that’s used to protect high-value products. It is used to keep heavy items from damaging light products shipped in the same container or box.

9. Blurb

Blurb is excellent for filling empty spaces inside a shipping box. It can be made up in rolls or squares to provide a more compact cushioning.

10. Custom dunnage solutions

Businesses dealing with cumbersome products or products that have multiple pieces and uncommon designs can collaborate with dunnage providers who can design the right personalized dunnage materials to protect their products.

Bottom Line

About 34% of ecommerce returns are attributed to shipping damages. As such, retailers must use the right packaging and dunnage to secure, protect and prevent packages from any form of physical damage while in transit. Now that you know what dunnage is, how it’s used, and the different types of it, you should be better equipped to fix any shipping problems by packaging products with the right type of dunnage for your ecommerce fulfillment.


At DCL Logistics we offer customized fulfillment solutions for high-growth brands. Value added services is something we’re great at, including packing, kitting, assembly, and postponement work. If you’re looking for a modern 3PL to help improve your fulfillment strategy, take a look at  the services we offer. Reach out and send us a note. We’d love to hear from you.