Dunnage Defined: What Does it Mean, Types, & Uses


Shipping goods safely and securely is a priority for any eCommerce business or brand that ships product. Whether you’re shipping locally or across the country, or around the globe, dunnage can help protect your products from damage during transit. But exactly what is dunnage?  

Whether you’re looking to find out what does dunnage mean, or you’re wondering if and why you should use it, or you’re just curious about types and options, we’re sharing why considering dunnage is a critical part of addressing your shipment needs. 

Make sure all your products arrive in perfect condition, every shipment, by using the right dunnage packaging when and how you should. Read on to learn more. 

What is Dunnage? Dunnage Meaning

Dunnage describes materials and methods used to protect goods during shipping. It’s an important concept for any business that ships products to customers. Dunnage helps ensure the safe arrival of every product and item you ship. It can include anything from foam inserts and bubble wrap to cardboard dividers and wooden pallets. 

The goal is always the same: use dunnage packaging to secure your product so it arrives at its destination in perfect condition.

Who Should Use Dunnage?

Any business that ships products should consider using dunnage. This includes large-scale operations, like Amazon, and smaller businesses, such as Etsy sellers or independent online stores. Dunnage protects against bumps, jostles, vibrations, and any other hazard encountered during transit that might damage a shipment and disappoint your customer.

Why Use Dunnage? 

The primary reason for using dunnage is product safety and customer satisfaction. Dunnage prevents goods from being damaged while in transit by providing cushioning around them and preventing them from shifting inside. 

Additionally, dunnage can help reduce costs associated with returns due to damage caused by improper packing or inadequate protection during shipping – these cost savings can add up quickly over time. 

Finally, proper use of dunnage also ensures compliance with regulations by carriers regarding how packages must be packed before they’re accepted for shipment (for example, certain types of containers may require additional padding).

The right dunnage can offer:

  1. Moisture protection
  2. Damage protection
  3. Shock absorption
  4. Protect products
  5. Reduce returns
  6. Package products faster 

Types of Shipping Dunnage

There are many dunnage options available, and the right one just depends on the type of product being shipped and its destination (domestic or international). The trick is finding a combination that provides sufficient protection without adding too much weight or bulkiness (which can negatively impact your shipping cost, reducing your revenue substantially).

Types of shipping dunnage include:

  • Bubble wrap: one of the most popular types of dunnage for fragile items such as glassware or electronics; also great for keeping dust out.
  • Solid plastic – can be used to create custom shapes that fit snugly around any product, ensuring they stay put during transport
  • Air pillows – lightweight but provide excellent cushioning for small items like jewelry or other delicate objects
  • Wood chips – often used when shipping heavy items like furniture due to the ability to absorb shocks and vibrations that may damage products in transit
  • Foam inserts/pads – another excellent option for protecting fragile goods since it molds easily around whatever item you need to ship, without adding too much weight or bulkiness packages
  • Packing peanuts – ideal for filling up empty spaces inside packages so nothing shifts during transportation, which could lead to damage 
  • Kraft paper – provides an eco-friendly solution when packing smaller items such as books or clothing since it’s made from recycled materials and can be reused multiple times before needing replacing – making it a cost-effective choice too
  • Corrugated paper/cardboard dividers – good when you need more strength than kraft paper but still want something lightweight enough to not add too much weight; perfect if you need something sturdier than kraft paper but don’t want anything overly bulky
  • Plastic film – wraps tightly around products offering lightweight waterproof protection
  • Steel – provides maximum security against impacts, from racks to platforms, dunnage steel can protect and support heavy or bulky products when flimsy options just won’t do (although this type of dunnage does come at a higher price point compared with other options available on the market)
  • Custom options: available if standard solutions suit your needs perfectly – just make sure you check with your 3PL provider first before investing in any specialized equipment

ShipCalm Offers Dunnage Solutions

Dunnage is an essential part of the shipping process. Understanding its different types and uses can help eCommerce business owners ensure products are shipped safely.  

At ShipCalm, we understand the importance of shipments arriving safely at their destination. That’s why we offer a variety of solutions to protect goods during transit, including custom-made foam inserts and bubble wraps, pre-made cardboard dividers, and wooden crates/pallets designed for specific applications and needs.

Curious about pricing? Have any questions about our services? Contact us today – we look forward to helping you get your products shipped securely.