How Online Retailers Can Help Deter Package Theft

With the advent of online shopping has come a rise in package theft from consumers’ porches and doorsteps. What steps can retailers take to help deter this crime? 

It seems that almost nothing can be done to stop the so-called porch pirates who are truly determined to steal from a customer’s front door. Of the preventative measures that can be taken, most are left up to the consumers themselves. Fortunately, there are a few steps that ecommerce retailers can take to assist in stopping theft at the doorstep.  

Our Online Spending Habits 

Before diving into how to reduce package theft, it’s important to know just how frequently this crime occurs, as well as the online shopping habits of many Americans. In a 2019 survey of internet consumers, C+R Research discovered many interesting trends regarding how much we spend on the online and what happens to those packages after they arrive at our doors. The survey found that 44% of individuals have a package delivered to their home at least once a week and 45% say they receive a package at least once a month. On average, Americans spend approximately $222 on online purchases each month. 

How Many Packages are Taken? 

The C+R Research survey determined that 36% of individuals who shop online have had a package stolen from their front door at least once. On the other hand, 31% report that their neighbors have had deliveries stolen and 56% know someone else who’s had an item stolen. The average cost to replace stolen ecommerce deliveries is approximately $109, most of which falls on the retailer, especially considering how 83% of people who have a package stolen from them will contact the seller and 73% of theft victims report that they did in fact receive a refund for their purchase.  

What Thieves Look For 

It’s evident that packages are disappearing from porches across the country. While any delivery can easily become the target of unsavory individuals, there are a few key elements that thieves are likely seeking out above anything else. These include oversized packages, branded boxes, and messages that indicate what kind of products are sitting on the porch. The reasons behind this logic are fairly simple. Large boxes tend to contain expensive products, such as a television or other electronics. Branded boxes indicate that a brand-name, high-value item is sitting out in the open and up for grabs, while messages like “Fragile” or “This Side Up” might mean that something delicate and expensive is inside the box.  

Retailers Can’t Control Deliveries, So How are They Supposed to Help? 

It often feels like combatting porch pirates is a losing battle, especially for ecommerce retailers. The most obvious methods to preventing theft require effort from the buyer rather than the person or company selling goods. Consumers can utilize doorbell cameras, security systems, or storage lockers to help ensure their deliveries reach them, but it sometimes feels like sellers get the short end of the stick – they feel like they can’t do much to stop criminals and are stuck with the bill when thieves strike. While the task may seem daunting, there are a few measures that retailers can take to help curb the rise of porch piracy. 

Packaging Strategies to Combat Theft 

Fortunately, there are a few different packaging supplies that can be used to make items look less appealing to criminals without sacrificing effectiveness or attractive design for the customers who actually paid for the products. One such example is water-activated tape. This type of adhesive not only provides an instant bond to corrugated surfaces, but is also difficult to remove and shows clear evidence when it has been tampered with, unlike clear carton-sealing tapes. Further, water-activated kraft paper tape cannot be reapplied once someone has removed or attempted to remove it, which can be an impressive deterrence to thieves or pilferers.  

Another option to consider is opaque shrink wrap, which can be placed around your shipping boxes in order to cover any marketing or branding printed on the material itself. This means that individuals who might be patrolling the neighborhood looking for a box to swipe won’t be able to immediately recognize what’s stored inside. It also means that you can continue to print your logo and other brand information on the box, allowing your customer to receive the full benefit of your eye-catching visual marketing efforts.  

Deterring Package Theft is Best 

Remember how we mentioned that the average cost to replace a single stolen package adds up to about $109? Unfortunately, the bulk of that expense falls to the seller. It’s only logical that retailers take every step possible to keep these excess costs at a minimum. While we may never be able to completely eliminate the porch pirate problem, we can do our best to prevent it and protect our bottom lines.