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How to Ship Fitness Equipment, Apparel, and Supplements Without Breaking a Sweat (or the Bank)

Gym closures led to a surge in fitness equipment orders, creating unprecedented challenges for online retailers. How to ship these items safely and effectively? Let’s discuss.

COVID-19 upended daily life as we once knew it, changing the course of entire industries worldwide. Fitness is among those most affected, with gym closures driving exercise classes online — forcing endorphin enthusiasts to invest in home equipment.

Even for those who weren’t loyal gym-goers, a lack of consistent activity — from the disappearance of commuting to running errands — resulted in an interest in working out even among people who hardly exercised before.

So it’s no wonder there’s a massive demand surge for fitness apparel, supplements, and equipment. ZDNet reports that in April 2020, coinciding with the first COVID-19 lockdowns, online sales of fitness equipment suddenly increased up to 20 times compared to the same period in 2019.

Beyond retailers struggling to keep up, there’s a new problem that needs solving: how to successfully pack and ship heavy and oversized items, such as weights, treadmills, and stationary bikes?


Here are some strategies and solutions for getting customers the gear they need without breaking a sweat or a company’s budget:


How to Ship the Small Stuff

Demand for fitness-related vitamins and supplements increased drastically as more people developed an interest in getting in shape.

For small bottles of supplement capsules, poly bags are a versatile solution. Packaging doesn’t have to be done by hand, either. The Sharp® SX™ system offers turnkey automation for small- to medium-sized operations. Our new enterprise solution, Sharp® MAX-PRO 24, moves high volumes in moments, automatically opening bags, filling with the right amount of product, and sealing. Mailers are ideal solutions too, fully enclosing the items while adding little to no dimensional weight to the shipment.

For fragile products, such as supplements stored in glass bottles, cushioned mailers provide padding to prevent glass shattering if the package is accidentally dropped. Interleaving bubble between items, and lining the carton with bubble cushioning, provides protection for mixed shipments that feature plastic, glass, and multiple types of products and containers.

Foam can also be used to individually wrap products, such as glass bottles, for additional protection. Bulkier items, including plastic jars or protein powder, can be shipped in standard boxes with void fill. To maximize protection while maintaining a high level of packing productivity, Pregis’ AirSpeed Ascent system can create on-demand air cushioning with the highest levels of protection and presentation.

Demand for fitness apparel has grown drastically as well. Poly bag solutions are suited for sending large quantities of apparel to customers as they don’t add dimensional weight to the shipment.


Solutions to Ship the Heavy Stuff

Though they’re relatively small in size, weights present a big challenge for e-commerce fulfillment operations.

Sure, the products themselves are virtually indestructible, but the paint and finishes they’re coated in are not. They’re more prone to chipping or scratches than you may imagine. So if mailed in a box without any protection, there’s a risk the items arrive damaged. Don’t forget: Shipping charges are likely to be higher than usual due to weight and peak season surcharges, which affects packing choices and solutions.

IntelliPack Foam-In-Place Systems mold directly to the equipment, holding items in place and providing incredible protection while adding virtually no weight to the already heavy shipment, while Engineered Foam Plank can provide cushioning protection for heavy objects.


Shipping the Big Stuff

Larger equipment, such as weight benches, exercise machines, stationary bikes, and treadmills, are the most expensive to ship and the easiest to damage. Since consumers pay premium prices for these items, there’s an expectation that they arrive in pristine condition.

IntelliPack Foam-In-Place Systems give packers the ability to create custom foam that conforms perfectly to packaging and the items they are protecting, every time. Pregis PolyPlank fabricated foam is engineered ahead of time, molded to fit around products, and sized for the box they’re shipped in. Carefully assess your needs and budget to determine the best solution.

In addition to providing high-level padding, Pregis PolyPlank blocks and braces items in a box exactly where you want them, creating a premium unboxing experience. As an added bonus, the foam can be customized to appear in various colors to match a brand.

For items with screens or sensitive finishes that require further protection from scratches or fingerprints, Pregis PolyMask adhesive films can be applied to products prior to shipping, so they arrive in perfect condition.


Break a Sweat, Not the Box

There are many potential solutions out there for effectively shipping fitness equipment to customers without severely raising costs. However, keep in mind that money saved on haphazard packaging might lead to higher expenses down the road due to reshipments and replacement items.


Contact Pregis for a consultation on how to minimize damage or reduce shipping for fitness equipment. Pregis IQ can develop the perfect custom packaging solutions and even validate them through testing.