Ever open a package that you just ordered only to find the product is already broken or damaged before you even had a chance to try it out? Hopefully not, but it’s not as rare as you think.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, a StellaService Analyst opened up a personal shipment to find a huge mess — “my personal nightmare shipment” as she called it. As an analyst, her job is to stress test the customer service performance of ecommerce sites daily, contacting their reps and ordering and receiving products at their homes. Having seen hundreds of online orders, the analyst felt this order was worth highlighting.

B2C Stella nail polish

She ordered two pieces of clothing and two bottles of nail polish — they had been haphazardly tossed into a box, and at some point in transit one of the bottles had exploded, covering the interior of the box and the other items in a bright pink polish.

Customer support overnighted her replacement items after she contacted them about the incident, but that initial impression hit hard. Carelessness in fulfillment can extend beyond a single instance and potentially impacts whether a customer will return to shop again.

Chris Vodola, Client Development Manager at StellaService, has the following recommendations for retailers looking to avoid this from happening in their own operations:

  1. Isolate liquids and other breakables using padded poly bags or “jiffy” envelopes.

  2. If necessary, ship these types of items separately

  3. Know your HAZMATs (hazardous materials) and the regulations around their shipment. Here’s a good reference from the U.S.P.S.

  4. When choosing packaging and ship methods, consider the effects of extreme temperatures and rough handling may have on these items, especially during the holidays.

“By taking precautions to avoid damaged goods, not only are you saving your business carrier claim dollars over time, but you’re also protecting yourself from a potentially tarnished brand,” said Vodola. “Customers never forget bad experiences, and they’re not afraid to make future purchasing decisions while keeping those incidents in mind.”

This post originally appeared on Happy Customer.