You’ve got a great website with a beautiful design. You’ve spent hours upon hours writing award winning product descriptions. Your social media campaign has hooked some sales leads and you’ve done it. You’ve made a sale. But your work isn’t done yet. Sure, you could throw that priceless Picasso in a manila envelope and ship it off to Bill Gates. But you’ll be sorely disappointed when all that business work results in a torn masterpiece and an unhappy customer.
For this reason, packaging your product properly is just as important as developing and marketing the product. General guidelines can be followed to ensure the safety of standard products and specialty considerations can be made for more fragile wares. Suffice to say, lobsters and iPads are two different ballgames.
Start with the basics: namely, strong and appropriate packaging materials. Invest in durable cardboard boxes that act as the armor of your product. Chipboard boxes and boxes with broken flaps should be avoided, since both present structural flaws that could potentially compromise the packaging. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packaging tape, or paper tape to ensure a secure seal that won’t break in transit. Avoid duct tape, cellophane tape, string, or cord. Each of these materials can be compromised during the trip and loose material like string can become lodged in shipping machinery.
Inside the box, choose a packaging material with sufficient thickness to fill empty spaces and provide a reasonable cushion between the outer surface of the box and the material itself. Materials appropriate for the task include bubble wrap and Styrofoam peanuts. For more budget conscious businesses, newspaper does make a legitimate substitute. Ensure at least a 2 to 3 inch gap between the walls of the box and the product itself and stuff the packaging material tight so as to prevent the encased product from moving around.
Finally, add an extra layer of defense to the products themselves by wrapping them. If there are multiple products, wrap them individually with a little packaging material in between to prevent them from knocking into one another. For containers full of liquid, wrap with a water-tight material that will prevent a mess in the event it breaks. Smaller items like nuts and bolts should be wrapped in a sift-proof plastic bag and bundled together in order to prevent them from becoming lost in the packaging material.
If your item is extra fragile, utilize the two-box packaging method. Begin with a sturdy outer box and line the walls with 2 to 3 inches of packing material. In this outer box, insert a smaller, inner box and line the walls with 2 to 3 inches of packing material. Then wrap and insert the item, cover with packing material, tape the inner box shut, fill with packing material, and tape the outer box closed. The two layers of sturdy cardboard protect against puncture while the extra packing material helps insulate against dropping or shocks.
For perishables, attention must be paid to safe transport requirements. Begin by selecting a sturdy cardboard box and label it “perishable”, so that mail personnel know to treat it appropriately. In the box, use an insulated container, which will also conveniently act as packaging material. Inside the container, use a sealed plastic bag to prevent leaking, line with coolant packs, and wrap the perishable material in appropriate wrapping. Place the product, surrounded by coolant packs, in the plastic bag, seal up and send it out.
Flowers and plants require a little more specialized attention in shipment. On top of regulatory requirements, consider investing in corrugated trays or inserts with dividers to protect flower petals, trays of plants, and cushioning materials from squishing one another. In particular, make efforts to secure the inserts to the outer box through cable ties or staples, since even a little movement can damage the delicate contents within.
For computers and computer hardware, use what is referred to as “overboxing” or redundant packaging in order to prevent additional wear. If you ship items without the original packaging, be sure to use bubble wrap and securely tape around the outside in order to hug the contents. Additional pieces may be bubble wrapped in like fashion, but additional filler packing should be added to insulate these items from one another.
Additional items may include clinical samples and automotive parts. Clinical samples should observe all applicable laws and regulations and be clearly labeled for their contents. Use redundant waterproof bags and absorbent materials and take care to seal tight container lids. Automotive parts introduce considerations for weight and sensitive mechanisms. Be sure to insulate all delicate points on automotive parts, drain any fluids from pre-owned parts, and mark boxes with “heavy” so that mail persons know to exercise proper handling technique.
Even with all the packaging in the world, things can still go wrong. For this reason, parcel insurance coverage for delivery can help recoup losses in the event of a mishap. In addition to protecting against financial loss, parcel insurance can provide peace of mind for more discerning customers. Many electronic postage providers, including Endicia, offer competitive rates that make it worth the investment. Some even cover shipping or freight charges. Besides, any possible consideration that can be taken to ensure happy customers will pay for itself in the long haul.
With any shipment, be sure to consider the potential for breakage, surface damage, and blemishes. Exercise the old adage “better safe than sorry” and don’t skimp on the packaging. Be sure to insulate products sufficiently so that movement in transit is simply not an option. Good materials, an attentive eye, and recognition of standard safety protocols ensure that even diverse, delicate, and potentially dangerous items will reach their destination safely and securely.
For more insight, check out our ecommerce tips and trends page.
Endicia is a leading provider of internet-based postage services that make it easier and more affordable to ship parcels through the U.S. Postal Service®. We know that shipping can be complex and our goal is to simplify your shipping operations so you can focus on doing what you do best. Visit us at www.endicia.com to learn more.