Shipping goods is not as simple as chucking an item into a box of the right size and sending it forward. If everyone transported every shipment in that fashion, many would arrive in terrible condition. A wide variety of packaging materials exist to hold shipped items and provide additional protection against the stresses of the transportation process.
Fresh-faced employees of shipping companies and inexperienced eCommerce store owners may not always be clear on which packaging materials should be used in which situations. While there is no all-purpose solution, we can at least advise you on how to choose the right ones for your shipments. Here are a few key details to consider when picking packaging materials.
The Size of Your Packages
“Size matters not” may be a pertinent aphorism when judging a person’s abilities based on their physical stature. When it comes to the shipping and transportation of goods, however, size matters a great deal. Every item you ship must be placed in a container that corresponds with its length, width, and height. They should not be too large, though they may need some extra space for cushioning. They should definitely not be too small. Say it with us now: their size should be just right.
With that said, you do not need to fret about ordering custom-sized containers for every distinct product in your inventory. Instead, lump everything you sell into a few size categories, then order packaging materials that can neatly enclose even the largest item in each group. You may use boxes, bags, or even envelopes.
You can also use packaging materials in creative ways. For example, an examination of sales data may reveal that customers who buy Product A also tend to purchase Products B and C. You could offer the trio as a discounted bundle and ship more items at once with a single container. Incidentally, this example also shows that the containers you use may not just save you money, but make you money.
The Vulnerabilities of Your Shipments
The transportation process can be rigorous and intense, which can be bad news for customers who order fragile products. Thankfully, it does not have to end in shards, scuff marks, and spills. Shipping companies can use an array of packaging materials to protect the contents of their shipments. Even a layperson will likely be familiar with many of them from their own shopping experiences: bubble wrap, Styrofoam planks, shipping wrap, and more.
The key is to know which ones are best suited for the unique risks of the situation. Objects made from glass and similarly fragile materials require cushioning, and plenty of it. Surrounding it in layers of bubble wrap can keep them from moving around in the container. The practice can also prevent damage from heavier objects that bump into the box. This is just one example that shows the thought process you should bear in mind.
The Hazards of Your Materials
Some items are riskier to transport than others — so risky, in fact, that improper packaging can result in an environmental disaster. The US Department of Transportation classifies many such items as “hazardous materials.” Potential hazards that would qualify a shipment for this designation include fires, corrosion, the release of toxic chemicals or radiation, and even explosions.
The DOT imposes its own set of strict regulations, known as 49 CFR, for hazmat transport within the United States. Global organizations also enforce similar rules for international hazmat shipping by air and by vessel. As a member of this field, you must be aware of which products in your line-up would be considered hazmat. Once you identify them, you must stock up on packaging materials that minimize the hazard in accordance with 49 CFR and any other applicable regulations.
Choosing the right packaging supplies in these situations is crucial. For one, you have a moral responsibility to provide as much safety as possible. Anything less than the utmost protection may cause damage to the health of workers, civilians, and the environment. For another, you may face legal and financial repercussions for any violations of hazmat regulations.
The Packing Budget of Your Company
Budgeting is difficult, especially for those who have never managed a business before. The areas where you believe spending to be most necessary may not need as many funds as you allocate. Similarly, the areas where you believe sacrificing is okay may be more important than you initially believed. Now imagine that you spent a great deal of money on your shopping site, your products, and your marketing. All these efforts to attract and retain customers may fall short if your goods arrive in shabby boxes and poor condition.
Packaging materials are an unavoidable expense for eCommerce. Unlike with physical stores, customers cannot stop by your online store and pick up their purchases in person. Given that status, you should reserve a not-insignificant amount of your funds for shipping supplies — and good ones.
Of course, you should not have to break the bank, either. We do not live in an ideal world where even new and small businesses have easy access to the highest-quality packaging materials. As with all other money matters, you must learn to strike a balance between affordable and excellent. Consider which containers and protective features would best match your needs. Then, look for the products that will save you the most over time without compromising the most important factors.
Find All Kinds of Packaging Materials at Tigerpak
No single type of packaging material is right for every shipment and every situation. Different combinations of containers and protective features will confer different benefits. Your job is to select the ones whose strengths are best suited to the product or products at hand.
Another part of your job is to have a variety of packaging materials at hand, as well as supplies like packing tape and wraps. Tigerpak can be your one-stop online shop for many different types of high-quality packaging materials, all available at affordable prices. Shop with us and make the right choices for your business, your products, and your customers.