These days, almost any product can be ordered online. In addition to traditional shipping goods such as clothing or books, online retailers also mail goods that require special protection. To ensure that products such as glass bottles or electronic items reach their destination undamaged, a few things need to be taken into account regarding the packing. The risk of damaged shipments can be minimized with a suitable box, the right filling material and strong adhesive tape.
Goods usually have to travel a long way before they reach the customer. On the way from the warehouse to the dispatch center to the customer’s front door, things do not always run smoothly. To ensure that the goods remain intact in spite of a long journey and external influences, online retailers should pay particular attention to secure packaging.
1) The right carton
Every delivery of goods starts with the choice of the right carton. Various factors determine which kind of packaging is suitable for shipping the goods. First and foremost, the right size is key – because a box that is too large puts the products inside at risk. If there is too much space between the product and the outer walls of the package, the goods can slide back and forth during transportation and get damaged by getting jostled around. The outer wall of the shipping box can also suffer pressure marks or, in the worst case, tear due to the edges of product cutting into it if there is too much movement. Due to the fact that parcel service providers such as DHL base their shipping price not only on the weight but also on the size of the box, the unused space inside also leads to additional costs that could have been avoided. Finding the right box size is usually not a problem though. Thanks to the numerous versions of FEFCO cartons, the right packaging size can be found for almost any product. There are also various special formats that are suitable for shipping very specific products. Especially for high-value goods such as watches or jewelry, it is recommendable to use specially developed shipping solutions.
Once the size has been determined, the question arises as to which cardboard quality is suitable for shipping. The more layers a cardboard box has, the more protection it
can offer – but the cost also increases with a thicker version. Using the more robust versions is therefore only advisable for products where additional protection is essential. For clothing or shoes, a single-wall folding carton is usually sufficient.
2) Correct arrangement
After choosing the right box, it is important to pack the goods in the correct order, because mistakes can lead to damage. For shipments with several products, the heavy items should be at the bottom layer and therefore placed first in the parcel. The lighter items go on top. This arrangement prevents slipping and crushing. If there are particularly fragile products such as cups or plates in the box, dispatch staff should make sure that they are placed between lighter goods so that there is not too much pressure on them when the package is carried or otherwise transported. To avoid susceptibility to shocks and external impacts, they must not be in contact with the outer wall of the box.
3) Filling and cushioning
However, careful placement is not enough to protect fragile shipping goods. Above all, the right cushioning material helps to prevent damage. Four main materials are used to enclose and protect the products.
- Bubble wrap
Bubble wrap is available in different versions. It prevents scratches and stains and keeps out moisture. In addition to the protection offered by the film, the air-filled bubbles ensure that shocks are mostly absorbed. The bubble wrap also saves material, as the protection is mainly provided by the air in the bubbles.
- Wrapping paper
Fine silk paper is suitable for protecting sensitive surfaces. The high-quality filling material not only helps to prevent products from being scratched, but also gives every parcel a high-quality look for a special unpacking experience. Retailers can use cushioning packing paper to protect shipped products from percussions. Pre-cut sheets of paper make handling easier and ensure efficient packaging. Due to the use of recycled paper fibers in its production, the packaging material scores particularly well with its positive environmental footprint.
- PE foam film
Anyone looking for an inexpensive and versatile solution will find what they are looking for in PE foam film. The closed cell structure gives the material a soft feel, which successfully absorbs shocks and other external influences. Another advantage: if used carefully, the product can be reused several times – this not only saves material, but also costs.
- Corrugated cardboard
In contrast to packing paper, corrugated cardboard consists of two layers of paper. A smooth and a corrugated paper web are glued together. The resulting cushioning allows corrugated cardboard rolls to be used in a variety of ways. Whether surface protection, cushioning or covering goods – there are numerous possible applications and both small and large goods can be easily protected.
Once the goods have been enclosed with the appropriate cushioning material and thus packed securely for transportation, the next step is to fill the remaining empty spaces in the package. Various cushioning materials such as bubble wrap, packing paper or corrugated cardboard rolls can be used for this purpose, as well as specially designed products such as cushioning chips, air cushion systems or paper cushioning systems.
4) Reliable sealing
Even the best filling and cushioning material cannot adequately protect the goods if the box comes open and the products fall out immediately after it is lifted. To prevent this, high-quality adhesive tape that can withstand heavy weights is needed. Although there is a wide range of different versions, a standard PP adhesive tape with high final adhesive strength is sufficient for most applications. As a rule of thumb, if the shipping weight is less than 12 kilos, it is sufficient to tape the top and bottom openings once. However, if the contents weigh more, the open ends should also be taped or a stronger adhesive tape should be used.
If the package is exposed to low temperatures, it makes sense to use a PVC adhesive tape with rubber adhesive. This is because although polypropylene (PP) can withstand most strains, it loses its stability under extreme conditions. In this case, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) provides a remedy. PVC adhesive tape is mainly used when storage or transportation conditions are difficult, as it does not lose its adhesive strength. However, as it costs more than standard PP adhesive tape, it is worth considering in advance whether a simpler sealing material is sufficient.
Just as with filling material, online retailers can also fall back on an environmentally friendly alternative. Paper tape, recycled filling material and sustainable cardboard boxes create environmentally friendly single-material solutions without compromising on quality or safety.
5) Special cases
The numerous cardboard and packaging materials are sufficient for shipping most products. However, some goods require special measures to be taken. One example of this is glass bottles. This is because the contents in particular make damage extremely problematic – the bottles often contain high-quality drinks such as wine, gin or other spirits. If they break, this not only results in avoidable additional costs, but a soaked carton and the leaking liquid also causes displeasure in the warehouse, in the shipping vehicle or with the customer. To avoid this and ensure the safe arrival of all types of beverages, bottle shipping cartons should be used. These offer two key advantages:
- Protection through PTZ certificat
When looking for the right bottle carton, online retailers should pay particular attention to PTZ certificate approval. This shows that the box is explicitly designed for shipping bottles. If something does break during shipping, the insurance covers it and there are no additional costs.
The various designs make the boxes suitable for shipping bottles in a wide variety of shapes and volumes. The modular design also means that both individual products and a larger number of goods can be shipped. With the help of insertable compartments, varying quantities between one, three, six or twelve bottles can be shipped.
But it’s not just fragile goods that require special handling. Retailers should not send other products, such as electronic items, without well thought-out packaging solutions. The right filling material plays a particularly important role here, as not all materials are suitable for this purpose. In the worst-case scenario, the friction caused by conventional plastic film can lead to electrical voltages that render technical devices unusable. This is where antistatic film ensures smooth shipping. With the right cardboard box and the right filling material, every product can be shipped safely to the customer. However, online retailers should always ask themselves in advance whether the goods require special protection and, if in doubt, resort to individualized solutions. If there is any doubt as to which shipping product should be used, it is worth consulting an experienced packaging service provider.
About the authors:
With over 150 employees, BB-Verpackungen GmbH is a reliable partner for all questions relating to packaging, packaging machines and shipping. As a customer-oriented full-service provider, the company from Stuhr creates individual solutions and helps to optimize shipping processes. BB-Verpackungen GmbH also offers a wide range of packaging, cardboard boxes, films, adhesive tape and packaging machines for both its private and business customers.