Packaging and shipping is a part of the production process for any E-commerce business. It also can be one of the most challenging processes. There are a lot of factors that play into packaging and shipping; some that you have control over and others that you do not. The customer experience is no longer solely based on communication, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone or via the Internet. A thoughtfully planned and properly executed handling and delivery strategy starts with understanding the general packaging guidelines and shipping requirements.
Shipping Supplies and Equipment
Packaging and shipping cannot be done right without durable supplies. Stock up on packaging products of all sizes, shapes and capabilities. Standard boxes and cartons are a necessity, as are protective packaging fills like packing paper, bubble bags, peanuts, foam inserts, air pillows, stretch wrap film and more. These protective packaging materials can aid in absorbing shock and vibration to prevent damage during the shipping process.
Pro tip: Try out different sized boxes before deciding on one for shipping. A box that is either too big or small for its contents increases the risk of damage.
Some items require more specialty packaging like mailing tubes or insulated containers. Make sure you can accommodate loads of all types, from an important document to delicate glassware.
Packaging your items into a box and keeping your items in a box are two different things. Packaging supplies and accessories are the glue that holds your boxes together—quite literally. Packaging tape secures and seals your containers. Stretch wrap bundles items and works as a shield from dust or debris in the air. Shipping labels not only organize packages but the visual identification helps prevent mishandling once sent off. Plastic or steel strapping equipment makes shipping and storage easier by creating one convenient package held together.
Some packaging processes are simple and easy. Others require the use of machinery for the ultimate security. Here is some equipment that accompanies packaging supplies:
When it comes to security, the right supplies and equipment go hand-in-hand.
Pro tip: Like most, the shipping industry is always changing. Technology may not appear very advanced, but if you’re working with large production volumes, equipment like tape dispensers can expedite the process. Having the right supplies and tools in stock makes your operations easier and more efficient.
Shipping partners have various rules and regulations on the weight and size of packages. To comply with restrictions and determine postage payment, you need to know how to accurately measure packages. There’s weight, and then there’s dimensional weight (DIM), which refers to the cubic size of a package (how much space it takes up). Most shipping carriers compare the DIM to the actual weight of the package, and then select the larger of the two numbers for the final billable weight. Unfortunately, this can make postage payments unpredictable and entirely subject to the carrier.
Determining the DIM helps to predict and plan for costs. Once boxed and sealed, measure the length, height and width in inches. Then, multiply those dimensions to get the cubic size of the package. Pro tip: Most carriers round the cubic size to the nearest whole number. To determine the DIM, the cubic size is divided by either 166 for domestic shipments or 139 for international shipments. This number, if larger than the weight itself, is the billable quantity. All carries are different; be sure to check out your vendor’s policy to determine payment.
Your packages cannot be shipped without the proper shipping label. Rate calculations are determined by several factors including size, weight (or DIM), departure and destination location, tracking and insurance. Most carrier companies provide a price calculation that includes all of the above factors. Research all of the available shipping vendors to find the one that is most profitable for your business.
Once everything is determined, you need to properly label your packages. Create professional shipping labels with a printer or applicator. Make sure that your packages have the correct information and postage so that delivery doesn’t get delayed.
By understanding and complying with packaging guidelines and shipping requirements, your place of business can safely and efficiently ship products.
The product statements contained herein are intended for informational purposes only. Such product statements do not constitute a product recommendation or representation as to the appropriateness for a specific application or use. W. W. Grainger, Inc. does not guarantee the result of product operation or assume any liability for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of such products.