Shipment preparation: A guide to mailing boxes & packing materials

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Packaging plays an integral role in your e-commerce business. For example, having proper packaging and getting your goods to your customers in great condition can leave a positive first impression. Read along further as we explore the different types of packaging materials and mailing boxes, and the factors you should consider when selecting the right packaging for your products. 

Proper packing of your parcels not only ensures safety during the shipping process but also helps you earn the trust of your customers, since they know that they can rely on you for quality products.

While businesses can come up with creative ways for packaging to give a great unboxing experience, packaging your  products properly can save you money and achieve customer satisfaction at the same time. 

Why are packaging materials necessary?

Good packaging is essential for businesses for several reasons:

  • It helps protect the product from damages that may be caused during transit.

  • It saves you the money you will have to spend to send a replacement product in place of a damaged one.

  • An adequately packed product lets the customer perceive your brand as reliable and trustworthy, especially with the meticulousness displayed in ensuring the item is safely packed.

  • Good packaging helps retain customers as they are satisfied with your service.

What type of packing materials are used for shipments?

To pack a product properly, you must use suitable packing material. These materials can be divided into the following categories:

1.  External materials

The outer packing material not only makes up the mailing box but also refers to additional layers to protect the items within the package. Here’s a breakdown of the necessities: 

  • Corrugated cardboard box: This is the most popular packaging box used worldwide. Depending on the product you are packing, you can choose the different sizes and layerings of these shipping boxes.

  • Stretch film: An outer material that companies use to store multipacks of products, for example, water bottles, juice cartons and tissue rolls, stretch films help ensure load containment so that the products don’t collapse or move around during shipping.

  • Shrink film: While offering the same function as that of the stretch film, the shrink film takes it up a notch – the film is stretched and then shrunk over the product using heat to create a much tighter packing. These are often used on board games, perfumes and electronic products. Businesses can also opt for printed shrink films which they can ink on their logo or other relevant product or brand information. 

2. Internal materials

The two most common internal materials which you can use for packaging before placing your product inside the packaging box are polybags made from polyethylene and bubble wrap. Once you have wrapped the products with a suitable internal material, you can use internal package fillers to provide added cushioning to the product. You may consider bubble wrapping the products wrapped in shrink films too.

3. Filing materials 

Package filling materials are used to provide cushioning to products when placed in postage or mailing boxes. These packaging fillers include:

  • Packing peanuts

  • Styrofoam inserts

  • Corrugated boards

  • Cardboard inserts

  • Crumpled paper

  • Shredded paper void fill

  • Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS)

  • Polyethylene Foam Sheeting

  • Encapsulated-Air Plastic Sheeting

  • Kraft paper

What is important when choosing packaging materials for products?

Considering the following factors when choosing packing materials for shipment preparation can keep your products safe as they travel from your warehouse to the customer: 

  • Durability: Choosing a particular material will ultimately depend on the type of product. The packing material should be durable so that the product is not damaged during shipping.

  • Food items: For shipping perishable food items, select a material such as an insulated styrofoam container that will ensure the freshness of the product. Adding a watertight plastic liner can also prevent the food from melting or thawing. 

  • Cost: The packing material should not be so costly that you end up transferring that cost to the customer, who will not be too happy with this increased price. This also means choosing a widely available material so that you can get your hands on as much as you require.

  • User-friendliness: It should be easy to use during packing and easy to open for the customer.

  • Legality: The packaging material must conform to state and federal laws. A good place to learn more about circular economy packaging is the Australian Packaging Covenant.

  • Recyclability: Choose a material that will allow your customers to recycle; one of the many ways you can drive sustainable business operations and reduce your carbon footprint.

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Steps to properly pack your products

Packing various types of products calls for different packaging techniques, depending on the product's size, weight, and fragility. The following section describes how to pack these appropriately:

1. Small objects

Smaller objects are more likely to incur damage when not packed appropriately with fillers or when the right size of shipping box is not used. You can input the dimensions of your products into any available shipping box calculator online to determine the size of the package to use. Once you have packed your items, ensure the box is sealed with a strong duct tape. You can also paste the shipping label on the box to offer the courier service all the information regarding the products within.

2. Large objects

The aforementioned also applies when you ship larger objects, but it’s also important to pay attention to the weight of the box. If the shipping box is unable to withstand the weight of the object, you can instead wrap the product with shrink film several times till it is well sealed, and paste on the packing labels accordingly. Otherwise, the box may give way during transit. If the object can be broken down into smaller parts, you are advised to disassemble it and pack them in separate mailing boxes for safer shipping.

3. Fragile objects

Fragile objects require extra care during packing. First and foremost, decide on a strong and sturdy mailing box. Then wrap the product in at least two to three layers of bubble wrap. Avoid putting too much tape on the bubble wrap as it may cause the bubbles to burst, reducing their effectiveness. When placing the wrapped product in the box, ensure you have enough filling material to provide cushioning. Going for eco-friendly box fillers like recycled packing paper or even biodegradable plantable paper shreds can also help position your brand well among consumers. Ensure a heavy-duty duct tape is used to seal the box. Aside from the usual package labels, also add the ‘Fragile’ sticker on all sides of the box to alert the logistics personnel. 

4. Oddly shaped objects

Oddly shaped objects are those that are not of a typical square or rectangular shape. These include furniture, car parts, gym and sports equipment, and so on. These objects can be shipped in mailing boxes with the right amount of internal material used for wrapping the product, as well as box fillers. Larger items like sofas or armchairs can be wrapped with shrink film instead. 

How DHL Express can help you with packaging and shipping

DHL Express offers premium packaging and shipping services, which can help you ship goods from Australia to abroad. You can check the different packaging items and boxes to see which ones best suit your needs. We offer many different types of external packaging materials such as boxes in various sizes, flyers and card envelopes. Open an account with us today to get started.