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Five export standard packing mistakes to avoid when shipping textiles

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Packaging plays a pivotal role in logistics and supply chain management. It's not just about wrapping a product; it's about ensuring it reaches the consumer in optimal condition. This is particularly important in the textile industry, where the products are often delicate and susceptible to damage.

Bangladesh, for instance, is a major player in the global textile industry. The nation ranks as the second-largest exporter of textiles worldwide. Specifically, its ready-made garment (RMG) sector contributed 9.25% to the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Fiscal Year 2022, official statistics revealed.

Despite the industry's success, challenges persist. One of the most prevalent issues is textile packaging and shipping damage. This can compromise the integrity of the products, potentially impacting the overall quality of the goods and brand impact.

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) analysis reveals that the cost of replacing damaged goods can be up to 17 times the original shipping cost. This concern is further magnified when considering the global scale of return deliveries. In 2019, the total value of merchandise returns reached over one trillion U.S. dollars globally, with the Asia-Pacific region alone accounting for around US$256.4 billion, according to reports by Statista. These figures highlight the critical importance of export standard packaging for textiles to minimise potential business financial losses. 

Five common export standard packing mistakes 

While a package’s journey beyond dispatch is out of sight, it is crucial to take proactive measures to protect items such as textiles against potential mishandling. 

Here are five standard packaging and shipping mistakes to avoid:

1. Using the wrong packaging material

The first mistake lies in the wrong choice of packaging material. The exterior packaging acts as a shield against potential hazards like moisture, dirt, and physical damage. This is particularly crucial for packaging in the garment industry, where items are highly susceptible to such threats. However, some businesses opt for cheaper, less protective materials like thin plastic bags or non-corrugated boxes. These materials are prone to tears, punctures and may not be capable of supporting substantial weight.

When choosing packaging materials for textiles it is important to consider the following factors:

  • The size and weight of the garments being shipped
  • The fragility of the garments
  • The length of the shipping journey
  • The climate of the destination country

Using the wrong packaging material for your packages of clothes can lead to a range of issues. These can span from the garments getting wet, stained, or torn to the package itself getting damaged or opened. Therefore, investing in the right quality packaging materials becomes imperative to ensure export quality and packaging standards during transit.

2. Leaving out empty spaces

Leaving empty spaces within a package is a common mistake that can lead to potential damage during export. This issue becomes particularly critical when packaging delicate textiles or garments, especially those with intricate embroideries. The spaces allow the items to shift and move, which can result in creasing, tearing, or even damaging the delicate embellishments.

Understanding how to package clothing for shipping properly is essential to prevent such issues. An effective strategy is to use filling materials like bubble wrap or packing peanuts. These fillers occupy the empty spaces, provide additional cushioning, and keep the garments secure and stationary throughout their journey. This step significantly enhances the protection of your package of clothes, helping to maintain their pristine condition.

3. Not labelling packages properly 

The absence of clear and accurate labelling is often overlooked in the export packaging process. Improper labelling of textile packages can lead to significant challenges in international trade, particularly when dealing with specialised fabrics such as heavily embroidered or delicate textiles. Customs authorities often require detailed information about the contents for proper classification. To ensure smooth processing, labels must clearly specify the textile's nature, including its weave, dye, or any unique embellishments. 

Alongside these specifics, it's also essential to include the recipient's address, contact details, and any special handling instructions for the textiles to ensure seamless delivery. Failing to provide these specifics can result in delays, mishandling, or non-compliance with customs regulations. This meticulous approach to labelling not only aligns with customs requirements but serves as an essential guide for everyone in the supply chain, from retailers to couriers to end-users. Adhering to these practices is key to maintaining outstanding export quality and packaging standards.

4. Not considering custom regulations

When shipping garments overseas from Bangladesh, it’s vital to understand customs regulations on shipping and packaging in the textile industry. Some countries have specific rules on textile shipping, often to protect domestic industries, promote sustainability, or mitigate health concerns. For instance, China, Vietnam, India, Japan and the European Union have restricted the use of Azo dyes, a harmful chemical often used in textiles. Azo dyes can release aromatic amines when broken down, substances that are classified as carcinogenic. The restriction of these dyes is aimed at minimising potential health risks to consumers and reducing environmental hazards, reflecting a commitment to safety and ecological responsibility.

Additionally, packaging materials must also be considered. In Washington, United States, a ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) packing peanuts and similar loose fill packaging took effect in June 2023. This restriction reflects efforts to reduce waste and environmental harm. Ignoring these can lead to fines, delays, or package seizure. These are just some examples to consider. Understanding and complying with the regulations set by your specific destination country's government is crucial to upholding export quality and packaging standards in the textile industry. This diligence helps avoid potential customs issues. Additionally, it ensures that your business adheres to the requirements, facilitating a smooth overseas shipping process.

5. Choosing the wrong global courier service provider

Choosing the right global courier service provider is a crucial step in shipping. They are responsible for handling your package of clothes or other items, ensuring they reach the destination in optimal condition. 

This decision directly impacts the importance of textile packaging, as the courier's handling practices, adherence to packaging standards, and timely delivery all contribute to maintaining the quality of your products and customer satisfaction. Therefore, it's essential to select a provider that values the role of proper textile packaging in preserving product integrity.

Perfecting the process: how to package clothing for shipping overseas?

Now that we've identified the common mistakes to avoid when packing your export items, let's summarise what we've learned about shipping clothes overseas.

Start by selecting the right packaging materials that provide ample protection. Use boxes or bags that fit the package of clothes well, and fill any empty spaces with cushioning materials. Complete and accurate labelling and compliance with the destination country's customs regulations are also essential. 

Remember, the package you send is a reflection of your business. By adhering to these practices and guidelines, you can ensure your textile products are packaged and shipped in a way that maintains their pristine condition. This ultimately leads to enhanced customer satisfaction and positively impacts your business reputation.

At DHL Express, we understand the importance of textile packaging and are committed to helping you navigate the intricacies of textile shipping. Our global courier services boast expertise in customs regulations across 220 countries worldwide. We also offer a variety of packaging supplies and boxes in different sizes to cater to your specific needs. Moreover, we are committed to promoting and implementing sustainable logistics operations to help reduce your carbon footprint. 

Don't let the complexities of packaging and overseas shipping hold your business back. Open a DHL Express business account today and let us help you ensure your textile products reach their destination safely, efficiently, and sustainably.