Shipping preparation: a guide to packaging materials for products

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Imagine the following scenario: your customer orders a product from your company. After days of anticipation, the courier package arrives. But what greets your customer is a rude shock — the flimsy outer packaging encasing the product is torn. Meanwhile, the contents of the product within have leaked out as your product is only cushioned by a thin layer of fillings. To be fair, your product is amazing, but when it comes to whether or not your customer will make future repurchases, it’s a firm no, and for a good reason. 

Packaging matters beyond purely aesthetic reasons. From ensuring your products arrive at your customer’s doorstep in perfect condition to leaving a strong impression that encourages future repurchases, packaging contributes to your customer’s experience in more ways than one. To help you understand the value of product packaging and how it can be leveraged, this article explores the topic below.

Are packaging materials necessary?

Often, packaging materials can come as an afterthought for business owners. After all, if your products are of high quality, does packaging really make a difference? The answer is yes, and they may matter more than you think. As the first point of contact your business has with customers, product packaging serves as a valuable marketing tool for shaping customers’ impressions and influencing their purchase decision. In fact, according to figures cited on LDNZ’s website, more than half of the purchases in New Zealand are affected by a product’s packaging.

Its importance is further cemented as the popularity of online shopping grows. Without retail assistants to attend to these consumers in person, your product packaging becomes an alternative way for your business to interact with customers and create brand equity. Apart from this, having sturdy packaging that keeps your product safe minimises the need for your business to send replacements for damaged goods, ultimately translating into cost savings. By paying attention to your packaging material, you can elevate your brand, positively affect bottom lines, foster brand loyalty and save more money.

What are the different types of packaging materials?

With an understanding of the necessity of packaging, you may then wonder what packaging material you need. There are several types of packaging materials, and they are broken down as follows:

1. External packaging materials

External packing materials comprise the shipping box and protective layers that safeguard the items within the package, which encompass the following:

  • Corrugated cardboard box: This is a popular, eco-friendly packaging box made of biodegradable recycled materials that offer protection from moisture. Available in many sizes and thickness, they can be used for packing various products, from food to clothes.
  • Stretch film: A thin, stretchable plastic film that secures products to the pallet, so they do not shift during shipping. It also protects items from moisture, dust and dirt.
  • Shrink film: A shrink film is a plastic film that offers the same functions as a stretch film. However, while a stretch film protects industrial pallets, a shrink film is typically used for bundling consumer products such as drinks and sporting goods. As any tampering with the shrink film is easily noticeable, it is also commonly used for pharmaceuticals.
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2. Internal packaging materials

Internal packaging encompasses the materials used to wrap your products before placing them in the external packaging box. The typical materials used include:

  • Poly bags

  • Bubble wrap

3. Filling materials

Filling materials can be considered for packages requiring extra protection or those with void gaps to fill. The types of materials available are as follows:

  • Foam fillers, such as packing peanuts, styrofoam inserts and expanded polystyrene foam

  • Corrugated boards

  • Cardboard inserts

  • Paper fillers, such as crumpled paper, shredded paper, kraft paper and packaging tissue paper

  • Polyethylene foam sheet

Factors to choosing the right packaging materials

With diverse packaging materials available, you may be spoilt for choice and here are some factors that can guide you in selecting the ideal ones for your product:

  • Durability: This is especially important for fragile products, as durable packaging minimises damage during shipping.

  • Insulation and air-tight properties: These criteria are vital in ensuring that the food products are kept fresh. 

  • Leak-proof: Being leak-proof is important when shipping liquid products  as it protects contents from seeping out. 

  • Cost: A cost-effective material enables you to reduce packaging expenses. Consequently, you can avoid passing on material costs to your customers.

  • User-friendliness: By removing the hassle of customers unboxing your product, you can minimise customer frustration and enhance their experience.

  • Legality: Your choice of material must conform to state and federal requirements.

  • Eco-friendly: Based on a study by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious. As such, using eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging or getting your supply from sustainable sources can potentially elevate your brand image.

Steps to packing your products properly

After shortlisting the right materials, the next step involves packing your products for shipping and here are tips on how to do so:

1. Small objects

Smaller objects can easily be damaged when fitted within a shipping box of the wrong size. To avoid this, you can use an online shipping box calculator to guide you in finding an appropriate box.

2. Large objects

For larger objects, apart from choosing a shipping box with the right dimensions, you should also take note of the packaging box’s ability to withstand the weight of your products. If a suitable box is unavailable, you can dismantle your goods and pack them separately.

3. Fragile objects

For fragile objects, it is advised to wrap them up with several layers of bubble wrap and add sufficient filling materials to ensure they are well protected. After packing your items, be sure to affix ‘Fragile’ stickers on all faces of your packaging to alert the logistics personnel. 

4. Oddly-shaped objects

Similar to large objects, oddly-shaped items can be disassembled and packed separately. Otherwise, they can be fitted into regular boxes filled with cushioning materials to fill any hollow gaps. For larger pieces such as furniture, a film wrap can be used. 

Create the perfect customer experience with DHL Express

Equipped with the knowledge of the packaging options available, choosing the ideal materials for your products will be a breeze. Nonetheless, it can still be easy to find yourself running around in circles and dealing with angry customers if you have an inefficient shipping  process causing delays and, worse,  damaged goods. As a leading logistics provider with a global delivery network, DHL Express can be a reliable partner you can count on for seamless last mile delivery. By entrusting us with your courier needs, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that all international deliveries will be executed promptly and your packages will always be sent to customers in good condition. Create a DHL Express account today to take your business operations and customers’ experience up a notch.