Guide to Packing & Shipping Fragile Items Overseas

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At some point, you must have spent a handsome amount of money to ship an item that requires extra care. Fragile items are one of those merchandise that require attention, and precautions must be taken to ship them safely.

In today’s world, where the market is flooded with excessive competition, you don’t want to disappoint a customer by delivering them damaged or defective goods. This could impair your brand’s reputation and might cause your e-commerce business to revenue loss. While shipping insurance can help you cover the loss, packing and delivering fragile goods in pristine condition can help you gain your customers’ trust.

So, if you are looking to ship fragile items internationally, read our easy guide to learn everything you need to know about the rules and process.

What are fragile products?

Products such as glass bottles, antiques, electronic devices, mirrors, etc. that are easily prone to breakage are considered fragile. Shipping these items will require more care and special handling due to its fragile nature.

DHL Express, one of the leading international courier services in Singapore, makes shipping fragile items overseas easier. We provide complete visibility on your shipment’s real-time status right from the time it is handed over to our agents to when it is cleared from customs and delivered to the receiver. While we ensure that fragile items are shipped and handled with extra precaution, in case of damage, our easy reverse logistics help customers return the product without any hassle.
But, before you head to transport fragile goods from one port to another, you need to determine your shipment’s packaging requirement.

For that, you need to check:

  • You need to add extra cushioning and apply a special handling label to protect your fragile package during transit.
  • Some regulated goods may need extra special packaging.

Easy guide on how to pack fragile shipment

1. Choose suitable packaging materials 

When shipping fragile packages, it is recommended to take extra precautionary measures and decide on the ideal external and internal packaging material to protect your goods.

a) External packaging 

DHL Express offers a range of boxes for packing fragile goods in various sizes and as per the size and weight of the shipment. You can choose from an array of boxes, flyers, and envelopes to match your shipment’s requirements.

  • Always use high quality corrugated cardboard boxes for parcels. For fragile or heavy items, double-wall or tri-wall constructions are recommended.
  • Avoid reusing old boxes as they may have lost some of their rigidity.
  • Look out for the manufacturer stamp which tells you information about the construction type and strength of a box. Ask your box supplier for more information as required.
  • Choose a box with the right size for the content being shipped as under-filled boxes may collapse and over-filled boxes may burst. 
b) Internal packaging

You will need to wrap your products in a lot of dunnage if they aren’t manufactured with strong packaging and are kept loose. Hence, wrap them in foam and strengthen the box walls with corrugated inserts for extra protection.
While airbags, bubble wraps, cardboard, and foam pellets/peanuts are commonly used as packaging materials, they all have varied qualities. To understand which material will be ideal for internally packaging fragile items, refer to this table below:

2. Apply the right packing techniques

Now that you have assessed your shipment and prepared suitable packaging materials, you can now apply some packing techniques.

a) Do not leave any empty space

  • To avoid any gaps within the box, place void fillers on the base to prevent the items from moving during transit which can cause damage to both your content and box.
  • Always be sure that the void filler materials you choose will be able to hold the weight of your shipment's contents. Otherwise, some materials may deflate or sink, leaving empty space within the box.

b) Leave 6cm distance

  • Always put the items in the middle of the box, at least 6cm away from any external walls or corners.
  • Take this into consideration when deciding on the size of the box relative to the size of the contents.

c) Wrap items separately and use dividers

  • Wrap each item individually and separate with corrugated inserts or other divider materials as needed when sending multiple goods in a single package.
  • Dividers prevent damage of individual objects during travel, especially when items are piled.
  • Place loose objects in an inner container to avoid the items splitting during transportation.

3. Select a sturdy packing method

The suitable packing method for fragile items is the box-in-box method. This uses a second outer box to provide additional protection. It offers adequate protection, the outer box should be 14cm larger than the inner box to provide sufficient over pack protection. 

We recommend using a double-walled box, but if you must use a single-walled box, make sure it is strong enough to support the weight of the contents. You can restrict the movement of the inner box by placing it in the center of the outer box and filling the void space on all its sides before packing the outer box for shipping.

4. Add special handling labels

Appropriate labelling is important when it comes to shipping fragile items overseas. Proper use of handling instruction labels will help to ensure the appropriate transport, handling, and storage of your shipment during transit. You can nail this step by following these instructions carefully.

  • A “fragile” item sticker or label will alert the couriers that the package must be handled with caution. Displaying the shipment labels clearly is important in ensuring that your shipment moves swiftly through the network. But, make sure that you apply it to the top of the box for easy reference.
  • Since fragile items are prone to breakage, you can attach a “handle with care” label to the box. In addition, attach a sticker with upward arrows that indicates the direction the shipment must be moved, handled, and stored. Do take note that any special handling label must be applied by the shipper prior to courier collection.

If you need further help regarding the packing of any fragile shipment, contact our certified international specialists today!