The complete packing guide for international shipping

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Packaging in the e-commerce sector is more than a means to protect items; it's a fundamental component of the customer journey, setting the tone for their initial interaction with your product. However, when considering international shipments, the significance of packaging grows, as it directly influences not only the customer experience but also your shipping costs.

While innovative and visually appealing packaging can amplify the unboxing experience, it's paramount to prioritise the functional aspects of it, particularly in an international context. Indeed, the repercussions of insufficient packaging can lead to additional costs due to damages incurred during long-distance transit. 

Efficient packing techniques and ample packaging materials do more than facilitate the shipping process; they serve as a cost-effective strategy, minimising the risks and related expenses associated with global shipments. This in turn preserves product integrity, thereby boosting customer satisfaction and fostering trust in your business on a worldwide scale.

In this DHL Express guide, we aim to equip you with the knowledge on how to package your items effectively and efficiently for shipping. These recommendations are designed to address the challenges that businesses sometimes face when shipping their products.

Evaluating your shipment

Prior to packing, it's essential to understand your shipment's specific characteristics:

  • Weight and shape: The weight and bulk of your shipment can guide you towards the right external packaging. Heavier items might necessitate a stronger mailing box or an additional layer of packaging.
  • Odd-sized shipments: For unusually shaped items, opt for a box that provides ample space for your shipment and extra room for internal packaging materials to eliminate excess spaces.
  • Valuable shipments: If your shipment carries valuable items, consider implementing additional protective measures such as wrapping the item and using two distinct types of inner packaging materials.
  • Fragile shipments: When shipping fragile items, it's advisable to take extra precautions, particularly to protect the item's vulnerable points.

Choosing the right packaging materials

When packaging a product for shipping, the choice of packing materials is crucial to ensure that the item remains safe and secure during its journey. These materials are typically classified into three categories:

1. External materials

These refer not only to the mailing box itself but also to the additional layers used to protect the items within the package. Key external materials include:

  • Corrugated cardboard box: This is a universally preferred packaging box due to its availability in various sizes and layers suitable for different products.
  • Stretch film: Frequently used for multipacks of products like water bottles, juice cartons, and tissue rolls, stretch films ensure that the products remain stable and do not collapse or shift during shipping.
  • Shrink film: Providing a similar function as stretch film, shrink film is stretched and then heat-shrunk over the product to create a tighter packing. 

2. Internal materials

Before placing your product inside the box, it's important to wrap it using appropriate internal materials. The most common are polyethylene-made bags and bubble wrap. After wrapping the products, internal package fillers can be used for extra cushioning. Bubble-wrapping products already wrapped in shrink films is also an option.

3. Filling Materials

When products are placed in mailing boxes, various package fillers are used for cushioning. These include:

  • Packing peanuts
  • Foam inserts
  • Corrugated boards
  • Cardboard inserts
  • Crumpled paper
  • Shredded paper void fill
  • Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS)
  • Polyethylene foam sheeting
  • Encapsulated-air plastic sheeting
  • Kraft paper

Do note that the choice of filling material should be based on the nature of the product being shipped and its packaging requirements; we will be covering this in more detail in the next section, as we share tips on how to optimally use these materials to secure different types of products.

Tips on how to pack certain items

You might be wondering; how do I pack certain items? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Clothes: When you pack clothes for shipping, fold them neatly to minimise creases and save space. You can also use vacuum seal bags to reduce the size of your package.
  • Shoes: When shipping shoes, use the original box if possible. This provides a sturdy container and reduces the chance of damage. Add packing paper or bubble wrap to fill any empty space in the box.
  • Fragile Items: Packing fragile items for shipping requires extra care, especially when they are made of materials such as glass. Wrap each item separately with bubble wrap, then place them in a box filled with packing peanuts or foam inserts for added protection.
  • Food: When shipping dry or processed food items, ensure they are securely sealed in airtight packaging to preserve freshness and prevent contamination. Consider using rigid containers like corrugated boxes for an added layer of protection. Moreover, utilise bubble wrap or air pillows within the box to secure the item, preventing movement during transit. 

Medicine and Supplements: When shipping supplements or medicine, it is advisable to pack them in a small box and then place that box in a larger one with cushioning materials such as expanded polystyrene foam or polyethylene foam sheeting. This arrangement helps protect the items from impact and temperature changes. Kraft paper can also be used as a suitable option for wrapping and cushioning the smaller box.

Common packing mistakes to avoid

Ensuring the safe transit of your items requires attention to proper packing techniques. Many businesses, however, make common errors that can compromise the integrity of the shipped products. Here are some of those mistakes and tips on how to avoid them:

1. Not using the right kind of box

Choosing the wrong type of mailing box for your shipment can result in expensive losses. To ensure safe delivery, opt for a rigid box that is strong enough to withstand pressure and impacts during transit. It should also be the correct size and shape – not too small as it may cause the crushing of shipped items, and not too big as it can cause the items to move around inside the box. 

If a custom-made box is required, it should be designed according to your specific packing requirements. For old boxes, check for wear and tear, as they may be weakened due to frequent use. 

2. Underfilling or overfilling boxes

A common mistake is underfilling or overfilling the boxes. Underfilled boxes can easily collapse under pressure, causing potential damage to the items inside. Conversely, overfilled boxes can burst at the seams, leading to exposure or loss of products.

Aim for a snug fit where the items are secure but not excessively squeezed. Use suitable filling materials in your packaging to eliminate any voids in underfilled boxes while ensuring that overfilled boxes do not strain their seams or closures.

3. Insufficient cushioning

Fragile items demand extra padding to safeguard them from impacts during transit. Neglecting to provide sufficient cushioning can result in breakages or damage. Use ample bubble wrap, foam inserts, or other cushioning materials to create a protective layer around the product.

The cushioning should be enough to prevent the item from moving inside the box and absorb shocks from any bumps or drops that might occur during shipping.

4. Not labelling fragile items

If your package contains fragile items, it's crucial to label it appropriately. Omitting this step can lead to improper handling during shipping, resulting in potential damage. Make sure to label all sides of the mailing box with noticeable "Fragile”, “Handle with Care”, or “This way up” stickers. This will alert the logistics personnel to handle the package with care.

5. Not including a document pouch

The absence of an external document pouch can lead to important information like the order invoice getting damaged or lost during transit. Attaching a sealed document pocket on the outside of the package is a simple way to prevent this. 

The pocket can contain shipping documents related to the order, such as invoices, packing slips, return forms, and other information. This is important for international shipments, as it helps ensure compliance with customs requirements.

Sealing your package properly 

After packing your items securely, it's time to seal the mailing box. Ensure all edges and seams are taped, with additional reinforcement along the edges, as these areas are particularly susceptible to compression during shipment. Inadequate sealing of packages can result in them opening during transit, exposing the contents to potential damage or loss. It is also important that you use high-quality packaging tape. 

Refrain from using masking or cellophane tape, as they are not durable enough to withstand the rigours of shipping; instead, opt for duct tape as it offers better adhesion and tear resistance.

Wrapping up with DHL Express

Navigating through the complexities of packaging and shipping can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to ensuring your package passes security checks both in Thailand and in the destination country. 

Every package undergoes rigorous checks to ensure safety and compliance with international regulations. Therefore, it's imperative to have them correctly sealed, labelled, and documented to avoid any delays or complications.

Here's where DHL Express can make a significant difference. We provide top-notch packing and shipping services to facilitate smooth shipments from Thailand to overseas destinations. With an array of packaging options, flexible delivery times, and real-time tracking, your packages are guaranteed to reach their destinations safely and quickly. 

Moreover, our team of experts is always ready to assist you with packing tips and guidelines to ensure your shipment is as secure as possible. Open a business account with us today and make your shipping process seamless and worry-free.