Sometimes the smallest details have the biggest impact. In the shipping world, it doesn’t get much more important than packing materials, some of which fit in the palm of your hand. Overlooking this step may lead to broken or damaged shipments, angry customers and a poor experience all around
Merchants and online sellers who send fragile items like glass, and not-so-fragile items like books, can use packing materials like bubble wrap and packing peanuts to protect their shipments.
Choices vary depending on the box size and item(s) being shipped. The following are some of the more common and useful packaging materials.
Fragile items should be surrounded on all sides by packing peanuts inside of a larger package. This provides a buffer zone between the item and the sides of the package during transit. They should be packed tight enough to prevent the item from reaching the sides of the package, but not so tight that they prohibit the item from moving completely.
Other items may be substituted for packing peanuts:
- Bubble wrap
NOTE: newspaper should be used as a last resort as it’s heavier than packing peanuts and the ink can bleed through the paper and stain the items it’s protecting.
All hollow spaces within the item(s), such as the interior of a vase, should be filled with packing peanuts or other soft material to cushion the forces the item may receive. Picture frames, art frames, or any objects with glass frames should be shipped with the glass removed from the frame.
Items in a multi-item shipment (more than one item within the package) should be surrounded in some form of bubble wrap or protective material to prevent them from slamming into one another. Use caution when attaching bubble wrap to the item because customers may damage an item in the process of removing bubble wrap that has been tightly attached to an item. Colored tape can help buyers see where they need to cut in order to remove bubble tape, or attach the bubble wrap with rubber bands to make the removal process even simpler.
Additional exterior packing materials
- Cardboard boxes
- Mailing boxes
- Bubble mailers
- Padded envelopes
- Mailing tubes
- Stay flat mailers
- Wooden crates
- Tyvek envelopes
Additional interior packing materials
- Foam wrap
- Foam in place
- Engineered foam
- Inflatable packaging
- Corrugated inserts.
The package should be sturdy enough to last the whole journey and protect the item that it holds. You can further reinforce the exterior of the package with packing tape, but refrain from using masking, duct or cellophane tape as they tend not to adhere well to the outside of packages.