Packaging is the art, science and technology of enclosing and protecting items, in our case, for shipping. Proper packaging is integral to the delivery of undamaged goods. Today, most packages are sorted and fed through high-speed conveyors and bar code reading systems.
Your goal is to protect the shipment from damage while conserving time and materials. This is achieved by using the smallest boxes and amount of packaging materials possible, while providing adequate protection in accordance with carrier guidelines. The guidelines in this chapter have been developed from service guides available from FedEx, UPS, DHL and USPS along with our own “hands on” approach. We will cover these guidelines in 3 parts; the first of which is Outer Packaging.
There are lots of choices available for your package. The most common ones are: The corrugated box should be used whenever possible, but there are times when your item may be better suited for a different type of outer packaging. A relatively small item that is somewhat fragile like a CD in a jewel case may be better suited in a bubble mailer. Mailing tubes are great for items like posters. Wooden crates are best for heavy or extremely fragile items like a car engine or rare original oil painting.
Corrugated Boxes [Crushing Resistance = 8 (out of 10); no cushioning]
These are the most popular type of packaging due to its low cost, stackable and lightweight characteristics, while offering superior product protection.
You should always use new or almost-new boxes. The carriers can/will decline or reduce claim payments in the event of damage for used boxes. Shipping with old boxes reduces the amount of protection. If you offer “recycled” boxes, make sure that they are intact with no tears, rips, punctures or crushed corners.
Corrugated boxes also have different types of construction and strength ratings. This should be taken into consideration, especially with heavily insured items. You can usually find a certification stamp on the bottom flap which indicates the box strength.
Corrugated Mailers [Crushing Resistance = 9 (out of 10); no cushioning]
Corrugated mailers are similar to boxes, in that they are both made from corrugated board. The real difference between them is how they are assembled. Mailers typically fold and lock themselves shut.
Corrugated mailers are typically used for smaller flat items (i.e. books, pictures).
One big advantage to them is their stacking strength. When assembled, there are usually 2 to 3 walls, or layers, of corrugated board. These extra layers create excellent protection for your items.
Bubble Mailers and Padded Envelopes [Crushing Resistance = 0 (out of 10); has cushioning]
Bubble Mailers and Padded Envelopes are a good choice for shipping products that need some cushioning, but are not overly fragile. These items typically include CDs, DVDs or games.
Though they have excellent cushioning properties, they have no stacking strength. You would not want to use them for items that can be easily crushed. Instead use a corrugated box or mailer.
Mailing Tubes [Crushing Resistance = 0 (out of 10); no cushioning]
Mailing tubes are a good choice when shipping long narrow items like posters, blueprints, artwork or calendars. These tubes can also be shortened by cutting the tube down. (USPS Parcel Post requires additional handling)
Stay Flat Mailers [Crushing Resistance = 8 (out of 10); no cushioning]
Stay Flat Mailers, as the name implies, are flat mailers used for shipping smaller flat items that cannot be folded. They are great for shipping photographs, important letters and even CDs without jewel cases.
Courier and Tyvek® Envelopes [Crushing Resistance = 0 (out of 10); no cushioning]
These products are used to ship non-fragile items, such as soft goods or catalogues. Both envelopes are water and tear resistant.
Wooden Crates [Crushing Resistance = 10 (out of 10); no cushioning]
If you’re shipping an item that is extremely fragile (i.e. original oil painting), valuable (i.e. medical equipment), or heavy (i.e. car engine) you may choose a wooden crate. These offer the highest level of protection and can accommodate much heavier loads.
Wooden crates are not used very often, but you should have a plan in place in case one is needed. The most popular options are: a) Build the crate yourself; b) Hire someone to build one on-sight; c) Purchase pre-made crates. Building the crate yourself is the most cost-effective, but may not work well for you if you do not have the supplies or know how. It’s usually easiest, though more expensive, to have someone available that can come out and build the occasional crate for you.
Making sure your package is protected from the outside elements, as well as handling, is vital to making sure your package arrives safely. Make sure to call Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at www.gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 N Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!
You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!