You Break It, You Buy It? Packaging Tips to Minimise Damage in Transit

After a parcel leaves your warehouse, it will be loaded on and off of trucks, move through automatic sorting machines and passed from hand to hand before arriving at your customer’s door. And if you haven’t packed the order properly, there’s no telling what condition it will arrive in. 

Presentation is crucial for eCommerce businesses, and a torn satchel or broken box is not a good look. Beyond that, if the product inside is damaged, you’ll bear the cost of replacing it, and the customer could still be left disappointed by the experience. 

To avoid all that, proper packing is key. Here are some tips to help you get it right:

Choose the right outer packaging

The first step is to choose the right packaging for the item you’re shipping. From soft and flexible satchels, to padded envelopes, to mailing tubes, to rigid boxes and cartons, there’s a range of different packaging material available, but they’re not interchangeable. The right packaging will depend on the size, weight, shape and potentially, value of the item inside.

  • Satchels and mailing bags: These soft and flexible bags are best-suited to soft and lightweight items, such as apparel. If they are used to pack anything heavy or with sharp corners, they could easily tear and leave the contents exposed. We recommend opting for an eco-friendly option.
  • Padded envelopes: These are best suited to relatively flat and regularly shaped items that may not need the full protection of a cardboard box, such as books. Avoid putting anything inside that could get crushed during transport, such as boxed makeup products. If you’re shipping something flat that can’t get bent, you can add two pieces of stiff cardboard on either side. 
  • Mailing tubes: Posters, artwork, large documents and other items that should not get bent in transit can be rolled and shipped in packing tubes. 
  • Cardboard boxes: Irregularly shaped or heavy items and anything that needs extra protection should be packed in a cardboard box. Double- or triple-layered cardboard boxes should be used for heavier items. You’ll also need to pay extra attention to internal packaging when using boxes, since loose items can get damaged if they knock against each other. 

Wrap all items separately

If a parcel contains multiple items, it’s a good idea to wrap them separately to prevent them from rubbing against each other and potentially causing damage in transit. You can use paper, tissue or plastic bags to wrap each item, but if it’s something that could be affected by dirt or water — if the outer packaging gets wet or torn — then you should opt for plastic bags. Use bubble wrap or an eco-friendly alternative around any items that need a little extra protection. 

Fill any empty space 

When it comes to delivering your parcels in good condition, empty or ‘dead’ space is the enemy. Satchels that are not closed snugly around their contents can get caught in sorting machinery, and items moving around freely in boxes can get bent or broken. Choosing the right size packaging for the items you’re shipping is crucial. While the satchel, envelope or box should not be too small — you don’t want it to burst open during transport — it should be just big enough to contain the items you’re sending plus some protective cushioning. This also ensures you’re not paying extra to ship empty space. 

When using satchels, you should wrap and tape the satchel around the items inside. When using cardboard boxes, you should use filler material, such as air pillows, foam or cardboard inserts, or shredded cardboard, to cushion the items and fill empty space.    

Seal your parcel properly 

The final step to packing your order properly is to seal it. Most satchels and padded envelopes come with their own adhesive strip, but when sealing a box, you’ll need to use packing tape. Make sure it is wide enough to securely hold the flaps of the box together and that you use a sufficient amount on all sides. Consider using reinforced and water-resistant tape to ensure it holds up. 

For most items, these four steps will help ensure your customers receive their order in good condition. But for especially fragile items, you might need to take your packing game to another level. Here are some additional tips for packing fragile items, according to Australia Post.

The truth about ‘fragile’ stickers

The first thing to note is that ‘fragile’ stickers or labels are not really a thing (other couriers might offer a fragile service), so the best way to protect the order is to pack it properly. 

When packing a fragile order, it’s a good idea to use the ‘box-in-box’ method. First, pack the order following the same steps above: wrap each item individually, using additional cushioning, such as bubble wrap, then place them inside the right size box or satchel, making sure to fill any empty space. Then, place this package inside a larger box, using void fill on all sides, and seal it securely. 

Consider a protection plan

Ensuring your deliveries are protected when things don’t go to plan is fast becoming a need-to-have and not just a nice-to-have. When choosing a provider for parcel protection, watch out for hidden fees, reasonable claim requirements and compare value, not cost.

Shippit’s low-cost Transit Protection makes it easy to protect all your online deliveries, no matter who you ship with or what you ship. Transit Protection is simple, there’s no fee to file a claim, retail value coverage and a fast claims process, so you can focus on selling.

With these tips in hand, you’ll be a packing pro in no time!