There’s an art to packaging: both in the selection of it, and in how it’s used. Every business that ships products needs it, but they don’t always choose the right kind. That lack of understanding and planning can lead to high packaging-related costs that harm your overall budget—whether it’s from lost time, shipping overcharges, or excessive packaging waste. Here’s 9 packaging mistakes that are costing your online store a good chunk of money, and the ways you can help rectify them.
1. Always using the same packaging choices
Boxes are the staple of the packaging world for a reason—they’re strong, well-designed and reliable. But they aren’t the only option out there. With so many products being sold online, it makes sense to use shipping containers that match the product and its needs. Why send a book in a box that need lots of void fill, when you can send it in a bubble mailer? Choosing more appropriate packaging is the first step in reducing packaging wastes and costs.
2. Always using the same packaging sizes
Sometimes you really do need a box, but do you need to use one that big? Matching your packaging size to your product size will diversify your options, and keep your budget from being blown out of the water. If warehouse space (or the up-front costs of buying multiple box sizes) is a concern, think about using multi-depth boxes. You’ll be buying just one size of corrugated box, while being able to cut down box depth for products of varying height.
3. Using too little void fill
No matter how properly sized your shipping container is, it can be easy to go overboard on the void fill (and, admittedly, underboard on it too). Use a packaging material, like bubble cushion, to wrap and pad your product, then add in just enough extra material (like packing paper or packing peanuts) to keep it from moving. Using too much will waste the materials you’ve bought, risk increasing the box weight, and even cause undue pressure on your products.
4. Using excessive packaging materials
We’ve seen companies endlessly wrap corrugated boxes in metres of packing tape. We’ve seen reinforced water-activated tape used to seal mailer envelopes (we’re not kidding). And we’ve seen ½” bubble cushion used to protect a memory card. These are packaging mistakes that quickly eat away at a packaging budget—and what’s worse, they don’t even contribute any extra protection to a shipment. Stick to an appropriately-sized container, protect it with just the right amount of void fill, and seal it up with just enough packaging tape and no more. Your bottom line will thank you.
5. Not using automation strategies
The physical act of packing products takes time, which can slow the productivity of your employees and bloat your payroll. If you’re moving higher volumes of products, entry-level automation can help you regain a significant chunk of time, and rein in your expenses. Are you branding several hundred juice bottles with your logo on a label? Doing that by hand can take untold hours. Using a manual device that peels labels off their paper backing for you, or a powered machine that peels and applies the labels in one go, can speed up that process impressively. And there’s plenty of other ways that entry-level automation can improve your operation.
6. Forgetting about dimensional weight
The sheer number of packages being sent every day is astounding. That means delivery services need to maximize every square inch of space in their vans and trucks. One of the ways they do that is through dimensional weight, a way to charge for the delivery of a package based on its assumed weight. If you’re not aware of how dimensional weight truly works, your shipping budget can be consumed extremely quickly.
7. Not branding your packaging
Competition is fiercer than ever these days, and if there’s a way to stand out from the crowd, you need to take it. Branding your packaging is an easy way to do that, and takes less money and effort than you think. All you need is a custom label with your logo on it or some custom tape to seal your boxes. You can even try your hand at custom tissue paper for the ultimate unwrapping experience. You may be putting out a little extra money on your packaging, but the return on investment is worth it—brand recognition will increase, customers will feel appreciated, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you again. Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you card, either!
8. Not using frustration-free packaging
When a customer’s order finally reaches them, they’re eager to get at their new goodies. But a shipment that’s difficult to open can leave a bitter taste in their mouth. They may have to damage the packaging (a problem if they decide they need to return it), or it can annoy them to the point that they’ll consider never buying from you again. Incorporating frustration-free and easy-to-open packaging supplies into your shipments can turn happy customers into repeat ones.
9. Not using return-friendly packaging
When a customer makes a return, they’re likely to use the packaging their order came in. But if they had to damage that packaging to open it, that creates headaches for everyone. They’ll have to jury rig it sealed, and that runs the risk of damaging the products inside—costing you money when you repair them or just write them off. Using return-friendly packaging makes it easier for your customers to send something back, while ensuring it’s got the protection it needs to make the trip. You’ll save money, your customers will be happy, and your reputation stays in one piece.
It’s absolutely worth the time to audit your packaging choices and see where you can improve on your packaging strategy. Correcting your packaging mistakes now means better productivity, minimized packaging waste, and a stronger budget in the long run.