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How to package and prepare your parcel for shipping

Ensure that your parcel arrives on time and in perfect condition at its final destination

Your products are valuable and you want them to reach your customers in one piece and on time.
While we do everything in our power to make sure that your parcels arrive in good condition, your parcels are likely to travel a great distance, moving from one truck and automated conveyor belt to another. Therefore, packaging your products safely with the labels displayed correctly is essential to ensure a timely and safe arrival at their final destination.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when preparing your shipments. Take a look at our tips below or download the full infographic for a quick check off as you prepare your parcel.

 

1. Choose the right box

Use a new rigid corrugated double wall cardboard box and choose the right size for the content. A box that is just the right fit for the size of your products will be too small as you won’t be able to wrap your items properly and use cushioning material.
If you are reusing a box, you need to check that the box isn’t damaged (all flaps are intact, outer box not ripped or compressed) and you should remove any old labels to avoid errors when the barcodes are scanned automatically on sorting belts. Note that cardboard boxes with dangerous goods labels should not be reused.

2. Pack your items

To avoid possible breakage when items shift around in the box during transit, it’s best to wrap all items separately with bubble wrap or foam.
You should also use a good amount of cushioning material to keep the content in place, such as brown Kraft paper, air cushions or foam, and be sure to fill in the empty space with packing peanuts.

You know you’ve used enough material when you do the shake test: if you don’t hear the contents of your parcel moving around when shaking it carefully, you’re good to go.

If you are shipping fragile items, you should wrap items separately and provide generous cushioning on all sides. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least 5-6cm distance between the content and the walls of the box. For lighter products, use soft cushioning, and for heavier products you should opt for harder cushioning. Make sure that you fill all of the empty space.

If you are shipping heavy items, use only dense cushioning for heavy items. To protect the contents of your box, use customised corrugated board or engineered foam enclosures. These are more effective and reinforce the rigidity of the outer box.

3. Shipping label

It’s always a good idea to print out the shipping label twice and place the duplicate inside the parcel. 
This way, in the event the shipping label gets damaged or lost in transit, all the necessary information can be found inside the parcel and your shipment can still be delivered to your customer.

4. Seal the box

Sealing the box with proper packaging tape is key. It is not recommended to use normal tape like scotch tape as it’s not as strong as parcel tape. Seal the parcel in the form of a double T (along the middle and the top and bottom sides) to ensure it’s taped properly and use self-adhesive tape that is a minimum 48 mm wide.
It’s best to use heavy-duty or preferably reinforced tape to seal your box if you are shipping heavy items over 25kg.

5. Place your label safely and visibly

As your last step, place the label with the complete sender and delivery information on the biggest surface of the box. Do this after you’ve sealed the box so that no tape covers the label and barcode. Also avoid putting the label on seams, closures, or on top of the sealing tape.

Special packaging

When choosing your box, asses your packaging needs and keep the following things in mind

Fragile Items

If you are shipping fragile items, be sure to use a double walled corrugated cardboard box and go for a new box instead of re-using old ones. A new box is at its full strength and has not been compromised by humidity or the wear and tear of previous use. While you are welcome to place ‘fragile’ or ‘this way up’ labels on your package, these can’t replace adequate packaging and a “this way up” orientation cannot be guaranteed at all times during transit.

Heavy Items

For parcels weighing over 25kg, select packaging that can accommodate the weight of the products so that the box does not get damaged during transit. Boxes have to be strong. Make sure that seams are stitched or stapled instead of glued. Check the strength of the box to ensure that the size limit and gross weight limit of the box are not exceeded. These are often indicated on the sides. Use a new box that has not been subject to wear and tear or humidity to ensure it’s at its full strength.

Irregular shaped items

If you are shipping maps, posters, blueprints or other rolled up paper items, use triangular tubes instead of cylinder tubes. Cylinder tubes are more difficult to handle during transportation as they can roll off of automated conveyor belts and can roll around inside trucks increasing the potential for loss and late delivery. Triangular tubes will stay in place just like any other package.

Liquids

Sufficient and careful packaging is key when shipping any sort of liquids, such as beverages. These shipments must meet UPS packaging requirements and should be tested by the manufacturer to meet ISTA3A or UPS Package Design and Test Lab requirements. Several solutions are available that use pre-molded Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam, folded corrugated trays, or molded fiber trays.  These sturdy, corrugated cardboard boxes are separated into compartments that secure the bottles into the center of the box and ensure that the bottles don’t touch the outside walls. The inner components must fit snugly inside the box with all closure flaps sealed securely top and bottom with pressure sensitive tape. If you are not filling up all compartments of the inside component, be sure not to leave it empty, as this would compromise the strength of the component. You can use strong compromised craft paper or alternative packaging material to fill it up.

If you are shipping alcoholic beverages, such as wine, beer or spirits, please visit our website on wine shipments for more detailed information.

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