There are many ongoing discussions with respect to the overall presentation and the marketing quotient of ecommerce shipments. But very few have been able to throw light on the finer nuances of packing and protecting an ecommerce shipment. After all, protection of the contents is the primary agenda of any packaging process. The beautification of the package is just an add-on component and not a primary requirement. While it does hold value in terms of marketing effectiveness and brand value creation, aesthetic appeal would not be much of a benefit if the content reaches the customer with damages.
What Should You Protect Against?
Completely eliminating damages is an impossible feat and if done, it would require excessive investments to be made to secure the content(s). The ecommerce shipper needs to arrive at an appropriate balance between the acceptable damages that may be incurred during the journey and the costs levied on additional packaging. However, this ratio depends on the companies and the products that are shipped. The ratio depends on the value of the product being shipped, the value of the repeat business of the ecommerce business and the feasibility of sending a replacement if excessive damage is incurred. Most of the times, excessive packaging may be justified if the content is of great value to the customer and needs to be delivered on time without any scope for error. But if you plan on wrapping a product such as a USB cable or a MIDI cable with multiple layers of packaging, then it is investment sent down the drain.
Apart from the actual contents of the package, due consideration should also be given to the nature of handling of the packages during transit. Exposure to rain, dirt, mild rough handling are common for such packages. Light ones will most probably get thrown around and almost all of them could fall down conveyors. So it is best to ensure that the package is able to withstand a 3 foot drop on to a concrete surface. In case the package is aligned for shipped outside the national borders, then it would be good to expect more than a few bumps on the package. On the basis of this understanding, it would be a good approach to secure the contents with appropriate packaging that is designed to enhance the protection value.
The Correct Way for Packing Fragile Contents
Before delving into the correct process for packing fragile products, it would be good to identify the reasons behind the damages incurred on such products. Subsequently, the relevant methods need to be identified with which the damages might be minimized. The two most important factors that are needed for an effective packaging design include damping and structural rigidity. Internal fixation of products is a mandatory requirement because the products may themselves collide and damage themselves, irrespective of the protective measures deployed on the external surface.
A good example of this is glass jars. While they may not require internal cushioning but for this arrangement to work, the internal structure should be rigid enough to keep the jars in place. If the placement is left loose, then the jars may collide with each other and break. This aspect should be checked thoroughly during packaging and if required, appropriate cushioning should be provide but only in needed. There is no point in adding to the packaging costs unless it is justified.
Selecting the Right Packaging Material for Shipment
The selection of the correct packaging materials is equally important as determining the structural specifications of the package. In order to determine the correct combination of materials, the following list may be used:
o Jiffy Bag
o Poly Bag
o Single Wall Corrugated Box
o Double Wall Corrugated Box
o Book Wrap
o Card Envelope
Impact Resistant Materials
o Craft Paper / Brown Paper
o Bubble Wrap
o Corrugated Rolls
o Specialized Protective Materials
Cushioning / Void Filling Materials
o Air Cushions
o Craft Paper / Brown Paper
o Loose Fill
A Word of Advice
Packaging design is a crucial step in the shipment process where every aspect needs to be evaluated in detail. In case this cannot be done by the business, the using a packaging designer or packaging design consultant would be the most viable solution. After all, the need for maximizing cost value benefit holds utmost importance. Once you have the design, then sourcing the materials would be the only requirement as the assembly would depend on the type and quantity of the order placed. Additionally, you may also help in environmental safety by using materials that have been recycled and / or are biodegradable. These offer great cost benefits apart from ecological contribution.