The Top Ten Shipping Pitfalls

Shipping Boxes

Packing something up to send to someone else should be pretty straightforward. After all, it’s not rocket science, is it?

Except, of course, things can and do go wrong, and far too frequently. And when it does go wrong, it can be expensive, time consuming, irritating, inconvenient, occasionally even embarrassing to put right. Sometimes all of these things.

As a company vastly experienced – and, if we may be so bold as to say, accomplished – in mailing out the sort of goods that have been specially designed to mail things out in, you could say that we have a fair amount of accumulated wisdom in this matter.

So we thought it a good idea to put our heads together and come up with what we think are the ten most common problems met by those involved in the packaging, dispatch and shipment of all manner of goods and products. We hope you find the result useful!

1 Not packing the boxes properly
This is the most obvious item on the list, yet it’s amazing how many badly packed parcels are dispatched every day. Even the most careful courier will have problems ensuring the safe transit of your product if it’s rattling around in a flimsy carton. At its most simple, use a sensibly sized box (see more about this below), strong enough for the weight of your product, and fill the remaining space with something that will both protect what’s inside and support the sides of the parcel against any knocks and bumps it receives on its way.

2 Using a bigger box than necessary
Using too big a box has a number of possible consequences. It will probably cost you more to post (see below), and it will certainly cost you more to fill any unused space – unless, of course, you want an even bigger area for your product to rattle around in? With more in-stock sizes of standard cardboard boxes and postal boxes than any other UK packaging supplier, not to mention our fast and cost effective custom and bespoke boxes service, we at Davpack can reasonably claim to be doing more than most to tackle this particular problem!

3 Will your box pass the edge crush test?
Naturally your box needs to be strong enough for your product. But don’t forget that it may also end up on a pallet in a stack of other boxes – possibly even at the bottom – and all that weight bearing down on it can have a damaging effect. That means you want to be as certain as you can be that your carton will stand up to such treatment. Davpack boxes have been designed and made with these kind of issues in mind.

4 Not being aware of size and weight restrictions
When you’re busy and need to get things on their way quickly, it can be so easy just to pack and dispatch. But taking a few extra seconds to check the size and weight of the finished carton can make a huge difference. In a world where the Royal Mail can charge a couple of extra quid to carry a medium parcel than a small one – where the one weighs no more than a couple of ounces more than the other – you really need to keep a close eye on these things. When the Royal Mail introduced their new small and medium parcel price bands in April 2013, Davpack was the first UK packaging supplier to respond with specially designed postal boxes to match, so you can be sure that we’ll always be on the ball and making sure you can get the best value and most appropriate packaging on the market.

5 Labelling
Quite apart from the fact that you want to make it very obvious where your parcel should end up, you also need to make sure your courier knows if what is inside is fragile, easily damaged, or needs to be kept the right way up. On their own, these kind of shipping labels can reduce damages, because they do draw the attention of anyone handling the parcel to the possible consequences. But the more hands it passes through – and there can be several as it goes from your premises to your courier’s local hub, from there to the courier’s hub local to your customer and eventually onto its final destination – the more chance there is that someone in that chain won’t treat your parcel in as careful a manner as they should. And if that does happen, and the consequences aren’t obvious until the parcel is opened up, identifying where that has taken place is not always easy. Our new transit monitors, including Shockwatch and Tip N Tell labels, can be checked at every stage, and will give a clear visual symbol if handled in an incorrect manner. That should ensure a bit more care is taken by everyone!

6 Overfilling a box
Just as not putting enough packing into the box is a bad idea, so is putting in too much, because then you run the risk of your carton bursting outwards under the strain.

7 Using the wrong filler
What you use to wrap your product and what you use to fill the spare space around it can make a huge difference. Traditional solutions, like bubble wrap and polystyrene packing peanuts are still a good option, but there are lots of alternatives you can consider: like foam rolls, which are softer than bubble, or air cushion packaging, which takes a lot less space to store and, as we worked out in an earlier blog, can cost a lot less to use. You can also use biodegradable options, or anti static solutions. We’ve also just introduced a new loose fill to the range, called Vermiculite, which is highly absorbent, making it ideal for hazardous liquids. Then there are things like paper void fill and Sealed Air’s Instapak. If all that’s starting to get a bit confusing, don’t forget you can always call us to get some friendly advice as to which is the best one for your particular product.

8 Just going for the cheapest delivery service
No matter how many labels you use, and no matter how clever they may be in identifying that someone has mishandled your fragile parcel, let’s face it: some couriers are just better than others. You may pay more for a better service, but it can definitely save in the long run. Do your research and see who rates best on review sites like Trustpilot. Get the advice of others – after all, it’s also the case that different couriers rate better in different parts of the country. There are also those who deliver faster than others, but hopefully not at the price of the proper care and consideration being given to you and your customer. In the end, however, things do go wrong every now and then. Parcels do get damaged occasionally and sometimes, even in a world of bar codes and computer scanning, they can get lost. It’ll always feel like it was the one parcel you really didn’t want to get damaged or lost, though, won’t it? You’ll never eliminate these kinds of things entirely, but you should always be working towards keeping them to an absolute minimum.

9 Is everything covered properly?
Some parts of certain products are more vulnerable to potential damage than others, usually edges and corners. That means you need to give a little extra thought to how you’re going to look after them. In some cases, such as books, the whole piece of packaging has been designed with this in mind – book boxes, for example, have extended ends so that their corners have a valuable few centimetres more of protection around them. We’ve got a whole section on our website dedicated to edge and corner protection, with a wide selection of plastic, cardboard and foam solutions for everything from doors and furniture to computer monitors and framed pictures.

10 Export
If you’ve got this far, you may no longer have the courage even to send your mother a birthday card through the post, let alone entrust a valuable piece of machinery, fragile piece of pottery or delicate bit of electronics to anyone else. If you need to send any of these things abroad, however, you’re entering another realm of potential catastrophe. Quite apart from the customs angle, you need to be sure that your packaging is not only strong enough to deal with the extra rough treatment it will inevitably be subjected to, but also that it meets important regulations about what materials can and can’t be used. Again, you don’t need to worry as we’ve made sure we have an answer, with extra heavy duty double and triple wall boxes and export friendly plywood cases always available from stock.

I hope we haven’t scared you with all this talk of what can go wrong – really, all you need is a bit of common sense and a good packaging supplier. We hope this blog will help you along with the common sense bit, and as for the good packaging supplier – well, you know where to go, don’t you?

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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