If you’re selling physical products online then shipping and delivery are very important parts of your business. While e-commerce packaging may seem simple it can be quite complicated and it is important that you fully understand the intricacies to avoid extra charges, product damage, or creating a negative brand image.
Let’s take a look at how to do e-commerce packaging right your products before shipping them out to customers.
Choose the Right Outer Packaging
Most online e-commerce products fall within the category of small packages (150 lbs or less). There are a few common options when it comes to shipping such packages. Corrugated cardboard is a popular option due to its sturdiness, availability, low cost, and the fact that it comes in various sizes.
Choose an appropriately sized box that gives at least two to three inches of space on all sides so that you can insert the inner padding. For smaller packages, padded envelopes and bubble mailers are also quite effective and may be cost-saving as well.
Most shipping services charge based on what is known as dimensional weight which takes into account the height, width, length, and weight of the product being shipped. Therefore, using appropriately sized packaging material is cost-effective.
Remember to ship electronic products in anti-static material. Also, you may choose to use utility packaging (which is typically cheaper especially when purchased in bulk) or branded packaging.
Consider the Right Choice of Inner Packing
After choosing your outer packaging you have to choose an appropriate inner packing material to protect the product. If allowed to move during the shipping process the product will be prone to damage.
Some popular options include bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam inserts, and so on. After placing the packing material within the box with the product, close it and shake it gently to ensure that the product to be shipped is secured firmly. Other options such as old newspapers and confetti can be used for less fragile products.
Insert a Packing Slip
A packing slip is a document that contains a list of all the items inside a package, along with other relevant information. This helps both the sender and receiver have a good idea of exactly what the package contains and is useful in the event of theft or loss of certain items.
Ensure that the information on the packing slip is well-written and accurate. Place the packing slip within the package before shipping it out.
Seal the Package Properly
Seal all seams appropriately after packaging the product and inserting the inner packing. This is to prevent the box from opening and spilling out its contents. Several different types of tape can be used depending on the required strength such as duct tape, clear carton sealing tape, or gummed kraft tape.
Irrespective of the type of tape used ensure that you place clear tape over the shipping label to protect you from damage and ensure that it is visible at all stages of delivery.
Label the Package Correctly
Labeling is very important when it comes to product shipping. The package label should contain the delivery address as well as your return address. The delivery address should contain the recipient’s name, street address, city, state or province, postal code, and country (if it is leaving the country).
This should be written out clearly and placed on a standard 4” by 6” shipping label. Place the label on the largest flat surface of the package away from any seams or edges to avoid it falling off And ensure that it is constantly visible.
Different shipping platforms may require different types of shipping labels, so ensure that your labeling meets the requirements of the shipping service you are utilizing in terms of size, font type, size, information, and placement.
Any additional information concerning the package should also be provided such as if it is fragile or whether it contains hazardous materials.
Customize Your Shipping Package
Your packaging is also a part of your branding. Therefore, you may decide to customize your packages with your brand logo, unique designs, color schemes, inner packing materials or even labeling.
This makes your packaging easy to identify and creates a unique identity for your company which is great for building brand awareness and promoting customer loyalty.
Also, utilizing eco-friendly materials as a part of your branding is a great way to build a positive brand association. However, don’t forget to factor in the costs of these customizations when determining your shipping fee.
Ensure Your Package Is Insured
Shipping insurance puts both the sender and the receiver at ease since at least a part of the cost of the product would be recovered in the event of damage, theft, or loss. This is especially important for high-value, fragile, or hard-to-replace items. Ensure that you discuss with your carrier service to determine the type of insurance they provide.
Some services provide only partial insurance, therefore it may be wise to also insure the package through a third-party insurance service that covers the full cost of the item.
Shipping insurance is optional for certain carrier services, but may be a mandatory criterion for others. Compare the insurance costs between different carriers and insurance providers to find the most cost-effective yet dependable combination.
Build a Communication Channel With Your Customers
This involves explaining the basics of the shipping process as well as communicating any possible delays or issues you believe they should be aware of.
Initiating communications with your customer before and during the shipping process also allows them to effectively track the progress of their package. This may involve providing them with a tracking number that allows them to identify where their package is at different phases.
Consider Eco-friendly Alternatives
Ensuring that your e-commerce product ultimately gets to the buyer should be your top priority. However, this does not mean that you cannot factor in other important considerations such as how to use eco-friendly alternatives and practices to reduce your carbon footprint.
This is especially true for companies that make environmental consciousness an integral part of their brand image. An example of this includes partnering with eco-conscious shipping carriers which promote the use of renewable energy and hybrid vehicles.
Also you can use eco-friendly packaging options such as biodegradable packaging, compostable packaging, recyclable packaging, reusable packaging, and minimalist packaging.
Choose the Right Shipping Carrier
While this article deals mainly with how to properly package your e-commerce products, choosing the right shipping carrier is also important. There are several factors to consider when choosing a shipping carrier such as costs, speed, reliability, eco-friendliness, convenience, insurance coverage, and so on.
Also, choose a carrier that offers multiple shipping options such as express shipping. This helps you give more flexibility to your customers. All these combined will determine your shipping fee and by extension the pricing of your products.
Test Your Packaging
After you have successfully packaged, sealed, and labeled your shipments it is important to test the reliability of your packaging through a test shipment. This involves simply packaging an e-commerce product and shipping them to a certain location.
This allows you to identify certain potential complications which may arise along the process and address them before having to deal with customer shipments.
Consider Your Shipping Strategy
Self-fulfillment might be possible for small-scale e-commerce platforms, however, larger platforms or businesses which are experiencing or expecting rapid growth may require third-party logistics companies to handle their packaging and shipping.
Carefully analyze your business in terms of sales volume, shipping rates, available resources, type of brand, and your products to determine which option is most effective for your business.
Use Shipping Software
Use a shipping software or platform to help you manage and track your orders, print shipping labels, and communicate with your customers. Automation ultimately helps drive down costs and makes the process more efficient.
Some examples include:
Keep Up With Industry Trends
Keep up with industry trends as well as improvements in delivery technology, packaging material, eco-friendly shipping practices, and so on. Not only does this help you provide the best value to your customers it also allows you to identify cost-saving measures to increase your profit margin period
Monitor Shipping Costs Closely
Closely monitor shipping costs to allow you to keep your prices within a profitable yet competitive range. Remember that free shipping is quite common for products that cost more than $20. Therefore, ensure that you factor shipping costs into your original pricing.
There is clearly more to e-commerce packaging than meets the eye. However, by following these tips and tricks you will be able to build a successful e-commerce packaging and shipping system in no time.