How to secure a courier parcel: 3 core principles for optimal parcel packaging

There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. Most losses occurring during shipment can be avoided if we apply three core principles for optimal parcel packaging. Proper parcel packaging can help ensure that the content of your parcel will arrive safely and just as it was shipped.

The package should protect the items inside against compression (our shipment may just be placed at the bottom of the cargo compartment under load from other packages) and normal shipping hazards such as shocks and impacts (due to uneven road surfaces, while sorting, loading and unloading). How to prepare a package for a courier?

First of all: packaging that fits

The basic issue is to select packaging of the right shape and size. Rectangular cardboard box, tube, plastic or metal container, wooden box, pallet, barrel – whatever you choose, it must be of a size which allows the content to fit as snugly as possible.

What are the benefits of  the optimal choice of packaging size? The three most obvious are:

  • securing the contents from moving around during shipment – contents stacked in a stable manner reduce the risk of damage due to them moving inside the packaging and  facilitate manual and mechanical handling (as the risk of dropping or falling as a result of the shift of the centre of gravity is lower);
  • reducing the size of the package resulting in a lower shipment price;
  • fewer fillers – resulting in materials and working time savings.

If possible, it is also worth ensuring that our package is of the regular, rectangular shape and its dimensions fulfil the courier restrictions for  a standard, mechanically sortable package. It is much cheaper to ship a standard package than a non-standard one. You can read more about standardisation of packages in the article How much does a ton of styrofoam weigh? We cut the courier services costs.

Secondly: fill the holes

The items should not move in the package – they should stay in a fixed position no matter what the orientation of the package is.

Polystyrene boxes are considered to be the best option to protect a broad range of goods during shipment. Especially when their interiors are moulded to match the shape of the given item so that the formed polystyrene adheres to the outer contour of the item as close as possible so there is no need for additional fillers.

Polystyrene boxes provide not only perfect protection against mechanical damage, but also offer very useful thermal insulation properties. When combined with dry ice (a solid form of carbon dioxide) they are suitable for transporting perishables requiring low temperatures, e.g. food or medicines.

Some goods, especially electronic and household appliances leave factories with original polystyrene packaging. However, packaging items into a cardboard box and filling the void spaces with fillers is the most popular option. We can choose different fillers –  crumpled paper, bubble wrap, various types of pellets (e.g. styrofoam chips), styrofoam inserts and air cushions, and even waste newspapers (for more on fillers read the text – Don’t tuck newspapers into the box! We choose parcel fillers for pros).

Whichever filler you choose, your aim is to secure and cushion the item to protect it against mechanical damage.

Thirdly: solid protection

The most popular form of external protection for the package is a cardboard box, which can be additionally reinforced with stretch foil. You can also use cardboard or plastic corners for additional strengthening. Always the package should be sealed with strong packing tape.

When particularly valuable goods, requiring maximum protection against damage and deformation of the packaging, are to be shipped, it is worth considering an additional container (plastic or metal) or a box made of wood or wood-based materials. These boxes are relatively easy and cheap to make, however, they offer very effective protection against most common shipment hazards.

Que sera sera … (fourth)

It is the sender who is responsible for the way the package is packaged and labeled. Therefore, it is worth ensuring  the proper quality of packaging and  proper labelling – “top/bottom” or “glass please handle with care”. Remember, however, that this is information for couriers, not a magic spell, which will, 100%, protect your package against improper handling.

There is no such thing as a secure package that could not be destroyed in transport. That’s why insurance exists. If we want to have a guarantee that we will not lose, we should invest in an insurance policy so that – in the case of the package being destroyed or lost – we can be sure that we will get back the value of the goods in the package.