Problems with packing parcels in the e-commerce industry. How to tackle them?

The process of packing goods for shipping is a very important element of the logistics chain. It is where mistakes and delays, which have a negative impact on the onward journey of your shipment, start. Defective packaging may result, in the most extreme cases, in failure to deliver the ordered goods. We point out below the most common packaging problems in the e-commerce industry and suggest how to remedy them.

There are two causes of problems with preparing packages for shipment. The first is the wrong choice of packaging materials. The second, equally important, is wrong planning of packing.

How to choose the right packaging materials for parcels?

The materials used for packaging should be suitable for the nature of the goods. You should consider such parameters as weight, resistance to mechanical damage (crushing, hitting, bending) and resistance to environmental factors (high and low temperatures, dust, moisture and water from precipitation). All the guidelines suggest choosing carefully between options in three main components of packaging:

  • container (collective packaging) – it should be made of a material whose specifics are adapted to the weight of the goods and the level of protection that you want to provide it can be a cardboard box, a wooden box, a plastic or metal container, a barrel, etc. – very often you have to consider the usage of special packaging that allows the maintenance and monitoring of parameters such as temperature or humidity,
  • fillers – it can be crumpled paper, plastic fillers, air cushions, bubble wrap, polystyrene shapes and many others – the type of filler should be chosen depending on the nature of the products to be packaged; using light air cushions while sending for example products with sharp edges and significant weight may not be the optimal solution,
  • outer cover – paper or film, which is to protect the outside of the package from dirt and moisture; this is an element of the packaging that is not always necessary, because most products’ original packaging placed in a cardboard box with a filler will do.

Selecting the type and method of packaging should be done sensibly. Carelessness is unacceptable, but you shouldn’t exaggerate with the security measures either. A classic example is the way adhesive tape is used for closing cardboard boxes. You cannot apply too little as it may open during transport. However, you shouldn’t overuse the tape as it can be annoying for the customer who has difficulties while opening a package. Especially, when over-zealous packaging does not translate into better protection of the packaged goods.

What are the signs of faulty packing planning?

It is not the end recipient that suffers from mistakes in packing planning, but the seller who may incur unnecessary costs. Here are three of the most important signs of faulty packing planning:

  • too large a cardboard box (collective packaging, container) – the goods move freely inside the cardboard box, or they are buried in too much unnecessary fillers, which means the shipment could make an ecologist weep,
  • too small a cardboard box (collective packaging, container) – the goods are literally crammed into the cardboard box, which can easily break, and for sure are not protected by a sufficient amount of fillers which may increase the risk of damage during transport,
  • insufficient use of space – incorrect arrangement of products in the collective packaging means that you either pay for air being shipped or risk damage in transport due to the chaotic arrangement of cardboard boxes on a pallet – this happens when you work under time pressure and follow intuition instead of using precise planning.

Of course, mistakes in packing planning are subject to the effect of scaling – poorly arranged and packed individual collective packaging may lead to an inefficient use of cargo and storage spaces. The effects are easy to predict – an increase in the costs of packaging materials and of handling complaints (as a result of damages due to improper packaging), and the fees for the transport and storage of extremely expensive air.

Problems with using incorrect size boxes arise not only in the packing process itself, but also at the stage of ordering cardboard boxes or containers. There is a simple and effective solution to both of these problems – automation of packing planning processes, i.e. the use of packing algorithms. Just enter the dimensions and weight of the goods in the appropriate calculator to find out which collective packages should be used and how to optimally arrange the goods in them. The solution is simple and effective – it can bring benefits to both a small store and an e-commerce giant.