How to Decide What Packing Materials to Use for Your Products

The global logistics market is growing exponentially with the rise of online shopping and easier worldwide shipping. Over 65 million parcels and packages were delivered worldwide in 2016 – and that’s continued to rise every year since.

With so many packages in the huge global shipping systems, it’s important to make sure your products arrive in the condition you sent them out in. Packing and labeling your products the right way will make sure you’re not losing out.

Using the right packing materials for your products will reduce the number of breakages and replacements, save you money, and result in happier customers.

Knowing which materials are available, and the things to consider when designing your packaging will help you to design a system that suits your budget and your products.

This guide will help you discover the different materials you can choose from – and how to decide which ones suit your products the best.

A Quick Guide to Packing Materials

The range of materials to pack your products safely is hugely varied but there are a few key groups to recognize. Each serves a different type of purpose and is suited to different product types and shipping requirements.

Bubble Wrap Sheets

Bubble wrap sheets help protect fragile items in transit. The small air pockets give protection against bumps and knocks. The sheets take up relatively little room, especially when compared to air pocket inserts, which makes them ideal for tightly-packed boxes that require minimal protection.

The size of the bubbles on the sheet, both width, and depth, will affect how much protection it offers. Larger bubbles indicate a more rigid packing sheet, providing greater protection than smaller bubbles. However, the larger the bubble, the more room it takes up inside the box.

Air Pocket Inserts

Air pockets come in strips and act like one big bubble instead of lots of smaller ones. They’re ideal for keeping a product in place during transit if packed fairly tightly. 

Companies use air pockets when they implement a standard box size system. This means they only need to use a few box sizes for any order, instead of stocking lots of different sizes. If a box is too large for the order, air pockets can fill the gap without adding packing weight to the individual box.

Polystyrene Peanuts or Molded Pieces

A packing classic, polystyrene peanuts add plenty of cushioning to any product. They’re also a great insulator for items that need to remain cool, like food items or certain medications.

Molded polystyrene packaging is more expensive to implement but adds serious packing protection to your items. The unique mold allows you to work out the most space-efficient packing configuration for your product without adding too much extra weight. 

Cardboard Strips

Cardboard strips are similar to polystyrene but more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Strips can be shredded recycled cardboard that acts in a similar fashion to polystyrene peanuts or fixed in a design that holds a product in place.

Cardboard is ideal for non-perishable items as it is light in weight and eco-friendly. 

External Packaging Considerations

As well as knowing how to protect your products safely while inside the box, it’s important to consider what’s on the outside, too.

For example, if you’re transporting fragile goods, it’s important to have this clearly labeled on the external box. You’ll also need to consider the weather conditions likely to be encountered: plastic shrinkwrap will help minimize water damage from rain or snow.

You’ll need space for labels to determine address, product information, and warehouse distribution labels, too. That means there needs to be enough space for barcodes, QR codes, and other tracking information for warehouse stock management systems. Without this data clearly printed on the exterior box, you risk losing your package in the warehouse and distribution process.

5 Tips to Pack Your Products Safely

When you know which materials you’re going to use, it’s time to look at the rest of your packing plan. Working from the inside out of your product packaging, take these things into consideration to help reduce costs, improve product safety, and satisfy customers.

1. Size Matters

Keep box size to the very minimum possible for the item you want to ship. This saves you on shipping costs and also means you can ship more units per palette than using larger boxes.

Minimum sizes, however, must take into account the amount of internal packaging required to send a product safely. For example, sending a ceramic mug in a box that has no room for any packing material around it will risk damage to the item.

2. Cheap Isn’t Always Cost-Effective

Buying the cheapest materials won’t save you money in the long-run. For example, cheap bubble wrap is thin so more of it is required to provide the same protection as a thicker, more expensive version.

Choosing the more expensive packaging option will save you money as it will reduce the number of breakages and returns you receive overall.

3. Reduce Plastic Waste

The plastic reduction movement continues to grow and your customers will pay attention to how much you’re using in your packaging.

Try to reduce your plastic usage wherever possible. Instead of branded plastic sleeves on your boxes, for example, use paper ones or print directly onto your boxes.

4. Consider Packaging Weight

The amount of packing material you use inside a box will add to the overall shipping weight. Reducing how much bubble wrap or cardboard you use will slash your shipping costs.

You may want to consider using more expensive and higher-quality external shipping boxes, too. These offer greater protection and will reduce the amount of internal packaging required for each individual item.

5. Be Economic with Palette Stacking

Choose shipping boxes in standard sizes to maximize the efficiency of your palettes. Round boxes, for example, leave excess space on a palette that wastes money. Square or rectangle boxes stack well and leave no excess space.

Doing this will also add to the structural integrity of a stack, reducing the risk of a collapsed palette with lots of damaged products.

Ship With an Expert Logistics Company

Packing materials help protect your individual items from being damaged in transit – but there are more potential snags in getting your cargo from A to B in pristine condition.

The best way to reduce delays, minimize the risk of lost parcels, and ensure timely delivery is to always use an expert freight logistics company. We offer rush courier deliveries, same-day air freight across the US and Canada, as well as refrigerated shipping and warehouse services.

These integrated services ensure your cargo is looked after from the moment it comes into our care until it’s in the hands of your customer. Contact us today to find out more about expert shipping services that’ll protect your packages every step of the way.