Picking the Right Shipping Container

In: Packaging

28 Mar 2009

After you have all your shipping supplies assembled, all you need to do is put your item in a box and seal it up. Easy, right? Not really and the consequences of choosing the wrong container can be both disastrous and unnecessarily expensive.

First, you have to decide whether to use a box or an envelope. If you have a very large item to ship, the choice is easy. But what if you have something smaller and flatter, such as a laser disc or a coin? Your choice should be determined by the fragility of your item. If the item can bend or break, choose a box; if not, an envelope is probably a safe choice.

Whichever you choose, pick a container that’s large enough to hold your item without the need to force it in or bend it in an inappropriate fashion. Also, make sure that the box has enough extra room to insert cushioning material.

On the other hand, the container shouldn’t be so big as to leave room for the item to bounce around. Also, you pay for size and for weight; you don’t want to pay to ship anything bigger or heavier than it needs to be.

If you’re shipping in an envelope, consider using a bubble-pack envelope or reinforcing the envelope with pieces of cardboard. This is especially vital if your item shouldn’t be bent or folded.

If you’re shipping in a box, make sure that it’s made of heavy, corrugated cardboard and has its flaps intact. Thinner boxes such as shoe boxes or gift boxes simply aren’t strong enough for shipping. When packing a box, never exceed the maximum gross weight for the box, which is usually printed on the bottom flap.

Although a bunch of different-sized boxes are available, sometimes you need something somewhere in between this size and that size box. When you face this situation, you have two choices.

First, you can take a larger box and cut it down. That means cutting through each corner of the box to make it shorter, and then cutting off the ends of the flaps accordingly. Sometimes it’s difficult to fold unscored flaps, so you may want to make your own scores by slicing a knife (shallowly) where you want to bend the box closed.

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