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How to prepare package for shipping

After making a delivery offer and striking a deal with the shopper, shipping is only half the forwarder's remaining battle in completing the order. The other half, packaging, is often a tough challenge for every package forwarder. To help you become a master of packing, we compiled a list of solid instructions and recommendations from the international shipping industry leaders.

Choose the right box for your shipment

Here at Parcl you know the exact item you’ll have to ship from the very beginning. It means that you know its weight, dimensions and the materials it’s made of. Based on this information you need to select the proper box.

  • Choose a box that's slightly larger than the item you're sending so you can cushion the item with packing material on all sides. If the box allows for 2 inches (5 cm) of packing materials on all sides of the item - go for it.
  • Whenever possible, use a new box. The more times a box is used, the more it loses its original protective qualities, so a previously used box may not adequately protect your shipment.
  • Use clean (unmarked) cardboard boxes whose listed burst strength (found on the bottom of any good box) is greater than the weight of the item it will hold. Usually box wall thickness is the criterion that should be considered here. There are several types of box walls available. Here are the most popular ones.
Wall Type Description Suitable for
Coroplast Corrugated plastic material; performs well under adverse weather; typically used for shipping automotive and electric parts Automotive and electric parts, environmentally sensitive items, electronics, small appliances and other products
Chipboard Paper based material; a recycled, basic-quality product; easily cut and formed; lightweight, yet strong material Apparel, cosmetics, books, CDs, soft toys, jewelry and other accessories
e-Flute A type of corrugated fibreboard; paper based; has a flute thickness of 1.6 millimeter, with 295 plus or minus 13 flutes per linear meter Consumer goods (glass, cosmetics, ceramics); CDs
b-Flute Thicker than e-flute; paper based material with a thickness of 3.2 millimeters, and 154 plus or minus 10 flutes per linear meter Glass, consumer electronics, collectibles, apparel, shoes
c-Flute Standard corrugated box thickness; has 128 plus or minus 10 flutes per linear meter, with a flute thickness of 4 flutes per millimeter Glass, consumer electronics, collectibles, apparel, shoes

There are single-wall, double-wall and triple-wall boxes. Double and triple wall boxes follow the same construction as a single walled box, but instead of one layer of cardboard and corrugated material, they have two or three respectively. This gives them added strength when holding items for shipping.

Protect the package contents

Good packaging isn't a need reserved only for fragile items—nearly any box sent using a major shipper is likely to be dropped, kicked, bounced, run through harsh machinery, and otherwise abused on its way. These are quite a sound reason to thoroughly prepare the package for its international journey.

First of all, be sure to choose proper cushioning material. The most popular materials used to protect the package contents are:

Material Description Example
Packing Peanuts

Small bits of polystyrene foam specially made as a cushioning material; shaped to interlock when compressed

Bubble Wrap

Pliable, transparent material comprised of air-filled sections evenly spaced across the sheet

Crumpled kraft paper

Used primarily as a void-fill material for light-to-medium weight, non-fragile items and items that are suitable for such packing materials. Must be tightly crumpled.

Place at least two inches (5.08 cm) of paper between contents and outer box

Inflatable packaging (air bags)

Used primarily as void-fill material for lightweight items.

Not recommended for items with sharp corners or edges. Extreme hot or cold temperatures may affect the ability of air bags to provide adequate product protection.

Packing foam

A foam, sprayed into the box or mixed in packets, that expands and forms a protective mold around contents. Must be properly used.

Important to select the most appropriate foam to meet the requirements of the product.

Once you have decided on the packing material, be sure to use is properly. Wrap each item separately. Fragile articles need separation from each other, and from the corners, sides, top, and bottom of the box.

Each item should be surrounded by at least two inches (5.08 cm) of cushioning and be placed at least two inches (5.08 cm) away from the walls of the box. This prevents product-against-product damage and protects contents from shock and vibration, which can pass from the outside of the box to the contents.

Improper cushioning material includes clothing, blankets, towels, newspaper/newsprint, and pillows. Instead, please use the materials listed above to cushion and protect your shipment.

Close the box securely

Proper closure of your container is just as important as proper cushioning for the safety and security of your shipment.

To close a box securely, do not use masking tape, cellophane tape, duct tape, string, or paper over-wrap. Instead, use a strong tape - two inches (5.08 cm) or more in width - such as these types:

Pressure-sensitive plastic Nylon reinforced filament tape
  • Generally the easiest, most convenient tape to use
  • Versatile because it adheres without water and sticks to a variety of surfaces and shapes
  • Apply three strips to both the top and bottom flaps of the box.
  • Use 60 lb (27 kg) grade tape at least three inches (7.62 cm) wide
  • Apply three strips to both the top and bottom flaps of the box.

Remember that the package might be opened mid-shipment. Shippers or Customs clerks may open your box at any time to see how you've packed it or to inspect its contents, so make sure it can be opened and then re-sealed out of your sight without compromising the packing job you've done.Stick the selected packing tape to the box by following the directions in this picture:

Machines will handle the package, so don’t leave any "tape tails" or other hanging or loose parts that can become snagged in conveyors, pulleys, or doors, any of which can tear your package apart.

Use proper labeling

For fast and efficient delivery, keep these points in mind when labeling your package:

  • Always include the recipient’s postal code, complete address, contact name, and telephone number.
  • Place the shipping label on the top side of the package. To avoid confusion, place only one address label on the package. If you are using a packing slip, place it on the same surface of the package as the address label.
  • Do not place the label over a seam or closure or on top of sealing tape.
  • Remove or cross out old labels or markings on a used box.
  • Always include your complete return address, including full street address and postal code, as well as your contact name and telephone number.
  • Place a duplicate label or other form of identification inside your package.

Remember that you may print out the completed Customs declaration form (CN22 or CN23) using the Parcl interface for labeling your package.

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