Shipping fragile items can feel risky. Rough transit conditions frequently damage fragile items like glassware, ceramics, technological devices, and musical instruments. Boxes can get tossed, dropped, bumped, tipped, and flipped. You can’t control the conditions your package encounters or how carriers handle it on its journey to your customer.

However, you can control the packing materials you use for your items. Using the materials best suited to the items’ size can help them arrive at their destination in one piece. Follow these tips to safely package your items from the inside out!

Inside the Box

Using the right packing materials inside the box is crucial for ensuring fragile items arrive at your customer in one piece. Many varieties of packing materials ensure the safety of your fragile items in transit.

Factors affecting which of these materials you use inside the box to protect your fragile items include the item’s size, the amount of empty space in the box, and your shipping budget. Properly packing your items makes shipping them domestically and overseas less stressful. 

Packing materials serve two purposes: The cushion items and fill empty spaces in the box. Both functions keep your items safe and unbroken. 

Let’s talk about the best packing materials to use to protect your fragile items.

Cushioning Your Items

Wrapping your items in protective layers of material is the first step to keeping your fragile items safe. Forming this protective layer ensures that your item is not vulnerable to bumps, scratches, or scrapes from other items that may also be in the box. 

Some materials to cushion your items include: 

Bubble Wrap

The hundreds of bubbles in bubble wrap are fun to pop, but they also provide some of the best protection for fragile items in transit. Bubble wrap’s protection varies based on the size of the air-filled holes. The larger the bubbles, the more protection it offers. The increased amount of air provides more cushion, and, therefore, more protection. 

To use, wrap your item in a layer or two of bubble wrap, and secure it with packing tape. If your item needs more protection, add more layers of bubble wrap. Find the right balance of too little and too much. 

Paper

Sheets of paper can be wrapped around the fragile item and secured in place using tape to prevent scratches. Do this before wrapping the item in bubble wrap for the most protection. 

Filling the Empty Spaces

After properly cushioning your item, fill the empty spaces between it and the box. Filling empty spaces with packing material prevents the item from shifting during transport. This is especially important for items with an irregular shape. 

Place the properly cushioned item in the center of the box with filler on the bottom, top, and sides. Ideally, the box will have room for at least two inches of filler for cushioning on all sides of the item. 

Some materials you can fill the empty spaces in your box with include:

Packing Peanuts

Polystyrene peanuts, commonly known as packing peanuts, are a common filler for boxes. 

Affordable and lightweight, they cushion fragile items. Consider using biodegradable packing peanuts for an eco-friendly option

Cardboard Partitions

If you are shipping multiple items in the same box, separate them with cardboard dividers. This prevents them from bumping into one another as the box moves around in transit. The dividers come in many different sizes and shapes, so pick the one that best fits your needs. 

Shredded Paper

Shredded paper is a simple but effective way to fill empty spaces in the box. You can buy pre-shredded paper or shred it yourself. Shredding paper that you already have on hand saves money and reduces waste.

Air Pillows

Air pillows work well to fill larger spaces in boxes, especially when an item is too small for its box. They come in strips that can be used in a single layer or stacked for extra protection. Also, air pillows are virtually weightless, so they don’t increase shipping costs

Crumpled Paper

Recycle old newspapers, wrapping paper, or magazines lying around the house into packing material. Simply crumple up multiple sheets of paper into a ball-like shape. These balls can be used to fill empty spaces or holes in the item you are shipping or line the box. 

Picking the Right Box

Having the correct packing materials for your fragile item is important, but your item will not be properly protected without the correct box. Consider the size, shape, and weight of the item you are shipping when selecting a box. 

Select a box that is only slightly bigger than the item or items you’re shipping. If the box has too much space in it, the items will shift around during transport, potentially resulting in breakage. The box should be large enough to have two inches of filling around all sides of the item.

The material of the box is important, too. While it may seem like any old box from the basement will do, it is important that the box is made out of corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard boxes are made of layered paper, making them rigid enough to endure heavy pressure from other boxes that will be stacked on top.  

While it may be cheaper to ship items in a poly mailer, boxes are a better choice for fragile items. A mailer can easily be crushed in transit, but a box offers more durability and structure. Even poly mailers with bubble wrap filling still leave fragile items vulnerable to damage. 

Outside the Box

Packing items correctly inside the box is important, but what’s outside of the box matters, too. What is on the outside is what carriers and handlers see, so make sure that labels are properly applied. Other ways to keep your fragile items safe include:

Packing Tape

It’s important to make sure to use the right kind and amount of tape to seal your box. Plastic packing tape and paper packing tape are the most common kinds of tape used for e-commerce businesses. Plastic tape is more readily available, while the paper tape is environmentally friendly. 

A little goes a long way when it comes to packing tape. Using an excessive amount of tape can make for a difficult and unpleasant unboxing experience for your customer. Make sure to use a sufficient amount of tape on the bottom of the box when shipping heavier items so that the box does not break. 

Label the Box “Fragile”

Carriers and handlers can only see what’s on the outside of the box, not the inside. Make sure that they know it has fragile items inside. Label the box “Fragile” on whichever side the label is on, so handlers can treat it accordingly. 

Pack Safe

Now you’re ready to ship your fragile items to their destination. Remember, you can’t prevent 100% of damage to fragile items. However, using the proper packing materials for your fragile items help to prevent the shifting of items during transport. 

No more worries about how your package will be handled on its journey. You can rest easy knowing you’ve done your part to ensure your customer receives their items in one piece! 

 

Sources:

  1. 9 Eco-Friendly Packaging Alternatives for Your Business's Shipping Needs | Green Business Bureau 
  2. 7 Ideas for 'Greening' Your Shipping Strategy | Entrepreneur 
  3. 8 Factors that Affect Shipping Costs Calculation | ZenHub

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