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The art of packaging. A guide to packing & weighing.

September 13, 2023

The logistics industry is complex and has multiple processes and facets, like pickups, tracking, warehousing, returns, etc. One key aspect of the industry that is frequently overlooked or underrated is the packaging.

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the subject of packaging and sharing tips on how you can optimise your packing and weighing process to ensure seamless deliveries for your business.

Why is packaging so important?

Packaging has evolved from boxes, nylons, or cartons into an organised system that prepares shipping items for safe, fast, and cost-efficient delivery. Nowadays, how you package your items can significantly affect the price you pay for their delivery and how quickly it reaches the drop-off location.

Packaging is also one of the critical processes in logistics that the end user interacts with intimately. When done correctly, it leaves the customer feeling well satisfied and eager to recommend or return to your business again. An example of this can be seen with brands like Apple, Nike, or Shein, who go the extra mile with how they package their products to increase customer satisfaction.

You may need to consider many factors when choosing how to package a particular shipment. This can depend on the kind of item being shipped or your goal as a business. Here are a few examples of popular types of packages to consider:

1. Boxes - These packages are quite common in the logistics industry and come in many sizes. The main advantage of using these boxes is that they are solid, durable, and can be recycled. For shipping heavy items, they are usually the best choice to go with. Below are images of the various kind of corrugated boxes that you can use to ship.

Courtesy of Uline

2. Padded Mailers - These packages are usually great for small, flat, or delicate items. So padded mailers will be your preferred option if you’re shipping items like accessories, books, or portable electronics. Below is an example a padded mailer looks like.

Courtesy of Pinterest

3. Bags, Envelopes & Flyers - If you’re shipping light and non-fragile items, e.g., clothing, these kinds of packages are suitable. They are affordable, lightweight, and very versatile. They can also be sealed without using tape, making them very convenient.

Courtesy of Pinterest

4. Customised Packages - You can also opt to design and manufacture personalised packages if you want to control their unboxing experience. This option might be the most cost-intensive, but it can be a great way to market or promote your business to customers.

Courtesy of Pinterest

Actual weight vs volumetric weight.

The actual weight of a package is the weight that’s displayed when it’s placed on a measuring scale. This is different from the volumetric weight, which is the overall space (volume) that the package occupies. The volumetric weight is also referred to as dimensional weight.

Depending on which weight is heavier, a courier company will charge based on the volumetric weight of a package or its actual/accurate weight. This is to ensure the spaces on their transport vehicles, e.g., vans, trucks, planes, etc., are used effectively. Essentially, avoiding situations where a vehicle’s room might be filled up due to oversized packages, but overall it’s still underweight due to delicate items.

This means that if you place a very light item in a big package, you might find that the delivery cost may still be high because the container has a heavier volumetric weight. The best way to avoid this is to use the smallest package possible for every shipped item.

How to calculate volumetric weights?

Calculating the volumetric weight of a package is simple as it is based on the package’s length, width, and height (cm). You must measure and multiply the package’s length, breadth, and height so L x B x H. This will give you the cubic size of your package, i.e., its volume.

Here’s an example, let’s say you have a box measuring 30 cm (length) x 15 cm (breadth) x 15 cm (height), then the volume or space that it will occupy is 6,750 cubic centimeters.

To get the volumetric weight, you divide this figure by a specific constant depending on the courier; it might be 5000 or 4000. So L x B x H / 5000 and the volumetric weight of the box is about 1.35kg or  L x B x H / 4000, and the volumetric weight of the package is 1.6875kg. You will also want to round up the weights so 1.4kg or 1.7kg.

The art of packaging

In summary, packaging an item for shipment goes beyond just placing it in a box or nylon. As we’ve explained, the choice and method of packaging can affect your customer’s experience, making it even more memorable.

We’ve also described actual/true weights and volumetric/dimensional weights and how packaging can influence them by increasing your shipping costs. Hence, it’s in your overall best interest to carefully consider how to package an item shipped to ensure maximum cost efficiency and smooth delivery.