Cross-border shipping remains the biggest priority – and a greatest uncertainty – for SMEs looking to sell internationally. Customs delays and in-transit damages can often be the result of one oversight – packaging. Larger businesses and enterprises place huge emphasis on packaging shipments: it’s essential for protection and a fundamental that can contribute towards speedier delivery and painless cross-border customs clearance.
There are multiple things that SMEs need to attend to when packing, such as internal packaging, the box itself, and the labels on a package. As a primer, below are 5 pointers every SME can implement to master the art of packaging and achieve greater rates of success when shipping abroad.
1. Evaluate your items first
Before even starting to pack, SMEs should first evaluate the nature of the items they are shipping. Factors to look at are item weight, value and fragility, as these will inform the strength – and format – of packaging that is required.
For instance, heavier items – such as machinery or magazines – require weight-suitable boxes, while fragile or high value items would do well with additional cushioning. Hazardous materials – such as batteries, powders or liquids – often require special packaging that differs according to destination. SMEs should always check with logistics partners before shipping potentially dangerous goods.
2. Use only the sturdiest packaging
For SMEs serious about offering the best in service for their customers, only the most sturdy and rigid packaging boxes would do. High quality corrugated cardboard boxes are most suited and hardy for express shipping and can ensure shipment integrity from end-to-end.
Experienced shipping couriers, like DHL, even use additional considerations, such as burst tests and edge-to-crush test limits to determine the best packaging for items, based on weight. Partnering with such couriers is an excellent way for SMEs can tap into that expertise and give their internationally shipped parcels a better chance to arrive in perfect condition.
3. Secure items with void fillers
To minimize risk of damage in-transit, SMEs need to ensure that an item sits securely within a package. It’s difficult to predict how a package will be handled at multiple transit points, and any internal movement caused by will damage both item and box, causing unfortunate frustration for both customer and business.
As a rule of thumb, items should sit 6 centimeters away from the sides and be generously surrounded by void fillers, such as bubble wrap or peanut foam. The weight of heavy items may even cause void fillers to sag or compress during prolonged transit, hence considering the sturdiness of the packing material is also important.
4. Bulk deliveries require greater care
Bulk deliveries are a great time and cost-saver for SMEs, particularly when multiple customer orders originate from one area. Most logistics partners recommend that items be packed and labelled individually first, before being consolidated and shipped in bulk, under one waybill.
Doing this speeds up distribution at the destination warehouse and reduces any room for potential error during deliveries. By tapping into the networks of most logistics partners, SMEs can even provide tracked shipping for their customers, while ensuring that deliveries are performed, transported and cleared efficiently and seamlessly at every point of the journey.
5. Pay attention to labels and paperwork
Logistic carriers and customs officers rely exclusively on labels and paperwork for information when handling, inspecting and delivering packages. Mislabeling or failure to include accurate information – particularly for dangerous goods – in paperwork will cause costly customs holdups, damages and even failure during deliveries.
Shipment labelling and paperwork is a detail-heavy and complicated area of logistics, and can understandably be overwhelming for unfamiliar businesses. SMEs would benefit best by including logistics partners or Dangerous Goods Experts such as DHL, at this stage – and every level – of the shipping process.
Expert know-how when it comes to packing for international deliveries is the only thing that stands between delivery success and frustrated customers. For SMEs serious about succeeding in today’s global e-commerce market, such knowledge is an investment that’s worthy – if not mandatory – to make.
For additional information on packing items and parcels for international shipping, access this packing guide by DHL.