Cost Saving by Gemma

If You Only Read One Article About Boxes and Packaging, Read this One

July 2016

Getting your much loved and vital products to your customers

Our clients are continually looking at ways to save money/ reduce spend within their business. But packaging quality and integrity isn't something we'd necessarily recommend economising on. It's a huge false economy of course, if your products are broken when they arrive with your customer as well as the damage on your reputation (and with the surge in online reviews, this information is very much out there in the public domain). Plus, the courier companies inspect broken items before they'll pay out on a claim; if they deem your products to have, "insufficient packaging" then you'll not be paid for the damage.

However, there are steps you can take, regarding your boxing and packaging, that'll go some way to reduce costs without sacrificing quality and your product safety.

Establish the true cost of your inventory

To determine this, besides the costs of the stock itself, you have to take into consideration the holding (including building in the cost of rent, business rates, utilities etc.), handling and other costs.

Packaging can be central to keeping these kinds of costs down, and often the simplest solution is just utilising the right kind of packaging. For example, are double wall or triple wall cardboard boxes necessary, or will single wall boxes suffice? Could you use smaller primary packaging for individual items? If you're shipping a multi-piece consignment, then consider palletising as the cost of a pallet may be considerably less than a number of boxes. Pallet optimisation is also vital, because the cost of shipping will be affected by how many pallets are dispatched, whether they're stackable, if they need a tail lift or if they can be "hand balled" and how many vehicles/ how much space is needed to transport them.

Optimising your storage facilities will also increase efficiency and lower costs including efficient staff processes, utilising Time Saving Technology and having a racking system that works for your business needs. And of course, don't forget the Business Energy needed to heat and power your storage units; is it the right type of supply for what the business unit is used for?

Harness technology

Keeping track of your orders requires good and reliable technology. Using the right technology in inventory management can increase your revenue, keep your costs down, decrease your workload and facilitate better customer service.

We'll give you access to free, Multi Carrier Shipping Software to compare parcel delivery costs with DHL, TNT, UPS, FedEx and a whole host of UK and Pallet Network specialists. This isn't a direct saving on packaging of course, but it's a soft saving in terms of your warehouse staff's time and process.

Help your staff understand your inventory

This may sound obvious, but making sure that everyone knows everything is really important as it avoids costly mistakes regarding the packaging of your products. Give employees the commercial lowdown in terms of what breakages mean to your business; good employees will always take pride in their work and will want to ensure your products arrive on time and undamaged.

Align your supply chain partners

Your strategy must encompass your supply chain partners as their practices have an impact on your inventory management and getting your products from A to B. Using one partner for all your collection and delivery needs will significantly improve your warehouse (including booking, tracking, retrieving PODs etc.) and accounting processes.

Make sure that you have a reliable courier when sending out your products. The most reliable courier isn't necessarily the one that a rep from that company has stated they are! We're impartial and can guide you based on your process, the type of products you send and where you're sending them to and this won't cost you anything either. As a general rule, it'll likely save you money on both delivery costs and your process as well as other areas too.

Packaging your products

Make sure you have a very strong box and lots of protective packaging, place the item in the middle of the box and pack around it.

It may be a good idea to invest in foam lined boxes, which are very effective at protecting your goods and are more aesthetically pleasing to your customers. Plus, the overall Volumetric Weight of a foam lined box is often smaller and lighter, meaning it'll save you on actual delivery costs.

Reduce the risk of shipping hazardous materials by upping the amount of protection that goes into your packaging. At the very least, this would mean a stronger boxing although your best bet would be a plywood case; this has the added benefit of being perfect for export, because as treated wood, it's not subject to restrictions.

Good void fill is always a good idea, but if you're shipping a hazardous liquid, you can use a special variety called vermiculite. It's a non-flammable natural mineral that can absorb up to four times its weight in liquid, and bind certain liquids, including paint, ink and acids. That means that any spillage that should occur is immediately and safely dealt with. Of course, you'll need Dangerous Goods packing lists (which Procuright can advise you on) but none compliance may mean you being "black listed" by the carriers.

It's a good idea to make sure that you never invest in poor quality boxes, not only do they not look good, but you increase the risk of damage quite substantially. If a product arrives damaged then you may lose the customer which will be a financial impact on your business. Your reputation is at stake every time a customer receives something in a damaged box, even if the product isn't damaged.

Bulk buy your boxes and packaging to save on costs as a business and if you don't have a huge requirement, why not chat with some of your business neighbours? It may be that you're all buying similar boxes and packaging but 5 of you may be able to buy in bulk together and divide the purchase equally.

Invest in air cushion packaging. Not only does it do the same job as bubble wrap, but it's cheaper and takes up less space. Why? Because bubble wrap already has the air in it, whereas air cushion needs you to add it. By making the switch you can save almost 50% of what you were spending on bubble wrap.

Don't ever overfill a box as this can lead to breakages and damage very easily. Seriously, please don't. It may also throw your weights and dimensions out and so you're no longer receiving accurate quotes for your box that, end to end, measures 50cm X 50cm X 50cm when in reality it's bulging out to measure 58cm X 58cm X 58cm. This is even more of a false economy if you're passing on the shipping charges to your customers.

Don't use the wrong filler - research and test the packaging for the product first before sending it out. Do drop your packaged products a couple of times (no, really) to make sure the packaging and contents all hold up. Gemma has a great example of what can happen with your packaged products, "I'd been invited to watch the night time operation of one of the big carriers at East Midlands Airport (DHL, UPS and TNT are all based there but I won't tell you which one) which is truly an impressive set of procedures with an amazing process for sorting the thousands of items which pass through the hub on a daily/ nightly basis. A train of cages were being taken across the runway to their 'plane when the driver turned suddenly to avoid something. The front cage toppled and the other 4 followed suit in a domino style effect. Hundreds of packages were strewn across the runway. It was a complete accident, the clean-up operation was swift and impressive but only the products that were packaged well will have made it to their final destination unscathed and intact."

Waterproof both your labelling and boxes. We live in the UK. It rains a lot. And many items which are shipped daily don't do well when they're wet.

Consider double labelling; Gemma has another great example of why, "I'd been invited again, by one of the couriers (different to the one above), to see one of their largest local depots in action. It was a very efficient and productive conveyor belt system that they had in place, to check measure and weigh every item, but was unfortunately also gobbling up the odd label. The ops manager at the depot noticed that I'd seen it and that I was focussed on it, and said, "all it takes is for a label to have not been stuck down properly or that is curled over a bit at the corner". I'd always advise sticking an extra label on your package (or even one inside) to ensure you've covered this scenario from catching you out."

Membrane boxes are also one to consider using as they are top of the range when protecting valuables. Instead of enveloping your product with lots of soft, aerated polystyrene or polyurethane, try suspending it in a thin - but very resilient - bit of polythene in the middle of the box. That not only keeps it away from potential damage caused by the box being crushed, but also leaves space for it to move into should the worse happen. It also happens to provide a very polished and professional image for the finished parcel.

Company logo/ name tape can also prevent your temporarily misplaced items, within a courier network, from being a permanently misplaced one.

Finally, when it comes to choosing the correct packaging for your product do some research. Look into the size, weight, shape and fragility of the product to help find the right packaging for it.

"Don't ever overfill a box as this can lead to breakages and damage very easily. Seriously, please don't. It may also throw your weights and dimensions out and so you're no longer receiving accurate quotes for your box that, end to end, measures 50cm X 50cm X 50cm when in reality it's bulging out to measure 58cm X 58cm X 58cm.............."