How to safely package your item for shipment without spending a dime
April 7th, 2019
If you want to make sure your item arrives undamaged, there is one single, yet simple rule to follow and here it is:
#1 - Package your item such that if it falls 3 feet above the ground repeatedly in transit it will remain undamaged.
Simple enough, right? That's the single most important guideline to follow when packaging your item. Now let's cover specific guidelines to help you acheive this goal. Below is a list of dos and don'ts.
- Do use the original box and original packaging for an item if available. They are engineered to protect the item best, especially in the case of iMacs or TVs.
- Do use recycled boxes and packaging, just make sure they are clean and don't have an odor from the previous shipment.
- Do remove or cover up any old labels on recycled boxes. Failing to do so may confuse the shipping carrier as to which label is most recent.
- Do leave 2-3 inches of clearance between your item and the inner box wall on all sides. For larger and heavier items over 16 inches in length or 16 lbs in weight consider leaving 3-4 inches of clearance on all sides.
- Do use recycled air filled packaging such as bubble wrap and/or air pillows.
- Do position the item in the center of the box so it has maximum clearance on all sides.
- Do secure the item in the box so that it cannot wiggle around or shift inside the box during transit.
- Do seal up the box securely on all sides, especially when recycling an existing box.
- Do use recycled peanuts if necessary, but keep in mind they are less pleasant to deal with when opening or unpacking an item, making a mess.
- Do fill all the loose void space inside the box before sealing it up.
- Don't place an item loose inside an empty box. Think of it like a hamster in a ball bouncing down the steps.
- Don't place an item such that it touches the inside perimeter of the box. Instead keep a 2-4 inch clerance on all sides depending on the size and weight of the item.
- Don't use padded envelopes in place of rigid boxes. Padded envelopes are for books or inexpensive items under 1 pound in weight.
- Don't use bedding, pillows, or personal clothing as padding. No one wants to receive a box of dirty laundry in addition to their goods.
- Don't use paper pads, shredded paper scraps, or stacks of newspaper as cushioning. Paper is made of wood and wood is not a good form of cushioning. If you must recycle paper as cushioning make sure it is tightly wadded into small golf ball sized spheres and provides plenty of cushioning around the item.
- Don't recycle a box that has liquid damage or crushed edges from a previous shipment.
- Don't ship an empty box in hopes of filing an insurance claim for a supposed missing item after it gets delivered. Shipping companies take insurance fraud seriously and violators can end up facing jail time.
One common misconception people have surrounding shipping services offered by UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service is that packages are mostly carried and handled by gentle human hands, similar to a moving truck being loaded and unloaded with moving boxes. The reality is the majority of the movement takes place with a series of conveyor belts, mechanical sorting arms, and various sudden drops from one sorting zone to the next. Human hands are only a small portion of the handling of the package. The average package may encounter half a dozen drops up to three feet in height each over the course of its journey from recipient to receiver. There certainly are cases of mishandling or accidents caused by equipment or employees, but the bulk of damage that occurs during shipping is due to insufficient packaging. To make matters worse, insuring your package is not a safety net that will always reimburse you in full if the contents of the package are damaged in shipping. In fact insurance claims filed with shipping companies can be similar to claims filed with auto insurance where an adjuster attempts to lowball or even deny coverage before a process of haggling back and forth takes place. The bottom line is, you want to avoid damage to your item by using properly packaging; doing so will preven costly damage not to mention time consuming insurance claims.
Proper packaging is extremely important especially if you are selling an iMac or selling a guitar. Larger and heavier items are at great risk of getting damaged, so they require more attention to detail on the packaging. At Jay Brokers we receive thousands of shipments per year from individuals and packaging stores so we've seen everything from no packaging to too much packaging. Of course it's better to err on the safe side and overpack, but following the above guidelines will set you up for success as you plan to ship your item from point A to point B.