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Preparing Packages for Delivery: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

By shipa 29 Aug, 2019

Like any reputable courier or parcel carrier, Shipa Delivery is all about moving your precious items or products from A to B securely, carefully, and quickly. In the main, we can do that when equipped with nothing more than specified locations for collection and delivery.  

With the best will in the world, though, nobody is immune to occasional mishaps, and prevention is always better than cure.  

The way you prepare packages for delivery, for example, can influence the likelihood of an uneventful trip for your possessions or merchandise.

To help you prevent losses or damage to your parcels, this ultimate packaging cheat sheet, with checklists. It reveals all you need to know about packaging for trouble-free transportation across town—or even across international borders.

Is Your Item Flat or Fat?

The first step in preparing your items for delivery in the GCC is to select the right type of container to ship them in. For example, flat objects require cosseting in different protective surroundings to those needed for fat ones. 

Begin by asking yourself whether you need:

  1. A) A mailing envelope: You’d be surprised just how many types of items you can ship with a cost-saving mailing envelope. Soft goods, such as clothing items and other small, flattish, robust products, are perfect candidates for packing in this type of medium. 
  2. B) A Shipping box: There are only so many items you can get into a mailing envelope, so you may have no choice but to use a shipping box for your package. The same is true if your products are too big for packaging in envelopes, or are heavy.

Flat Items: Choosing a Mailing Envelope

If you can use a mailing envelope, your next step is to find the right type, because, believe it or not, there is a wealth of options from which to choose. However, your most important decision will be to cushion or not to cushion. For instance:

  • Perhaps you want extra protection for your packages. Maybe your products are breakable, or you want to show customers how much you care about the condition of their deliveries. In these cases, choose envelopes with integral bubble liners.
  • If you don’t need the protective power of bubbles, you should be able to get away with less-expensive paper envelopes. However…
  • If your products are prone to creasing, paperboard envelopes will be best, since they help to ensure the contents stay flat from dispatch to final delivery.

Fat Items: Choosing a Shipping Box

If your items fare better in boxes, you have a slightly more complex chain of decisions to make. Let’s start with size, because whatever you might have heard, it does matter. When it comes to shipping boxes, bigger is only better if you have something big to fit in them.

Of course, the only way to find out is to try some boxes on for size—not for your size, but your product’s size. If you wish to ship multiple items together in a box, that’s not so easy, so you will need to keep a range of boxes in stock. 

If you only ship single items, try different box sizes until you find one that will contain the object comfortably, with just a small void around it. Indeed, this is the golden rule for all boxed deliveries. 

Why All the Fuss About Size?

Size matters, but not as a source of bragging rights. It’s because too much space can allow box-contents to shift in transit, perhaps taking damage. The only way to prevent such movement is to add extra cushioning material in the oversized box. Beware though—the more cushioning you need, the higher your packaging costs will be. 

The quantity of cushioning is best measured in… you guessed it… inches, with two inches being optimal. If you prefer to think metric, that’s about five centimeters. 

Couriers and carriers, too, are obsessed with size, often basing their fees on volume rather than weight. Boxes that are too big will cost you more to ship than necessary. Thin air is surprisingly costly to move around by carrier.

Along with the size dilemma, you need to consider the construction of your shipping boxes. For packages weighing up to 10 kilograms, you will probably be OK with good quality, single-walled, corrugated cardboard boxes. 

For anything over 10 kilos, though, you’ll need to weigh-in with the heavyweights of the boxing world—double-walled boxes. This type of box is also best if you are shipping fragile items, or if the cartons need to be larger than 30 square centimeters.

Always Use Protection

Now let’s talk about cushioning your precious items for delivery. As mentioned earlier in this article, a two-inch thickness of cushioning material will protect the contents of a box from any impacts, and will also stop them from moving around. 

However, you have another choice to make here—which cushioning material to use. The most popular types include crumpled newsprint paper, Styrofoam peanuts, foam wrap, and bubble wrap.

Bubble wrap and foam wrap are ideal for enveloping individual items before grouping them in a multi-item shipment. Cushioning the items in this way prevents them from being damaged as they knock against one another in transit or handling. Finally, use loose cushioning like crumpled newsprint or Styrofoam peanuts to fill any void in the box before you seal it for delivery.

Checklist 1: Packing and Protection

The decisions and tasks covered so far, represent the first stage in preparing your items for delivery. They apply in the same way whether you are sending a one-off package or dispatching items in commercial volumes.  

Before moving on to discuss the next stage then, here’s a checklist to keep handy and run through until you are a packaging pro and no longer need reminders of the various steps.

Decision/Task Check Here
Decide on mailing envelopes vs. shipping boxes.
For Mailing Envelopes
Choose envelopes with bubble liners for fragile items.
Choose paperboard envelopes for products that can crease.
Choose standard paper envelopes for robust items.
For Shipping Boxes
Select single-walled corrugated boxes for lightweight contents.
Select double-walled boxes for contents over 10 kilograms.
Test box sizes to find one that is slightly larger than the contents.
Wrap individual items and fill any voids in the box, using cushioning material.

Are your items for shipping exceptionally delicate, or do you prefer to be super-cautious about protecting them? If so, you can use an inner carton to contain them, filled and cushioned, as described above. 

Seal the inner box and apply a label documenting the delivery address. It’s a good idea to add a return address too, just in case your shipment makes like a boomerang. You can then place this inner carton into a shipping box, cushion the void between the two containers, and seal your package for delivery.

Seal it and Ship it

Now it’s time to focus on the exterior of your package. If you are using mailing envelopes, this typically involves three quick and easy steps:

1) Peel the protective strip from the sealant.

2) Close the envelope flap.

3) Apply a little pressure to the seal to ensure the flap is firmly stuck down.

Again, there is a bit more to it if you are using shipping boxes. Have you ever heard of the H-taping method? If not, don’t worry, it’s not as scientific as it sounds. 

H-taping is just a way to ensure that all potential points of weakness in a shipping box are strengthened with tape, as well as securely sealing the contents inside the box.  

Tale of the Tape

The first step in H-taping is to make sure you use the best tape for the job. Choose from any of the following types of tape:

  • Shipping tape: This is the best type of tape for packages
  • Packaging tape (either the clear or the brown kind)
  • Reinforced packing tape
  • Brown polypropylene tape
  • Electrical tape

Contrary to popular belief, duct tape is a bad idea. Although it can seem that duct tape is a solution to all problems, even those that have nothing to do with ducts, it’s a terrible choice for preparing packages.  That’s because cardboard is the Kryptonite of duct tape, making it almost non-sticky and too easy to peel off—our advice is to avoid it like the plague. 

Cellophane tapes like Sellotape, and masking tapes too, are far from ideal for packages, so try to avoid them. Whichever option you settle for, be sure to use tape that’s at least two inches wide. 

With the perfect roll of tape in hand, you’re ready to make your “H.” Close the top flaps of your shipping box and apply a single strip of tape all along the gap between the two flaps. Then run one more length along each end of the box, folding it to seal the closure gaps with an inch-width of tape on the top of the box and an inch-width on the side. Repeat the H-taping process along the bottom seams of the box as well.

Label Like You Mean It

The next step is to label the sealed mailing envelope or shipping box. Your courier or last-mile delivery provider may specify the type of labels they require you to use. For example, here at Shipa Delivery, we provide our business customers with direct access to a dashboard on our platform. 

The dashboard makes it super-easy to label packages for throughput at commercial speed. It enables our business customers to download and print air waybills (AWBs) pre-populated with addresses and other valuable package details.  

Of course, you may not be not packaging commercially, or you might be using a courier that doesn’t have labeling specifications. If so, here’s the practice we recommend to our non-business customers:

1) Write or print the full delivery address, and a return address (along with any other information that will help the courier or carrier deliver your package successfully) on a shipping label and place it inside your shipping box, along with the contents. Naturally, you will need to complete this step before sealing the shipping box. If you use an inner box, the label can be applied to the outside of the inner container after you seal it. 

2) Complete the same address details and delivery instructions on a second label, and attach this to the largest surface of the shipping box (the long side or the top of the box). It can also be a good idea to cover this second label with clear tape, to protect the printed or written details from smudging and reduce the risk of the label tearing.

Checklist 2: Sealing and Labeling Your Package

The following checklist will help you make sure you perform all the right steps in sealing and labeling your package. It will spare you from the need to hold your breath (bad for your health) or cross your fingers (bad for your productivity) for the period between its dispatch and arrival at the intended destination.

Decision/Task Check Here
For Mailing Envelopes
Insert contents into the envelope.
Peel off the adhesive strip on the envelope flap.
Stick the envelope flap down and apply some firm pressure.
Apply a label to the envelope (include full delivery and return addresses).
Ready to send?
For Shipping Boxes
Choose the right type of tape to seal your box.
Make sure tape is at least two inches in width.
Seal top of shipping box using the H-taping method.
Seal bottom of the shipping box using the H-taping method.
Write/print delivery/return addresses on two shipping labels (and on the air waybill if used)
Using inner container? Affix one label on the top of the inner container.
No inner container? Place one label on top of box contents.
Affix the second label to the largest surface of the shipping box.
Cover label with transparent tape (optional).
Ready to send?

 

After checking the appropriate boxes in the checklists above, your package should be good to go. Now you can either:

  1. A) Hail a Shipa Delivery driver using our app or business dashboard
  2. B) Order a pick-up by your usual parcel delivery service
  3. C) Drop your package off at a courier dispatch center 

Hint: option “A” is extra-fast and convenient.

However, as you might expect from an ultimate cheat sheet, we’re not done yet. Our final checklist provides you with some tips for preparing packages in specific scenarios, such as when sending liquids or powders.

Checklist 3: Tips for Packaging Specific Item Types

Special Requirement Guidelines to Follow Check Here
Shipping small, loose items? Pack them together in a plastic bag inside the shipping box.
Need to protect against moisture? Place items in a durable plastic bag or container, then place inside the shipping box.
Are you using an inner box? Use the manufacturer’s packaging as an inner box if applicable.
Liquids Seal containers in a plastic bag before packing into the shipping box.
Odorous/greasy products Wrap in greaseproof paper before boxing.
Powder/granular material Place in robust, securely sealed plastic bags before boxing.
Shoes Shoe boxes are not reliable. Double-box your shoes for delivery.
Fragile items Add a “Fragile” label to your envelope or box.
Perishables Add a “Perishable” label to your envelope or box.

A Final Tip for Package Preparation

If you follow the guidance offered here in our Ultimate Parcel Preparation Cheat Sheet, you will be a packaging impresario in no time. However, there is just one more thing to know before you put our tips into practice. 

Yes, young Padawan (our writer is a Star Wars fan… sorry!), your training will be complete only when you know your courier or carrier. 

Some carriers have specific criteria for packaging. For example, as mentioned earlier, they may require you to use their proprietary labels. For that reason, it’s best to familiarize yourself with your chosen carrier and its requirements.  

Here at Shipa Delivery, we have no such criteria. All you need do is place a pin in a map in our app and provide a delivery and return address label. That’s all we require to pick up your package from wherever you want, and deliver it, on-demand and in pristine condition. Please don’t let that stop you from following the packaging advice in this cheat sheet though—there’s no harm in being extra sure.

Ready to experience the Shipa Delivery difference? Download our app today, and let’s get your packages moving, across the UAE and beyond.

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