Must-Have Packing & Shipping Supplies for Your Business
by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer
When packing and shipping are big part of your business, you dont want to waste a second running around looking for supplies. From boxes to tape to protective materials, what you need depends on what youre sending. Keeping a stockpile of the shipping and mailing products your business relies on is key.
Lets start with the basics:
Labels & Envelopes
If you send only standard correspondence, you can probably get by with standard #10 envelopes. Select security envelopes for sensitive documents like checks or legal paperwork, and padded mailers for items like printed materials or books. Use shipping labels for bulk mailings, larger envelopes and boxes. Speaking of envelopes, dont forget to stock sturdy, stick-on envelopes for packing lists and invoices, and include special handling instructions.
As part of your brand strategy, invest in integrating your name and logo across all marketing materials including your mailing envelopes and labels, suggests Veronica Kido, president of Kido Communications, a marketing communications firm in Medfield, MA. Its a consistent way to differentiate your company and show your clients and prospects that they are worth the extra investment.
Internal packing materials such as packing paper, air pillows or peanuts can be used to ensure that products inside the box are separated from each other and from the corners, sides, top and bottom of the box, allowing the box to absorb shock and vibration during shipping rather than the boxs contents, explains Rachel Kenyon, vice president of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance.
Bubble Roll and foam sheets offer top-of-the-line protection that wraps around pricey or fragile items. A multi-purpose 5/16-inch bubble roll is good for the initial protective layer, says Charles Alvino, product specialist with the mail and ship team at Staples. Then void fill with 3/16-inch Bubble Roll or packing peanuts, he suggests.
Finally, youll need lots of filler at least 2 inches between all six sides of the carton to provide additional protection, according to Anthony Caviness, china fulfillment operations manager for Replacements in Greensboro, NC. So load up on heavy corrugated paper, newsprint, peanuts or other padding.
Put down that desktop tape dispenser and pick up packaging tape made to stand up to the stress and strain of shipping and handling. The last thing you want is for your carefully packed item to bust open in transit. Heavy-duty shipping tape comes in a variety of sizes and colors, so consult your shipping professional for the best product for your specific needs. If you do a lot of volume, save time and your hands and invest in a shipping tape dispenser, too.
Make sure you try out different sized boxes before selecting one for your shipment, Kenyon says. Choosing a box thats too big could cause your contents to move around during shipping and increase the risk of damage before the shipment arrives at its destination. Choosing a box thats too small can also cause damage if theres not enough space between the outer box and the inner contents. Purchase the most rigid box possible to withstand the rigors of different types of shipping distribution systems, she says. Corrugated boxes have a very high strength-to-weight ratio, making them the best choice for mailing and shipping.
And a quick word about reusing boxes: The more a box is used, the more it loses its original protective qualities and may not be able to protect your shipment, Kenyon says. If the box youve chosen for reuse is punctured, torn or ripped; has crushed corners; is missing one of its flaps; or is damaged in any other way, then its best to choose a new box. Remove or cross out old labels or markings on used boxes and always include a complete return address.
Shipping Specialty Items
Certain items require special shipping products:
The pros at your local pack and ship center can help you choose the right packing supplies. And dont forget to check with industry associations for their recommendations, especially if the items youre shipping require special care.