The Tale of the Tape: Shipping and Moving Tape Are Not the Same Thing

By Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

At first glance, it can be hard to discern any significant differences between shipping and moving tape, so it’s easy to assume it’s no big deal which you use as long as it’s sticky, right? Wrong.

In fact, shipping and moving tape are specifically designed to perform the same function (keeping those containers safely closed) in different ways and under different conditions. Here’s what you need to know.

The difference between moving tape & shipping tape

To explain this tale of two stickies, we asked Kathy Magill, global portfolio manager for Scotch® Package Protection Business to highlight the differentiating factors of each product:

  • Moving and storage packaging tape features a long-lasting adhesive that works well in both hot and cold temperatures. Acrylic adhesive survives extreme temperatures and is best for storage and moving. If the box is going to be stored long term, it would be best to use moving and packaging tape.
  • Shipping tapes are best for mailing and shipping packages that may experience multiple touch points or rough handling. The adhesive provides the shear holding power to keep the box sealed and its contents intact.

“It’s best to use the specific packaging tape for its use,” she counsels.

Factors to consider when buying tape

Now that you know which type of tape to purchase, there are three additional considerations:

1. Adhesion. Of course you want tape that stays put. The best way to find out is to research reviews and ask colleagues and shipping or moving consultants which tapes they prefer. Then buy small sizes of the tapes on your short list and give them a test drive. Which one sticks best to your shipping or storage containers? Which one holds up in the warehouse or storage unit?

2. Thickness. It seems like thicker would be better, right? But Magill says not necessarily. “Mil thickness does not impact how long a box will stay sealed or if it can undergo rough handling,” she cautions. Again, a little research with actual users can help you determine the right thickness for your particular use.

3. Ease of use. Speaking of use, few things are more frustrating than wrestling with tape that just won’t come off the roll without slivering, splitting or tearing. That wastes time, money and product — and makes you crazy. To keep morale and productivity high, select tapes with a release coating that enables for an easier unwind.

The relationship between tape & your brand

Admittedly, the packages you move and store may never be seen by customers. But the shipping products you use are part of your marketing program. Flimsy or low-adhesive tape may result in damaged goods, high returns, dissatisfied customers and loss of business.

“We use specialty tape because we need consistency in the adhesive, and we want the tape to look and feel sturdy when the shipping box reaches the consumer’s location,” explains Joseph Hwang, co-founder and chief designer for Barring Eyewear Inc. in Philadelphia, which ships about 3,000 packages a year. He says the attention to tape quality is important because it impacts the presentation of the product. “Although it’s tape, it’s an extension of our brand.”

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