May 11, 2011

Packaging Up the Impossible: How To Do it Right

Two days ago a large, fragile, expensive, antique medical item sold in my shop-providing the perfect opportunity to illustrate what I preach to you about shipping. (I included a photo of his flattering side. His other side is rather graphic)

How you ship and how your shipping is perceived by the customer is critial to your shops success.

Two things are important to keep in mind with every package, especially large ones. 

1. They will be dropped from a substantial height. 

2. They will be bumped, jostled, possibly kicked and will have heavy items piled on top of them.

With these two points in mind, we began our packaging. Our item was 28 1/2 inches high, made of antique plaster, was around 90 years old and sold for $750. The pressure was on. Fortunately, we had had the foresight to charge the customer enough for shipping. Mr Anatomy was wrapped several times with bubble wrap which gave him a thick padding. Even his wood base was wrapped in order to allieviate any vibrations. 

The first step was to find a box. After several minutes of try outs, we realized a box would have to be made. Kelly is my amazing assistant and tackled this task admirably. She got a little goofy while doing this since the entire packing job took over an hour. Well worth it though. (and to be honest, what we love about her is that she's generally always on the verge of goofy) 

She found a box that was just 1 inch short of the statues height. We knew we wanted at least 6-8 inches of padding on all sides so she built the box up by 7 inches. This much space is critcal in packaging fragile items-peanuts should be firmly packed in to absorb any shock caused by dropping. 

The peanuts that went under the statue needed to be secured. Every time I've received a heavy item, the weight of the item has pushed all the peanuts up the sides, leaving the item against a bare box bottom (and often shattered as a result). Not too good for absorbing shock. We handled this problem by cutting a piece of cardboard the same size as the box bottom and taping it over the peanuts. Problem solved. 

The peanuts were packed around and around and around. Pressed down over and over, firmer and firmer. Why? 

Imagine your item packaged with lots of peanuts, but rather loosely. Now imagine a bag of potato chips. Those start out full. By the time they reach us, they've settled due to being jostled and thrown about in trucks. 

You need to compensate for all that jostling. The postal employees probably do not think about what's inside the box when they're lifting it. They want to get home to their families. It's our responsiblity to make sure the package gets there safe, not theirs. While we can't control the trucks, we can control the quality of the item riding around in them. 

Peanuts were put between the double box layers. Extra insurance and well worth the effort.

The box was built. It wasn't pretty so Kelly put another box over the bottom one to hide the imperfections. It will also help the package escape any damage from machines that might catch on loose cardboard pieces.

Finally it was taped up and ready to go! Kelly did an amazing job and our customer is sure to be happy. He said he'd already ordered one of these and it had arrived shattered. He specifically requested an excellent packaging job. Here's to success! 


Susan from The T-Cozy said...

Superb packing job! It should get there in one piece for sure. Let us know!

Amy Mortensen said...

Fabulous post! Love the step by step pics.

Nora-transient*treasures said...

Great post. The step-by-step photos and instructions are SO informative. THANK YOU! (and Kelly is too cute)

Fairyfiligree said...

What a task! But if I were the buyer, I would appreciate all the effort put in, and as a seller, I would certainly want to avoid problems with my customer. It's a waste to have good items ruined in transit. And yes, the postal people cannot stop and think about each & every item they're handling, especially if they're heavy. Thanks for sharing this & do let us know what the customer says at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent advise on packing -- especially the cardboard sheet to keep the peanuts from riding up. Also box-within-a box. Keep the great ideas coming! Thanks!~ Patricia

Anonymous said...

Awesome post!! I'm a huge fan of box within a box and I actually try to (carefully)shake my box around until I can't hear any movement!

Megan said...

We have trouble finding affordable packing supplies. We try to re-use packing supplies from local businesses, but this option isn't always available. Do you have recommendations for places to get hordes of bubble wrap and peanuts?

cherrylippedroses said...

...excellent post...learned some things for the future...THANK YOU!


Nachokitty said...

I get nearly all my supplies for free. I use Freecycle and people with left over supplies offer them up. I'm very picky about quality. This package I showed you all is one of my rough ones since the box was so huge.

Niftic Vintage said...

What TREMENDOUS tips. I never thought about peanuts that way. I am forever not listing items that I feel may be a problem to ship but now I have gained new confidence. I can't thank you enough for this informative piece.

Renea Luong said...

It's not very easy to pack a fragile item, especially if the package has to go a long way. This will require extra time, like what you have done here, to make sure it will arrive to its destination safe and sound. I like the idea of using peanuts. Unlike foam, peanuts flow freely once poured into the box. This is more convenient to the packer, as the peanuts will fill the spaces with less effort.

Renea Luong @Legacy TSI