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Pack Well or Get Reshipped – How to Ship Smarter as a Small Business Part 6

Like most young women in America, my wife loves Taylor Swift. To her, T-Swizz hung the stars in the sky. So when Taylor’s newest album was released and wasn’t available through our Spotify account (as always, due to T-Swift’s anti-streaming business strategy), I went ahead and ordered it online for her as an early birthday present.

5 days later, the box shows up at our doorstep from the big box online retailer that I had purchased it from (we won’t name names, but their box definitely didn’t make me smile). I’d told her to be expecting an early present, so she ripped into the box excitedly – only to find the CD cracked and unusable.

The problem was the box that the company had used for this one CD was about 6 times too big. There was nothing to cushion the CD. So when it was shipped across the country, it rattled around the entire time, causing it to break.

You can only imagine how angry she was after she realized she would have to wait at least another week to listen.

How to avoid the headache

From the retailer’s point of view, this type of packing oversight cost a lot of unnecessary money. Aside from the cost of replacing the item, the company also had to pay for shipping again. They also had to pay for the poor customer service rep who had to field the call from my wife in to voice her disapproval of their less than intelligent shipping practices.

So how do you avoid wasting time and money for returns due to poor packing? It’s pretty simple: pack your items well!

Here are a few suggestions on how to make sure you’re packing your items well. Additionally, you can check out packing guides from your shipping vendors (like this one from UPS) to make sure you’re doing everything right.

1. Use quality boxes.

If your boxes are cheap, chances are they won’t stand up to the rigors of shipping, resulting in damaged goods.

2. Use correctly sized boxes.

Don’t put a 2″ x 2″ product in a 12″ x 12″ box. While this may seem really straightforward, many companies overlook just how important this is, instead employing a “one size fits all” approach. If you don’t have boxes that are small enough, consider using packing envelopes instead.

3. Wrap your items. Individually first.

The type of products you sell will determine they type of padding/protection you will want to use. For us at, the biggest concern with our labels is getting scuffs and scrapes on the label surface. So we use a plastic bag to wrap each individual roll. Then we use an appropriately sized box to make sure the label isn’t crashing around while being shipped. If you have more fragile items, you may need to use a more padded or foam-type substance to pack your items.

4. Use the right tape!

Use a quality packing tape that is at least 2 inches wide to secure your packages. Don’t cut costs on your tape. If your tape comes off or is easily damaged, then you’ll end up with an open box and ruined products.

5. Use the Packager’s Golden Rule:

Do unto your packages as you would want others to do to your packages.

Next week, we’ll look at what packing supplies you should be using and where to get them in How to Ship Smarter as a Small Business Part 7.