If you ship items overseas often, you’ve probably made mistakes before. You carefully pack your items into your boxes, affix shipping labels, and send them out — only to have your packages returned with huge fees. Or you get complaints from customers that they never received your shipment.
Although shipping internationally has huge advantages for any e-Commerce business, it’s easy to make costly packaging mistakes if you’re not careful. When you’re shipping items overseas, whether for business or personal reasons, avoid these 9 packaging mistakes.
1. Using the wrong box
The biggest error e-Commerce businesses make is packing their items in the wrong type of box. Whether it’s too big, too bulky, or improperly sealed, an incorrectly packed box will cause delays and may cost you money. Your courier service may even refuse to take it unless you fix it.
Always ensure you use the right sized packaging for your items. If it’s too big you’ll have to add extra packing materials, which is wasteful. If it’s too small, your items will bulge and make your box unstackable.
2. Not adding enough protection
Some people choose the correct sized box but fail to pack the items inside of it correctly. Make sure your items have plenty of protection so they won’t slam against the sides of the box and break during transit.
Hollow items are often overlooked when packing for international shipment. People leave hollow items empty, making them more susceptible to damage as they’re being shipped overseas. Pack your items with adequate protection. If you use the right box size, you won’t have to use extra packing materials to keep your items safe, either.
3. Too much packaging
Although protecting your items is vital, it is possible to add too many packing materials. This kind of mistake won’t delay shipment, but it will add extra weight which could cost you more. Excessive packaging is also a nuisance to your e-Commerce customers. They may not want to have to rifle through hundreds of packing peanuts and bubble wrap to get their items.
Adding unnecessary packing materials is also wasteful and harmful to the environment. Your customers might not appreciate your lack of concern for sustainability in shipping and take their business elsewhere. Getting just the right amount of packing materials in your shipments is more crucial than it seems.
4. Packing with non-recyclable materials
Today, green shipping is a must. Shipping with environmentally friendly materials or upcycling old boxes and packaging products is easier than ever. If you’re an e-Commerce business, your customers may be turned off by oversized boxes full of styrofoam and bubble wrap, especially if your company promotes sustainability.
It can be more costly to ship with recyclable materials, which is why upcycling whenever you can is important. Re-use old boxes, allow customers to make returns with the same packaging materials, or offer your customers a green shipping option that takes longer but reduces your shipping costs.
5. Not knowing the packaging requirements
You can’t use the correct box size or adequate amount of packing materials if you don’t know your courier’s requirements. Companies such as FedEx and UPS have standardized sizes and measurements that help determine pricing tiers.
Before you start packing, read the company’s requirements online first. Don’t give the courier service any reason to reject your package or charge you more.
6. Forgetting to remove old labels
Re-using old boxes is great for the environment, but many people make the mistake of forgetting to remove the old labels. If the old label is too difficult to remove, paste the new label over it so it doesn’t confuse the courier service. You may face fees, delays, or other penalties for two conflicting shipping labels, and creating a hassle with the shipping company.
7. Putting the wrong address
One of the most common mistakes business owners and individuals make when shipping overseas is putting the wrong address. This often happens on e-Commerce sites. Customers may enter their address with a typo by accident, or the retailer copies it incorrectly. Individuals who fill out address labels by hand can easily write the wrong street number or postal code, especially if they’re sending the package to another country, where the address formats may differ from their own.
Before sending a package overseas, always verify the address with your intended recipient. One solution to this problem for e-Commerce retailers is adding an address verification feature to their websites. Although such a service can be expensive, it will also cut down on delays, returned packages, and extremely high handling fees.
8. Using wood pallets
For large shipments, some shipping companies recommend using wood pallets. In most cases, shipping with wood pallets is acceptable, and they have huge upcycling potential. However, some countries have restrictions on wood pallets crossing their borders, for fear of termites or other insects. Before deciding a wood pallet is your best option, check your destination country for restrictions.
9. Incorrect labels
Incorrect labeling is a common mistake in international shipping. Sending a package outside your country usually comes with extra labelling requirements, as the parcel must pass through customs.
Many countries require a country of origin certificate for packages shipped from abroad. The country or region you’re shipping to may also require labels for certain food items, hazardous materials, or other items. Check with your destination country’s customs service for their labelling and packing requirements, especially if you’re shipping commercially.
Customs paperwork and labelling requirements can be complex. Letting a certified customs broker handle it for you can ensure your packages comply with customs regulations on every shipment you send.
A customs broker can help you avoid mistakes
If you’re running an e-Commerce business that relies on international shipping, you don’t have time to fret over shipping details. You have your products, website maintenance, accounting, marketing, and several other business operations to handle. Working with a customs broker like BorderBuddy takes the hassle out of international shipping. Contact us today to see how we can help you avoid costly shipping mistakes.