BLOG: Boxing clever: 5 principles for the perfect parcel

01 November 2017 Featured

By Tom Ashley, Client Services and IT Director

For any e-commerce business that delivers its products to the customer’s door, the power of packaging cannot be underestimated. In this series of blogs, ILG Strategic Development Manager Lee Simmons and I have been offering our insight into the fundamentals of fulfilment and logistics. Nothing is more fundamentally important than the way your products are packaged.

Think inside the box

It’s our favourite slogan, because it reflects the attention we pay to the way our clients’ products are packed. There are few things in the world more simple than a box, yet choosing the best box for you can be a complex process requiring a number of careful considerations. How much protection does it need to provide? What impression will it make on the customer? How much will it cost? Is it recyclable? What information does it need to carry?

When it comes to packaging you really can make it as basic or as fancy as you wish, depending on the impression you want to make. At ILG we talk about delivering experiences, not just parcels; if someone has spent £300 on a beautiful dress they want to get that wow moment and don’t want to be picking a creased bundle of material out of the bottom of a courier bag.

Similarly, if they have bought a piece of hi-tech gadgetry, a simple, practical box that protects its contents and presents them in a neat, orderly fashion can add to the sense of functionality and cool.

The five chief considerations

You have a lot of decisions to make when choosing how to package your products, including your choice of colours, materials etc, but we advise that you begin by pinning down the following five considerations.

Protection – This has to be the first consideration. Everything you send out to customers needs some level of protection, whether that’s from breakage, creasing or just the grubby hands of the delivery driver. Whatever you’re sending, make sure that the grade of box and any padding inside is sufficient.

Size – If you’re sending out thousands of parcels each year, every penny you spend on your packaging will have a significant impact on your bottom line. You need to consider the cost of the packaging itself, the cost that your fulfilment partner will charge for packaging your items and the cost of delivery. As Lee will explain in more detail in the next post, the size of your packaging will directly affect your shipping costs. This needs to be balanced with the effect you want to create when the package is opened. A garment crammed into the smallest possible package is not going give the same wow factor as it would if presented in a generously proportioned box.

There are other practicalities to consider too: for example, do you want to be able to post your parcel through a letterbox? If so, you need to do your research and establish the average UK letterbox size. Are you shipping internationally? If so, you need to take into account dimensional weight. In simple terms, that’s w x h x d / 4,000.

Simplicity – Time really is money when it comes to fulfilment, so the more efficient you can make things the better. For example, the tissue paper we use to pack products for Charlotte Tilbury is pre-cut, saving our packers a lot of time. Another example is the use of elasticated bows rather than hand tied bows. While these have a higher unit cost, they help to reduce packing fees and provide a more consistent look.

Returns – With an average return rate of 20-30% in Fashion, retrieving returned items is as important now as delivery. You can use your packaging to make this very easy for customers. Consider including instructions on opening the parcel to avoid damaging the contents, tear strips, reseal strips, returns instructions or even an empty jiffy bag for the customer to return the item in. Anything you can do to make life easier will increase customer satisfaction and boost your brand image

Storage – The size of your packaging will affect your storage costs but so will the way you manage your purchasing. Try to avoid buying a year’s supply of packaging in one go. Not only will this put a dent in your cashflow, it will also lead to storage charges from your fulfilment partner. At ILG we work with a provider to get you the best possible rates, with a weekly top-up service to reduce your storage costs and spread the costs in line with your volumes.

The way you package your products is almost as important as the items themselves. With our insight and your creative thinking, it’s possible to come up with solutions that are both practical and impactful, while keeping your budget protected too.

Previous: Defining your pick and pack preferences

Next: Control of dispatch and carriers