How Your Supplier Needs To Pack Your Goods & Why It's Important

Packaging your goods correctly is an essential part of the importing process. Not only does this make everything easier, but having your goods packaged safely and correctly avoids damage and ensures that your insurance can't wriggle out of any claims if something does go wrong.

How often do you think about packaging? Probably only when you’re shipping a package out, right?

When you’re buying goods online, you don’t call the shop up and tell them you want your vase bubble-wrapped in a box, do you? Of course not – you assume that they’ll package your goods correctly to get them safe to you. If they don’t and your goods arrive damaged, you’d expect a full refund.

If that’s how it usually works when you buy a product on Amazon or through an online shop we understand why you wouldn’t think any differently when you buy goods overseas. Is the correct way to think? No – but that’s why we’re here. Read through the rest of this post and let us clear everything up . . .

  • How Goods Are Packaged

    When we’re talking about packaging your goods, we’re referring to how the supplier packages your goods for their journey. The container is not a part of this packaging. Your supplier will generally load your goods into cartons and sometimes place these cartons onto pallets to be shipped.  It’s important that the packaging used is fit for the journey that the shipment will undertake.  If you’re returning the vase you borrowed from Mrs Smith over the road it wouldn’t need to be packaged as well as if you’re sending it in the post.  If you’re shipping 100 vases from the other side of the world in a container with lots of other peoples goods then you have to be even more thorough with the packaging.

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    This is how the process of your goods being packaged should typically go.

    Is Packaging Up To My Supplier?

    Yes and no.

    Yes in the sense that your supplier is the one physically packaging your goods and taking care of all those costs – you don’t need to concern yourself with the packaging.

    No in the sense that you should certainly take an interest. Making sure that your supplier packages your goods in a suitable way for transportation is very important, especially if you’re paying to insure the shipment. This means that, if you don’t follow up with your supplier and your goods end up being damaged due to the packaging being substandard, you may not be covered.  Here’s what the small print in the insurance policy will probably say about it:

    In no case shall the insurance cover loss, damage or expense caused by insufficiency or unsuitability of packing or preparation of the subject-matter insured to withstand the ordinary incidents of the insured transit where such packing or preparation is carried out by the Assured or their employees or prior to the attachment of this insurance”

    Ouch!

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  • Cartons

    When you think about it, it’s pretty obvious why it’s important for your goods to be packaged well – they go through a lot. Generally speaking, most importers don’t think about how many hands touch their goods and how much they’re jostled around.  The cartons are loaded onto a truck, unloaded from the truck, loaded into a container, unloaded from the container etc. etc….

    However, the true danger that often slips under the radar is gravity. When your goods are loaded onto a pallet, they’re all placed on top of each other – so your bottom boxes are feeling the weight of your other boxes (and maybe one or two of someone else’s).

    When your goods are being packaged into cartons, you need to be more careful than you may think. The way that these individual cartons are individually packaged is crucial to the end result. The secret formula to well-packaged goods that survive sea freight?

    • Tightly packed, full boxes. There should be no free space – and where there is there should be padding. This ensures that your box is strong and won’t end up crushed.
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      The products are packaged well; there is no free space in the box

      As you can see, these products are well packed within this box. If there’s space on any side of the smaller compartments, polystyrene could be used to fill the gap. The reasoning for not wanting space within the box is simple – free space means crushed cartons.

    • Tip – if there is free space, take the opportunity to get some extra protection in.

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      Without the extra padding, there would’ve been a lot of empty space in this carton, but the extra protection ensures the goods are safe and makes the boxes stronger and less easily crushed.

    • To this end, solid products are easier to pack. A lot of soft products release “fresh air” as other goods press down on them throughout the transit and can “settle in transit” – which ends up in a crushed carton.  Think about Wheetabix vs Corn Flakes.  The Corn Flake box always looks half full when you open it with all the flakes at the bottom and air at the top whereas the Wheetabix stays just the way it was packed due to little extra air being in the box!  Suddenly, I feel hungry… anyway…..

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      Gravity wins – make sure your boxes form a solid base, or they may be crushed.

    • You want to make sure that there is no air left in these cartons – air is what gives and ends up folding under the pressure.

    If your supplier doesn’t package your goods well enough, there can be serious issues. If your boxes are too full, they can burst open and if they aren’t full enough they could collapse.

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  • Pallets

    Pallets are the wooden slabs that your cartons are packaged onto. Not all suppliers use these as they have to be fumigated and are less space-efficient than purely packaging with cartons. On the other hand, pallets are a much safer way and easier way to transport and handle your goods. (This is because forklifts can be used with pallets instead of people having to manually move the cartons.)

    pallets

    If your goods are fragile, it’s a good idea to ensure that your supplier packs your goods onto pallets for their optimum protection.

    As with cartons, there are a few things you can ask your supplier to do to make sure that your goods are packed onto pallets as safely as possible. It may seem like we’re nit-picking – but remember that any damage due to insufficient packaging will not be compensated. Insurance companies have a tight grip on their wallets, so protect yours!

    1. Shrink wrap the goods onto the pallet.

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      This is a well wrapped pallet; the boxes are well stacked and shrink wrapped to ensure they don’t fall out of place

    2. Stack the boxes properly. This means making sure that the boxes aren’t hanging over the side of the pallet, that the weight will be distributed evenly and that your goods are stable. It’s like really high-stakes Jenga.

      well-packed-pallet

      This is a well packed pallet.

    Not all goods need to be palletised, but it can be a real help to have goods on pallets while they’re being transported.

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  • Crates

    If you have extremely precious cargo, however, you may want to forgo the pallets and opt for something even better – a crate.

    crate

    A crate is the safest – but most expensive – way to package your goods. It practically ensures their safety, but has to be custom made, which adds to the price.

    Crates are specially built for your cargo and are the safest form of packaging that there is. Often built of wood, they’re commonly used for transporting machinery. One of the drawbacks of crating is the same issue that suppliers can run into when packaging goods on pallets – exporting wood.

    There are regulations when it comes to exporting wood. These include treating the wood with necessary chemicals and fumigating it to ensure that any dangerous organisms are destroyed. All of this adds on extra work and cost for the supplier, who sometimes may be unenthusiastic about the prospect.

    If you want anymore information about packaging, or just have a few questions, feel free to contact us! We’ll be happy to help!

    If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, make sure to share and pass the information along – and remember the information we shared, so that you aren’t caught out!


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