Saturday, February 12, 2011

E-Commerce Cutbacks:Saving Money on Packaging

If you’re running your business entirely online, then the only method your customers have of getting your products is through shipping. While your brick-and-mortar competitors pay less in this area because their buyers walk out with a purchase, packaging is likely one of the biggest expenses you face in your daily operations. And if you’re sending out a lot of goods, you could be spending a large chunk of your profits on getting your wares to a customer’s doorstep. Of course, you don’t want to skimp on the packaging, since it provides the first impression of your company (and you want the items you sell to show up on time, in good shape, and stylishly wrapped). But there are quite a few ways you can cut back on the costs associated with packing up your products and still ensure that you meet all of your goals for customer satisfaction. Here are a few things to consider.

The appearance of the box is the first area to examine. Some companies like to use specialty boxes emblazoned with their logo or other graphics. This is a nice touch, but it can be pretty expensive to print custom boxes. Instead, consider creating sticker sheets so that you can easily stick your logo to any box (at a lot less cost). If you’re really trying to cut back on expenditures, you really don’t need to decorate the outside of the box at all. When you think about it, customers are just going to rip it open to get at what’s inside anyway. And considering how many people like to reuse shipping boxes for their own needs, they might even prefer a generic box.

Size and weight is another issue to consider. You probably can’t do much to change the size and weight of whatever you’re shipping (unless you sell guns, in which case you could decide to offer only lightweight Glocks). In any case, most people selling goods online are kind of stuck with whatever they happen to be selling. However, there are options for you to save money in this area that center on your shipping method. While most shippers charge you by weight, there are some that will take a flat fee based on box size. So if you’re shipping something small but heavy, you can go with a flat-rate box. And if you’re sending something large but light, you can opt for weight-based shipping instead. It pays to know your options for shipping and how the size or type of box your choose could save you money.

Finally, you need to think about packing materials. What goes in the box is even more important than what is on the outside, in most cases. The materials you use to pack your products will keep them protected (or not) during shipping, so they need to provide an adequate buffer against the tossing, dropping, and flipping that occurs in most shipping facilities. Whether you choose Styrofoam peanuts, plastic air pockets, crumpled packing paper, molded foam, or some other material when you pack your goods, you need to make sure it is right for your product. That said, most packing materials are comparable in their ability to cushion items for transport, so unless you’re shipping glassware, you probably don’t need to opt for top of line packing materials. In any case, there are many options to consider, and you need to pick the one that not only fits your aesthetic and marketing goals, but also meets your budgetary need.

Kyle Simpson writes for Plexpack which offers continuous band sealer, shrink packaging machinery and many other items for your e-commerce and other packaging needs.
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