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Right-Sizing Packaging: How to Cut Costs Without Cutting Corners

Your customers are eagerly waiting for your products to arrive. But when you’re shipping orders, it’s not just the product that matters. It’s also what’s on the outside that counts.

Making your packaging as efficient as possible is a smart idea for many reasons. It can reduce your transit, storage and fuel costs by more than you might think. And, if done effectively, it will still give customers the experience they expect from you. In fact, you can even improve that experience in some cases.

Have you maximized the efficiency of your packaging? Or are you leaving potential savings on the table? Ask yourself these four questions to find out.

1. Are Your Packages Too Large?

At one time, the size of packages wasn’t as important as how much they weighed. But now that carriers calculate charges by dimensional (DIM) weight, every measurement matters. To calculate DIM weight, carriers multiply your package’s length, width and height, then divide by a set number. If your packages are longer, wider or taller than need be, your DIM weight could be higher than expected, and so could your costs.

This is a bigger issue than many ecommerce companies realize. According to a study by Packsize International, the average package shipped by an e-retailer is 40 percent air. By better matching your package size to your product — or by switching to lightweight Jiffy mailers — you can reduce DIM weight costs significantly.

Plus, you can avoid large package surcharges, which are rising every year. This July, UPS increased their large package surcharges for domestic packages by 58.3 percent. You’ll want to offset that rising fee if possible.

2. Do You Use the Right Kind of Packaging?

When you’re choosing your packaging type, you have two considerations to keep top of mind. First, what packaging will protect your items from damage? And second, what’s the smallest package you can reasonably use to keep costs low?

If you’re shipping durable products like apparel or published material, mailing envelopes can be ideal. These can be closely tailored to the size of your product, cutting down on empty space. Plus, padded mailers offer extra protection if you need it.

If your products are more delicate, a corrugated box with padding will be a safer bet. For fragile items, the added expense is worth it. The most important job of any packaging is to get items to customers safe and sound — saving you from frustrated customers and lost business. If you’re unsure which packaging is best for you, test your parcels to make sure you’ve made an appropriate choice.

3. Have You Taken Opportunities to Personalize?

The design of your mailers or boxes might seem like an unnecessary expense. After all, isn’t the goal to ship items cost-effectively? But one of the best ways to improve retention is to provide an experience that delights your customers. And in that respect, personalization is powerful.

Even small design elements can dramatically improve how customers feel about your company. DotCom Distribution reports that 40 percent of online shoppers are more likely to repurchase from an e-retailer that offers premium or gift-like packaging. Why not take advantage of that boost?

Don’t let the added cost intimidate you, either. Basic, single-color design elements aren’t usually terribly expensive. And the rewards can be well worth it.

4. Could You Use Some Advice?

There are plenty of ways you can improve your packaging process on your own. But it can be helpful to get an outside view on your operations from someone who knows the industry inside and out.

Some shipping carriers can examine your packaging operations and recommend optimizations you might not be aware of. By evaluating package size, weight, durability and more, these carriers can help identify the most efficient and cost-effective packaging for your products.

Remember: cutting packaging costs doesn’t mean cutting corners. Using these questions as a starting place, you can make your packaging more efficient and reliable, so what’s outside your shipments is just as good as what’s inside.