Tuesday, February 13, 2018

E-Commerce Packing Tips to Keep Customers Happy

When e-commerce products are packed well for their journey, they make your customers smile.  Products damaged in transit lead to frustrated and irritated customers who ultimately choose not to buy from you again.

Good packaging practices for e-commerce / e-fulfillment
Packaging your products well means they look as good coming out of the box as they did going into it. Good packing practices also help reduce product loss and the costs associated with it.

Here are some tips to protect your products along their way to your customers:

1) Take a good look at your product. There’s more to shipping a product than width, length, weight.  Assess your products in terms of fragility and sensitivity to exterior elements. The fragility of a product will help you decide the amount of void fill you’ll need to protect your product and minimize how much it shifts inside the box during shipment. The exterior elements that could impact your product as it moves through the supply chain include exposure to light, shifts in temperature and contact with moisture. Identifying these factors helps you decide on the packaging and shipping options right for you.

 2) Choose the box. For the best protection, ship in new corrugated boxes. Simple cardboard boxes aren’t strong enough to make it through the supply chain intact. Pay attention to the box’s Edge Crush Test rating (ECT). The ECT identifies the amount of weight that can be stacked onto a box wall before it collapses. Also, find out the box’s burst test strength. The burst test strength identifies the amount of pressure that will cause the box to break down. Evaluating boxes based on these ratings can prevent breakable products from being crushed and heavier products from tearing the box.

A single-wall corrugated box is most often used for small and medium sized products. These boxes cost from a few cents to a little over a dollar each, depending on the size. Double-walled or triple-walled corrugated boxes are better suited for larger, heavier and more fragile products. They have increased ECT and burst test strength. These boxes are more expensive (between $2 and $4 per box depending on size) but are well-worth it to protect heavier and more fragile shipments. Not incidentally, they also do more to protect your ongoing relationship with your customers.

 3) Cradle the contents. To prevent shifting and breakage during transport, you’ll want to use void fill. This material fills in the spaces between the products and the carton. It reduces the amount your product can shift during transportation. Air pillows are an excellent (and recyclable) solution for packing fragile products. For particularly fragile or expensive products, like hand-crafted items and electronics, you may also want to box twice. That means you’re packing your products inside two boxes; one small enough to fit inside the other with enough room to cushion all around it with air pillows.

 4) Seal it right. The right tape protects the integrity of the shipping box and showcases your brand.  Branded water-activated tape, also known as gummed paper tape, which is water-activated tape on which a message or logo has been printed, provides these advantages:

✔ Branded look – Custom printed water-activated tape showcases your brand and improves the appearance of your package.
✔ Secure Bond – The tape’s adhesive bonds to corrugated cartons, even in dusty or dirty environments.
✔ Added Protection – Water-activated tape is available reinforced with fiberglass fibers for an additional layer of defense against opening as your product faces the rigors of the supply chain.
✔ All-Weather Use – Gummed paper tape is not affected by extreme hot or cold temperatures.
✔ Theft Protection – A carton sealed with water-activated tape can’t be opened without leaving a broken seal.

5) Address for success. To ensure that your shipments make it through the carrier’s processing equipment, make sure delivery and return addresses appear on only one side of the package. The U.S. Postal Service recommends that addresses not contain commas, periods or additional punctuation.  They also suggest that addresses be parallel to the longest edge of the package. For added protection, put an extra address label inside the package, in case the external label is lost, damaged or becomes unreadable.

 6) Protect those address labels. Wet weather not only damages boxes, it can make address label tough to read. Cover the address area of the label with clear tape, avoiding any barcodes that need to be scanned.

 7) Choose your shipping day carefully. Ship perishable products on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, preferably for next-day delivery. If you must ship perishables on Thursday or Friday, make sure they are properly packaged and can withstand a journey of up to four days through variable temperatures.

You spend a lot of time, energy and resources producing products you’re proud of. Make sure that your e-commerce packages arrive safely so your customers are delighted by all you did to make them special.

Would you like to receive a free, water-activated tape sample?  If so, click here.

Better Packages | Water-Activated Tape Dispensers and Tape

Better Packages offers a complete line of water-activated tape dispensers.  Its parent company, Intertape Polymer Group, sells a full line of Central® brand water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape. In addition to providing products for packing stations, the companies help their customers analyze and solve their packing station challenges.

[This post republished from the Better Packages Blog]

Thursday, February 8, 2018

7 Tips for Packing and Shipping Heavy Items

Packing and shipping heavy items has its own set of challenges. Your packaging has to be stronger and more protective than for standard shipments. Why? Because heavier shipments are more likely to be moved by forklift rather than human power and to switch trucks several times on the way to their destinations.
Pack heavier items properly to avoid them being damaged or destroyed during the packing and shipping process

It’s up to you, as the shipper, to pack these heavier items properly to avoid them being damaged or destroyed by handling by heavy warehouse equipment and switching between large tractor-trailer trucks. And, in fact, some carriers will refuse to accept items that they feel won’t survive the crush of a hydraulic lift or the arms of a forklift.

When shipping heavy items, shippers should make sure they can withstand:

✔ Getting dropped
✔ Being subjected to vibration from conveyor belts and trucks
✔ Experiencing compression on all sides from indiscriminate stacking
✔ Undergoing temperature and humidity changes

How do you avoid these problems? By doing a better job packing. Here are some tips to help you do that:

1) Ship on a proper pallet. Some heavier items are best served by securing them to a pallet. The pallet should be made of wood or plastic and be able to withstand the stress of being hauled and lifted. Such shipments should never exceed the weight restrictions of their pallet, according to a Shopify blog called,  “7 Quick Fixes for Your Biggest Shipping and Fulfillment Problems.”

2) Choose Durable Packaging. Choose corrugated cartons strong enough to withstand the weight of a full load of packages stacked on top of them. Only use new corrugated cartons that have been sealed securely with reinforced water-activated tape. You may also want to add an extra level of product protection to the inside of the box by placing a layer of Styrofoam along the bottom, sides and top of the shipment. Reinforce the bottom of the box with extra layers of reinforced water-activated tape for extra protection.

3) Wrap and cushion the items. Place heavy items in the center of the box so they don’t tilt when they are being carried. Surround them with a thick layer of air pillows for more product protection. Fill in any empty spaces inside the box. Never use crumpled newsprint or packing paper as it will compress during shipment. Make sure nothing moves inside the shipment. Heavier items are more likely to shift within a box.

4) Add another box. Slip the packed box into another box that is larger than the first and pad the empty space with air pillows. Depending on the item, you want to leave at least two inches of clearance between the inner and outer boxes. Really fragile items like heavy vases will require more clearance. You need to have adequate cushioning to protect the item in case the box is dropped or punctured.

5) Seal the box with water-activated tape. For heavier items, choose fiber-glass reinforced water-activated tape for extra protection. Water-activated tape actually bonds to a corrugated shipping box, protecting it from opening during transport. Using tape that is not designed for packing probably won't protect the box from opening during transit or may allow pilfering during the trip.

6) Avoid making boxes too heavy. Consider breaking especially heavy shipments into multiple boxes and wrapping individual components separately. Overly heavy boxes are more likely to break in shipment and present a greater risk that those lifting them may drop the carton.

7) Give it a shake. After the shipment is sealed, shake it. Make sure things can't move around inside the box. Anything that can move will smash other fragile objects in the box and potentially crush packing material. If you can hear things rattling around or shifting, you need to open the package and repack it. Many carriers will refuse to accept a box if items sound like they are rattling around inside.

The bottom line is this: Heavy items are especially prone to damage as they move through the supply chain. Properly packing them means they are more likely to withstand the vagaries of fork lifts, conveyor belts, transfers to multiple trucks and the challenges of over-the-road transit. That means fewer damaged goods and returns and, in the end, customers who more likely to purchase from you again.

Interested in trying a free sample roll of water-activated tape? Request a FREE tape sample

[This post republished from the Better Packages Blog]

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

American® Tape Celebrates 65 Years!

Founded in 1953 by Chris Kurzweil Sr. in Port Huron, Michigan, American Tape grew moderately in its first ten years while providing a paper masking tape line to the automotive manufacturing firms in the Midwest.
Founded in 1953 by Chris Kurzweil, Sr in Port Huron, Michigan

After moving to Marysville, Michigan in 1963, American Tape expanded and changed ownership several times until joining the IPG family in 1997 (while retaining the American® brand name). Today, IPG Marysville produces a large variety of masking tapes, flatback and reinforced (filament) tapes sold around the world. The high temp masking tapes are still highly recognized and well known in the Automotive Market.
During WW2, IPG Marysville's current location was a magnesium plant owned by a defense corporation

The plant consists of several coating lines and slitters, along with equipment to mix and make adhesives. Approximately 250 employees represent IPG Marysville, ranging from Manufacturing and Shipping, to R&D, Accounting, IT, Purchasing, Engineering, Marketing, Customer Service and more.


1953 – American Tape founded by Chris Kurzweil, Sr in Port Huron, Michigan
1963 – Moved to Marysville, Michigan for expansion
1965 – Purchased by Armour & Company
1969 – Purchased by Greyhound – name changed to Armour Greyhound
1971 – Sold to Akzona – name changed to Armak
1983 – Sold to private investors including Chris Kurzweil, Jr – name changed back to American Tape
1990 – Sold to Seoul Trading Company (STC) – still called American Tape
1997 – American Tape joins IPG family – name changed to Intertape Polymer Group but American Tape brand is retained
2018 – American Tape turns 65!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Prevent Shipping Damage by Packing in Corrugated Cartons

The e-commerce supply chain, for all its sophistication, is a violent place if you are a carton that must get from point A to point B. You are handled by many people who may throw you around without much thought to your importance as a customer’s first impression. This carton on your customer’s doorstep is his or her first interaction with your company – so make it a good one. Ship your merchandise in a sturdy and well-packaged container – a corrugated one.
Corrugated cartons protect your products during shipment.
On the surface, both cardboard and corrugated cartons look similar.  But when it comes to protecting your product(s), there’s no comparison. Goods shipped in corrugated cartons are less likely to be damaged in shipment than those shipped in cardboard boxes.

Cardboard vs Corrugated – What’s the difference?

A carton made of cardboard typically is made of thick paper stock or heavy paper-pulp. This type of material used for cereal boxes or greeting cards. Although corrugated cartons are also made with cardboard, they are much stronger because they are made of three layers - one that includes an inside liner, another that’s an outside liner, and fluting with a ruffled shape, which runs in between the two. This construction gives these cartons much more strength.  In addition, corrugated cartons are:
  • ✓ Less likely to tear or break in transit
  • ✓ Lightweight, but with a higher strength-to-weight ratio
  • ✓ Better able to protect the contents
  • ✓ Cost-effective
  • ✓ Environmentally friendly
  • ✓ Better suited for heavier items
  • ✓ Able to provide some cushioning
  • ✓ Less likely to be damaged by wet conditions
Both cardboard and corrugated cartons are useful when used appropriately.  Cardboard is more useful for lightweight applications such as to-go containers board games. Corrugated, on the other hand, is the packaging material of choice for shipping boxes. It is strong, durable, provides cushioning and is easily recycled.

Take a Strong Box and Make It Stronger

Want to enhance the strength of a corrugated shipping box? Seal it with water-activated tape. Water-activated tape creates a permanent bond with a corrugated carton.  Once activated with water, the adhesive in this tape literally penetrates the carton material, forming a permanent bond. That means tampering with the box, specifically the seal, is easily detectable because it damages the carton. 
In addition, water-activated tape can be reinforced with polyester or fiberglass strands that make the closure (and the box) even stronger. 
Make sure everything you ship arrives in its best condition. Get tips about packaging and shipping from an eBook we’ve prepared for you. Click here to download Better Packages' “A Guide for Tape Dispensing Performance Solutions.”

Better Packages | Water-Activated Tape Dispensers and Tape

IPG offers a full line of Central® brand water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape. a complete line of Better Packages brand water-activated tape dispensers. In addition to providing products for packing stations, IPG helps their customers analyze and solve their packing station challenges.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for Improving Your Packing Station

Making the most of your packing station
Want to start the new calendar year with better throughput from your packing station? We assembled a panel of four packaging pros from Better Packages and IPG to share their expertise on making the most of a packaging station.

Michelle Adams, Business Development Manager Omni Channel Fulfillment
Jeff Deacon, Sr. Director, Global Market Development
Rob Hoffman, Senior Vertical Sales Manager
Marc Schaible, Business Development Director, Omnichannel Fulfillment

Here are their suggested New Year’s resolutions for making your 2018 packaging station more efficient, productive and safer.

New Year’s Resolution #1: I will take a good hard look at my packing station to make sure it’s set up right.

Advice from the experts:

✓ “The most important consideration in setting up a packaging station can be summed up in one word: Space. Is there enough space for the pack station?” advises Hoffman.
✓ “You need to ensure that the packer has a safe work environment with minimal risk of injury,” suggests Deacon. Adams adds: “One that safely maximizes throughput.”
✓ Adding to that thought, Schaible counsels” Set up your packing station with workflow in mind.”

New Year’s Resolution #2: I will set up my packing station to avoid the most common mistakes companies make.

Advice from the experts:

✓ “The biggest mistake people make when setting up a packing station is not taking into consideration the space that is required to set to set up a pack station properly,” notes Hoffman.
✓ “People not only make it too small; they make it too inflexible so it can’t grow with their needs,” says Schaible.
✓ “Don’t make the mistake of not accounting for growth in volume and carton size,” says Deacon.
✓ “I’d say the biggest mistakes people make are: a lack of efficient design layout; not having any or enough automation; failing to consider mobile packing station and, building on the others’ comments, failing to consider future growth,” adds Adams.

New Year’s Resolution #3: I will follow the 14 Commandments of efficient, effective and safe packaging station design.

Space Planning – Make sure there is adequate space for the station and the type of product that will be processed.

Power Needs – Ensure there is proper electric service at the pack station, preferably hardwired in conduit and metal outlet boxes.  “Extension cord is a no-no!” advises Hoffman.

Plans For Comfort – Two things make for a more comfortable (and productive) shift: a padded floor and a fan (since most shipping areas are not air conditioned).

Ergonomics For All – Realize the pack station needs to be set up to accommodate all associates.  Shorter associates should not have to strain or step up on something to gain access to boxes or packing materials that are stored on shelves. Conversely, a tall associate should not have to bend down to conduct his or her work.

Packing Station Customization – Determine the workflow, power and connectivity hook-up needs. Have a storage strategy and customize your packing station as needs change.

Work Flow Rules – Design the pack station with work flow in mind to keep the associates’ movement to a minimum.  They should not have to walk very far to pick up a product to be packed or to restock their packaging supplies.

Efficient Layout – Identify proper layout of storage for ease of use of packaging supplies like boxes, bags, envelopes, labels, protective packaging like air pillows and other essential supplies.

Critical Equipment – Identify essential equipment needs to improve automation like scanners, computers, scales, electric or hand-operated water-activated tape dispensers and void fill, such as air pillows.

Mechanical Assistance Availability – Consider the possibility of mechanical assistance like lifts and conveyors if there is a need to ship heavy/bulky packages.

Bottleneck Planning – Identify and plan for potential bottlenecks in the order fulfillment process.

Shipping Options – Provide secondary packaging options that match the products being shipped.  For example there should be cartons on hand for hard goods and polybags for goods like apparel.

Productivity Enhancement – Increase packer productivity by creating exact order process steps to reduce inefficiencies in workflow.

Regular Maintenance – Periodically schedule process reviews and safety training.

Growth Planning – Plan for future growth.

Better Packages | Water-Activated Tape Dispensers and Tape

Better Packages offers a complete line of water-activated tape dispensers. Its parent company, Intertape Polymer Group, produces a full line of Central® brand water-activated tape, including reinforced and non-reinforced tape. In addition to providing products for packing stations, the companies help their customers analyze and solve their packing station challenges.

Learn more about maximizing your packing station productivity by downloading this guide.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Challenge of Shipping Pharmaceuticals

Shipping pharmaceuticals brings with it a unique set of risks. Shipments must arrive on-time, intact and at the right temperature. When a non-medical shipment goes wrong, a customer can be disappointed. But when a pharmaceutical shipment doesn’t go as planned, it can affect the health of a patient. Yet with all the advances in pharmaceuticals, not much has changed in the last 30 years regarding the way pharmaceuticals are transported. Many are still moved from warehouse to retail stores by small regional carriers.

Lives may depend on packaging that guards the integrity of the drugs from the manufacturer to their destination. Package security is one of the most important keys to making that journey safely. Sealing the corrugated shipping carton with water-activated tape represents a critical packaging element. When combined with other critical packaging capabilities like containment and insulation, it gives shippers the peace of mind that their products will arrive safely and intact. It helps take care of two critical issues: Safeguarding outer packaging security, and maintaining the integrity of the package.

Packaging for Security

Keeping drugs secure during shipment is becoming a more and more complex issue.  “As the industry moves from ‘blockbuster’ products to personalized medicine, especially customized treatments for patients with rare diseases, expensive medications with low volume and high value thefts will become the shipping norm. These shipments present extreme challenges in their intrinsic value,” points out Sue Lee, former global technical portfolio manager for World Courier.  

Pharmaceutical shipments demand secure tertiary packaging to make sure they arrive in-tact. Using water-activated tape, also known as gummed paper tape, provides a layer of security evidence that informs the recipient of possible tampering in transit. Once applied, gummed paper tape bonds to corrugated cartons, creating a tamper-proof seal. A carton sealed with water-activated tape can’t be opened without leaving a broken seal.

Maintaining the Seal

Shipping pharmaceutical drug products­ can involve long, complex routes. Guarding against packaging breakdowns along the way is crucial, especially since many of these high-value drugs are shipped through local couriers that handle a variety of small packages. 

An inadequate carton seal is one of the most common causes of damaged shipments. Weight, handling and temperature conditions can cause regular plastic packing tape to separate and threaten the integrity of the packaging during transport. Water-activated tape gives pharma shippers the advantage of a strong and securely sealed carton. Reinforced water-activated tape also offers the security of a layer of fiberglass that’s embedded within for additional strength.

Want Carton Security? Request a Free Tape Sample

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Last-Minute Holiday Shopping and Shipping Tips

There’s still time to get out those business and personal gifts, but deadlines are looming. To make sure you can still delight your recipients, make sure you pack carefully and ship on time.
shutterstock_last minute-1.jpg
Here are a few tips for last-minute gift-givers:
Shop Where They Cater to Procrastinators:  For those of us who put things off until the last minute, there is help. 
  • ✓ Amazon Prime Members receive receive free, 2-day shipping year-round, including right before the holidays. For those who aren’t members, it's not too late.  You can you sign up for a free one-month trial. That means, as long as you order by December 22, you’re in good shape.
  • ✓ Apple offers free, 2-day shipping on all their products. Just make sure you place your order by the end of the work day on December 22 if you want it there by the 24th.
  • ✓ Bed Bath & Beyond’s online cutoff for standard shipping (48 contiguous states) is December 19. Expedited shipping by 12/21 and express by 12/22. Shipping price varies.
  • ✓ Best Buy offers free, 2-day shipping during the holiday season. Order dates differ among product categories.
  • ✓ Macy’s will deliver free with orders over $99. Order by 12/22 and your items will get there by Christmas.
  • ✓ Target is offering free shipping during the holidays and will deliver by 12/25 if you order by December 20.
You’ll find a list of other retailers who cater to the last-minute shoppers in an article in the magazine Real Simple.
Know the Deadlines for Shipping:  Here are key shipping dates at major shipping carriers:
FedEx Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 15 – Deadline for FedEx Ground shipments
Dec. 18 – Deadline for FedEx Home Delivery shipments
Dec. 19 – Deadline for FedEx Express Saver shipments
Dec. 20 – Deadline for FedEx 2-Day and 2-Day A.M. shipments
Dec. 21 – Deadline for FedEx Standard Overnight, Priority Overnight, First  Overnight shipments
Dec. 25 -  Deadline for all FedEx SameDay shipments

UPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 18 – Deadline for UPS 3-Day Select shipments (delivered Dec. 22)
Dec. 20 – Deadline for UPS 2nd Day Air shipments (delivered Dec. 22)
Dec. 22 – Deadline for UPS Next Day Air shipments (delivered Dec. 23)
Dec. 24 & 25 – No pickup or delivery services.  (UPS Express Critical services available)

USPS Christmas Shipping Deadlines (within the U.S.)
Dec. 15 – Deadline for Standard Parcel Post shipments
Dec. 20 – Deadline for First Class Mail and Priority shipments
Dec. 23 – Deadline for Priority Express Mail shipments

Pack it Right. Gifts that are packed incorrectly risk being damaged in shipment or waylaid during transit.  FedEx alone expects to ship over 22 million packages, so you don’t want your package to get lost in the shuffle. 
The biggest packing mistakes people make are:
  •  Not using a new box. Using an old box could mean it won’t be strong enough to withstand the trip.  And if the box still has old shipping labels or bar codes on it, shipping machines might have trouble sending it to the right destination.
  •  Not padding the contents well with air pillows to cushion the journey. The rule of thumb is if a package isn’t bulging slightly when you push it down, it’s not packed securely enough.
  •  Not sealing the package right. Packages sealed with the wrong tape could open during transit. Use water-activated tape to seal packages and apply it in an H-pattern. This will assure you that the package will stay sealed during shipping.
Check out these additional last-minute shopping and shipping tips from NBC News.
Surprise and delight those on your gift list with a present that arrives on-time and looking special by shopping, packaging and shipping with the journey in mind. And Happy Holiday from all of us at Better Packages and the Intertape Polymer Group.