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How to pack goods for transit

by Adam Gilbourne

How to Pack Goods for Transit

No one likes getting a package in the mail to find the goods inside damaged or, worse, broken. When this happens the temptation is always to blame the postage services (everyone likes blaming their postie) but, no matter how bad the postal service is, just as often the damage will be caused by a poor packaging.

It’s worth taking the time to get the packaging right in order to make your customers happy and, ultimately, save your business money. Customers will demand refunds or replacements for broken or damaged goods, and when that happens you’ve got a choice of either sending out a new copy of the product, or risking the customer’s wrath (and subsequent bad reviews damaging your businesses’ reputation).

The good news is that a well-packed product will be able to survive almost any postal service across the world. There are some simple procedures to follow to ensure that your customer receives what they paid for safely.

The golden rule is: whatever you are packing should be able to withstand a drop of one metre, regardless of if it’s a rigid block of iron or the most delicate of glass goods. If the object breaks under this test, then you should consider improving your packing standards.

The second golden rule is: invest in good quality boxes. It can be tempting to use light, cheap cardboard boxes, but this would be a mistake. Light boxes are cheaper to buy and weigh less (and so are less expensive to send), but don’t offer anywhere near the same protection for their contents. It’s not just shock resistance, either. Thin, cheap cardboard boxes also offer less resistance to water and, as they get damp, can either develop mold, or fall apart mid-transit. We recommend that you use desiccants inside boxes that will be in transit for any significant period of time, regardless of the quality of the carton itself, and that you let products rest in a dry room with air conditioning before packing them – especially if they’re heading to humid areas like the tropics.

For fragile goods

How to Pack Goods for Transit

Fragile goods are, surprisingly, relatively easy to pack, because the risks they face in transit are obvious. Glass and porcelain doesn’t handle shock well, so all you need to do is give it a nice, soft cushion to sleep on for the trip.

  • First up, wrap each object that is to be sent securely in tissue paper or newspaper.
  • Place these wrapped items in an inner container.
  • In a larger, outer container, fill evenly with cushioning material, such as bubble wrap and foam. Place the inner container snugly within this. It should be a tight enough fit that the inner container won’t shake around.
  • Use reinforced tape to close the box.


Perishables can be difficult to send. Fruit and the like can be crushed and damaged from impact, just like glass, and equally they are susceptible to mold and rot. So packaging them requires a unique approach.

  • Place items in paper mache trays, which are resilient to a multitude of different sources of damage to perishables.
  • Next, put those trays in a heavy cardboard container that is lined with absorbent slabs (to protect them from moisture).
  • Seal the box using reinforced tape.
  • Write “PERISHABLE” on the top and on one side in large, clear, legible characters so that the package handlers know to treat with care.

Crushable items

How to Pack Goods for Transit

Imagine buying a poster, art print, photo, or book and opening it to find the material bent, frayed, dog-eared or ripped? There are a couple of things that you can do in packing these objects so your customers don’t have that experience.

  • If the object has a frame (or cover, as in a book), then protect the front and back of it with a rigid material that is larger than the actual frame.
  • Between the frame and rigid material, stuff in bubble wrap or similar to reduce the pressure that the material will have on the object.
  • Pack the object in the heaviest cardboard outer container you can find.
  • Seal the box using reinforced tape.

Sharp items

How to Pack Goods for Transit

It goes without saying that these objects, if not packed properly, can be very dangerous to those who handle the package in transit and also to those who are unpacking the goods. This means that you need to take extra precautions when packing, not just to protect the object but also those who are handling it.

  • Tightly wrap the object in thick newspaper, and secure in place with tape. Make sure the newspaper extends well past the tip of the blade, too, in case it does move in transit.
  • Place the item in a corrugated outer container, and surround the item with cushioning material to hold it in place.
  • Seal the box with reinforced tape.

One final point to note

Cartons that are opened during transportation are more at risk of damage. One of the most effective ways to minimise the chance of the carton being opened is to apply nylon bands around it.

Adam Gilbourne is the founder of Easy Imex Ltd and helps importers to source product & manage their supply chain in China. He writes advice for importers on the Easy Imex blog. He lives full time in Shanghai, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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