In our first practical guide to packaging, we discussed the different choices available in terms of outer packaging and how to develop a shipping strategy that will ensure your packages are delivered in excellent condition and at minimal cost.
Today, I want to touch on inventory management and packing optimization.
This topic may sound more or less useful. Yet, in today’s marketing, offering shorter delivery times is becoming more and more vital. Some merchants even offer 1-hour delivery now! If you want to succeed in this market, you need to be ready to deliver quickly at all times, and that involves optimizing your time management, and consequently, your packing procedures.
Your packaging options must be readily available, easy to use, and adapted to your needs.
1. MANAGING YOUR INVENTORY OF PACKING MATERIAL
As previously discussed, cardboard boxes are a must for any shipping department for various reasons: they are easy to stock, attractive, customizable, can be recycled and reused, etc.
However, if the products you sell vary in size, shape, and weight, you will have to stock different box formats, and that can become quite the headache.
It’s important you have a sufficient number of boxes on hand in order to ship all your products, otherwise you may find yourself shipping a product in way too big of a box, which – as you well know now – could increase your shipping costs exponentially.
Since your inventory management decisions have an impact on your numbers…
- consider the type of products you sell the most and your customers’ buying patterns,
- the format of the product(s),
- and figure out which box format you need the most.
Plan ahead so that when you have promotions or specials, or at busier times of the year, such as the holidays, Black Friday, or Back to School, you have more than enough boxes to ship any orders you may receive.
You may think this isn’t such a big deal, but not having stocked enough packing material will slow down your shipping times, and you surely won’t want to waste any more time going out to purchase a couple of boxes – at a much higher cost than if you had bought a large quantity in advance from a supplier such as Uline.
2. OPTIMIZING THE PACKING MATERIAL INVENTORY MANAGEMENT
Two possible scenarios here:
- Either all your products are the same – for example, you only sell glasses, cell phone cases, or shoes.
- Or your products come in different sizes, volume, and weight.
FIND THE BOX SIZE THAT SUITS ALL YOUR PRODUCTS EVEN IF THERE ARE SMALL VARIATIONS IN SIZE AND WEIGHT.
Remember: above a certain size, costs will vary based on volume.
PLAN FOR DIFFERENT BOX SIZES TO PACK ALL TYPES OF ORDERS.
If you have a variety of products but you can break them down in three sizes (small, medium, and large), then plan to have three box sizes.
However, if your products really come in all sorts of sizes, you will need a large variety of packing material – and probably also good advice and logistical support. Where?
If you have staff dedicated to packing, it is really important that they be well trained to understand how efficient and optimal packing can have a positive financial impact on your business. At the very least, get them to read our three articles on packaging :)
3. OPTIMIZING YOUR SHIPPING COSTS BY SELLING BUNDLES
If you sell products that your customers tend to buy in multiple quantities (not refrigerators!), you could further improve your shipping costs by selling bundles. This would also help reduce the amount of shipping boxes you stock, therefore saving more money and space.
Products such as cosmetics are perfect for bundling because customers who appreciate your products will continue buying from you. So entice your loyal customers with special offers if they buy more than one product at once. Don’t worry, the money will come back to you through savings on packing and shipping costs.
Other businesses, such as northern-coffee.ca, one of Buster Fetcher’s customers, encourages its loyal customers living in the same area to generate collective orders. By shipping larger quantities of coffee in a single order, it’s a win-win situation for the customers and the merchant: the customers pay a bulk price, and the merchant saves on shipping. That is literally what we mean by optimization.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF PACKAGING
Last but not least, in 2019 it is indispensable to think of the environmental impact of packaging. Truth is, when you factor in environmental concerns in your strategy, the only thing you risk is… getting more customers and saving money! Protecting the planet is a plus, not a risk.
According to Éco Entreprises Québec, one in two Quebecers claims to be genuinely interested in eco-friendly packaging with the following characteristics: security, transportation, protection, conservation, resistance to breakage, storage and consumer experience.
Customers are increasingly concerned with the environment, and this shift is observed in all business sectors. This is a good thing, and if your customers notice that you too are concerned, it will only boost their trust in your company. Don’t hesitate to talk about your efforts on your social media and websites. If you plan on using long-lasting, reusable, recyclable and minimal packaging, you will save in the long run, because you will use less and better quality packaging.
Curious to see examples of what some Quebec businesses are doing? Check out our article on packaging as a powerful marketing tool and this case study from Éco Entreprises Québec explaining how Costco drastically improved the environmental footprint of one of its packagings.
A few strategies to implement:
- Avoid excessive packaging
- Use materials that are fully or at least in part recyclable
- Avoid using different materials when packing; this only complicates recycling
- Aim to reduce your carbon footprint (this is where selling bundles is really interesting)
- Tell your customers that your packaging is reusable or recyclable and how to proceed
Still unsure about the importance of choosing the right packaging and optimizing your packing material inventory? In today’s marketing-driven world where customers expect to receive their orders quickly and yet are increasingly environmentally conscious, you must give some thought to your packaging.
To read all our articles on packaging, click on the following links:
For more advice on shipping and the possibilities of refund for late deliveries, contact us!