Everything You Need to Know About Shipping Packaging and Mail Forwarding Services
September 20, 2020 · 16 min read
Packaging is used to protect products and other goods that are sent through the mail. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as receiving a package that you were very excited to receive, only to find that the products inside are significantly damaged because of poor packaging.
If you’re a seller, brand, retailer, or someone who receives packages regularly, read on to learn more about how postal packaging affects the quality of products shipped and how mail forwarding services like Forward.me strive to keep your products in excellent condition when in transit.
Types of Packaging Used Today
There are quite a few different types of packaging out there, all of which have their own unique purposes and use cases.
Postal packaging (which can include terms such as shipping boxes or shipping packaging) are a type of packaging that usually involves a cardboard box or thick plastic envelop that online sellers will use to ship items via the mail system.
Factory packaging (also known as manufacturer packaging) is a type of packaging that is usually provided by the supplier or manufacturer at the factory where the product was produced. Before products arrive to a retailer or third-party company, they are prepackaged.
Refurbished, renewed, or used products may arrive to mail forwarding warehouses in packaging that the seller of the product. Before products arrive at a retailer or third-party company, they are sometimes prepackaged by the item’s seller or the business that renewed the item.
More often than not, this type of packaging is a basic box that lacks any labels or markings but may feature the refurbishing business’s logo. This type of packaging is nice because the seller will usually neatly pack the item to keep it safe, but will not usually be packaged the same way that the manufacturer would package it.
Shoe boxes are a popular type of packaging to use to pack shoes for shipping. It’s a rather simple cardboard box, but tends to be thicker than a postal box and will contain additional paper or foam packing for safety. Shoe boxes also come with a convenient lid.
When using a mail forwarding service like Forward.me, your product’s shoe box will be left alone and included in the repackaging process. If this isn’t ideal, you can leave a note with us to request that the shoe box be removed. Many users will opt for this option because shoe boxes tend to be quite heavy and can rack up shipping costs, especially if the main product that you sell comes in a shoe box. What’s the point of paying for something you don’t really need? After removing the shoe boxes, we will then place the shoes in two individual bags and repackage and pack them.
Some businesses like Amazon will offer special packaging options (either paid or free) where your item will be package in gift-wrapping paper or in a special aesthetically-pleasing box. This is very convenient if you plan on ordering products for the holidays or other special event and don’t want to deal with having to decorate it yourself.
It’s important to keep in mind that Forward.me open and remove gift-wrapped products while going through the process of repacking. Because of this, you should avoid spending a lot of money on gift wrapping services if you plan on using a mail forwarding service. This is done to ensure that the item can be verified and inspected.
What Type of Packaging Will a Mail Forwarding Service Remove?
Especially, Forward.me will remove quite a few different types of packaging.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that a new tablet is being shipped from a factory to your Forward.me address. When the Forward.me receives the item, it’s clear that the factory that produced the tablet packed it into a factory box, complete with brand labels and a plastic security covering.
The brand’s store receives the item. Before shipping it off to the mail forwarding services, the store will put the factory-packaged box into a postal cardboard box and send it off to the Forward.me's warehouse. Upon receiving the item, the warehouse will remove and discard the postal packaging and the item will then be repackaged.
Typically, Forward.me will examine the item to ensure that it is the correct item and in good shape. Then, the tablet will be packed (in its original factory packaging, which is not removed at any point) in a new postal box with additional padding to ensure that it is well-packed. From there, the tablet is sent to your delivery address.
So why is this done? Isn’t this wasteful? Keep in mind that the original postal packaging will always be recycled. Just as well, this process is mandatory because Forward.me will need to to check to make sure that there are no illegal items in the packaging and that the correct product listed in the service order is the one that arrived at the facility. This is especially necessary for international packaging. This is usually done for all types of products, not just expensive mobile devices and electronics.
Can Members Keep Their Postal Boxes?
Many members want their package to be as light as possible to save money, but others want to receive their product in its original postal packaging. If the proper request is made to Forward.me, we will send the product in the original store’s postal box. However, we will still open it to inspect the item-- we just won’t recycle it and repackage it afterward.
Can Factory Packaging Be Removed?
The factory or manufacturer packaging is never opened without explicit permission from the seller. Some sellers may be more interested in sending lightweight packages-- and in this case, the factory packaging can be removed. We don’t usually recommend this practice as the product needs as much protection as it can get, and factory packaging is its first line of defense from bumps, scrapes, and other sources of damage during transit. Just as well, many products that are shipped without their original packaging may not be insured.
The Collectible Value of Packaging
We mentioned earlier that Forward.me won’t touch manufacturer packaging, but will repackage the postal packaging that the product was received in.
It’s worth noting that not all packages are the same, especially when it comes to used items. Sellers from places like eBay will often send products without the original factory packaging, either because the packaging no longer exists or the packaging was too damaged.
Some sellers will send products is damaged or disintegrating old factory packaging. In this case, we will usually remove the factory packaging and repack all of the products in the box as carefully as possible. However, there are some scenarios where factory packaging, even if its worst condition, needs to arrive to the customer because it is an authentic collectible item. If a seller needs that factory packaging to get to the customer no matter what, they can simply leave a note for dispatch and Forward.me will leave it be.
If you want to send a collectible item that sounds similar to this, make sure you make it very clear to Forward.me that the packaging is to be left alone. If not, it will probably be thrown away and repackaged.
Why Are Shipping Boxes Often Switched at Warehouse?
Like we mentioned before, switching out postal boxes may seem very wasteful. However, there are a number of reasons why this is done.
The biggest reason involves international shipping. If a seller uses a thin or weak box to ship a product domestically, it may be perfectly fine. However, when it comes time to pass customs and be shipped across the globe, that packaging will probably not make the trip. International shipping involves loading and unloading packages through different carriers many times. Because of this, thicker and more secure boxes must be used.
Another reason why we tend to repackage is that stores that ship products often choose boxes that aren’t right for the size of the item. This is understandable, as the perfect-sized box may not always be readily available when it comes to shipping the product off. If this happens, we’ll repackage and repack products in more appropriately-sized shipping boxes before sending them to your delivery address.
In most cases, we will repack all of the packages we receive. The main exceptions include shipments that have a note to not repackage them and large items that are already packed properly.
Basic Standard Packaging
So what exactly goes into the “perfect” packaging that Forward.me uses to repackage goods before shipping them to your delivery address?
We have a few key points that we try to adhere to when repackaging, though they can vary depending on the product.
To start, a box is select that is properly sized for your product. Then, the product (which is removed from the original postal packaging) is wrapped and sealed in a plastic bag.
From there, air-filled plastic bags are packed around the product inside of the new box. Sometimes, bubble wrap will be used for particularly fragile items or items that are going to be shipped internationally.
Then, the product is packed up and security tape is used to tightly pack it. If a seller wants added security, they can request a “void if open” label to be placed on the box in the event that any of the tape is broken before arriving at the customer. Sometimes we will pack things (namely clothes and other fabric-based products) into plastic postal bags.
Weight Changes and Costs
Of course when a product is repackaged, its weight changes. After the repackaging process is complete, we will then weigh the package. Once the weight is logged, we will invoice the seller for the new cost of shipping.
Depending on what changes between the package’s arrival at our warehouse and what steps were taken to properly package it, the weight can be higher or lower than it was initially.
For example, a single electronic device is more likely to arrive heavier than it was when it was shipped, as Forward.me will add extra security padding to the shipping box. When it comes to combined shipments, however, the weight will likely decrease. This is because multi-item shipments will arrive with a little too much padding or too large boxes, and Forward.me will repackage them appropriately.
A seller or customer’s best bet is to assume that the package will increase in weight and should prepare to pay for this appropriately.
Do Mail Forwarding Services Increase Package Weight on Purpose to Make More Money?
It’s pretty easy to see why sellers would think this, but it really isn’t the case. Mail forwarding services make their profits off of their repackaging and mailing services-- not for postage. In fact, most mail forwarding companies will try to reduce the weight of a parcel to provide a better service to their customers. Our main priority will always be a successful delivery of a product in one piece.
If there is ever a situation where you believe your shipment increase in weight without proper justification, there are steps you can take to ensure you are compensated.
Members who receive their product should video record themselves opening the shipping box upon receiving the item. This way, the mail forwarding service can see whether or not excessive packaging was used and will compensate accordingly. Without doing this, mail forwarding companies can’t really tell whether or not the product was excessively packaged.
In most cases, sellers or customers who are not used to shipping (especially international goods) may just not know what goes into the shipping process. Shipping products through the mail can be pricey-- it’s just the nature of the industry.
Sending a Parcel in a Postal Bag
Postal bags can be a good shipping option for some sellers. Regularly, we will pack our member’s packages in cardboard shipping boxes.
This tends to be the most secure and simple way to pack products for shipment. However, a shipping bag can be used for some types of products.
Postal bags are usually made of a thick polyethylene, which is thick enough to protect certain softer products while also boasting the additional benefit of being lightweight and cheaper to ship. Products that are usually sent in postal bags include clothing, blankets, stuffed animals, and other soft goods.
Sometimes sellers and customers will request postal bags for different products, and most of the time we will agree to ship their items this way. However, this isn’t recommended for most products. While postal bags can keep soft goods relatively safe during transit, harder or more fragile items can be easily damaged if they are put in a postal bag.
Your best bet would be to trust our trained and experienced packers to repackage your product appropriately. Most mail forwarding companies will also outright refuse to repackage electronics, makeup products, and leather products in a postal bag.
Special Items and Fragile Products
Not all products are equally durable. There are quite a few different kinds of goods that require special attention during the packaging process.
Jackets and bags are two common products that usually require special attention. When jackets are shipped to Forward.me's warehouse, the coat hangers and hard shoulder pads are usually removed because of the risk they pose to ripping fabric during transit. We will then pack our jackets the same way we pack other clothing and blankets-- neatly folded and as small as possible. Sellers that want their jackets to arrive very unwrinkled will need to invest in a much larger postal box. Again, special requests are always welcomed.
When it comes to purses or bags, they usually arrive from the seller filled with tissue paper to prevent them from losing their shape or getting wrinkly. Typically, mail forwarding companies will not remove this paper and will consider it part of the factory packaging. If you would like Forward.me to remove this packaging, always make a request ahead of time.
Just keep in mind that most insurance will not cover bag creases or damage if the seller or customer requests to have this filler paper removed. This also applies to hangers and should pads that are requested to be kept in packaging for transit.
Fragile items are another group of items that are not very durable. In fact, many mail forwarding services will not recommend shipping such goods in general, and at the very least must be shipped in special packaging. Such items include dishes, pottery, glass products, and medical or health devices. If you’re a member who wishes to order this type of product, you may be better off physically going to the store to get it. By doing this, you can physically see the product you want to buy and know that it is not damaged before it ends up in your hands.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes fragile items must be ordered online and delivered. Sellers must take extreme precautions when doing this. Most insurance will not cover these items, or the insurance available will be very expensive. At an absolutely minimal, fragile items must be shipped with additional packaging and a request should be made for extensive pre-packaging through Forward.me. The weight of your package will definitely increase, but so will the likelihood of it arriving to your delivery address in one piece.
In the end, sellers and members should just use common sense when shipping fragile items. They should never be sent in multiple sets or with other heavy or sharp objects.
Special Requests for Packaging
Special requests are far from rare, and they’re generally encouraged by Forward.me -- If there’s something you want, you should ask for it, and Forward.me will most likely comply!
For example, let’s say you are a seller who manufactures electronic toys. Because some parts of these toys are a bit fragile, you want to request that Forward.me wraps the smartphone with an additional layer of bubble wrap. Because these toys are collector’s items, you also want a “void if opened” sticker to be placed on the packaging in addition to security tape. This can all be mentioned in the notes you leave with Forward.me.
If you want to use this method, make sure that your notes are left in English language for added security and clarity.
Repackaging can be a complex task that involves numerous packers for just one package. This is done to ensure that every special request and need of the member is fulfilled and that the package arrives exactly how it should be. But because many people are involved, it’s important to make sure that you leave your comments with dispatch to ensure that your needs are met.
Additional Notes to Remember
Keep in mind that at any point during the repackaging process, Forward.me cannot add additional items to your package. Just as well, we cannot remove products from the parcel in the event that the package is too heavy or expensive for your liking.
It’s also worth noting that special packaging requests will almost always cost an additional fee, in addition to adding more costly weight to your product. However, the result is almost always worth the investment!
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