Actually, image this. You're buying a gift online for a friend. 5-7 business days later you arrive home expecting to find a package... It's gone! You go into your house and find another member of your house actively and unashamedly test driving the contents of the package. Next to them is the box that the item came in. It's the package that the manufacturer packaged the item in... NOT a proper shipping box. What went wrong? Turns out that the package that the manufacturer wrapped the product in was just too enticing. It had full hi resolution images, great font treatments, and age appropriateness. Maybe if the package was packed in a way so as to conceal the package's contents... well, maybe this wouldn't have happened.
In this list, you will find principles that should be adhered to in order to maximize a great user experience as it pertains to interaction with shipped items.
|Principles / Guidelines|
|1||Ship grouped items together||When a recipient orders a product, they expect the product to arrive all at once. When there are multiple pieces to one product and the various pieces must be split up into different shipping packages, they should all be shipped together. This will maximize the likelihood that they will be received by the recipient at the same time.|
|2||Grouped items should be labeled as such||Inform the recipient when a package is part of a set of packages being shipped together. One way to do this is through labeling (EXAMPLE: "Item 2 of a set of 4" or "Item 1, 10 in group")|
|3||Use new or explain re-use of packaging||Packaging is yet another "first impression" that a recipient gets from a company. If the product arrives in clean or new packaging then there is less of a likelihood that the package will draw any unwanted negative attention. If the package has already been used for previous shipments, it might be a good idea to include a package label that explains the reason for shipping in an older box (maybe your company is environmentally conscious). The underlying reason for explained re-use is that the company's credibility may be impacted by a shabby or rugged packaging job.|
|4||Large boxes should have handles||When shipping a product that needs a large box, remember that people need to be able to manage the boxes location. Users will likely benefit from boxes that have handles when the box is large. This is especially important when the box will need to be moved from one location to another. If the box is large enough, or heavy enough that there must be two or more people to move it, consider including an appropriate number of handles on the box. To further improve this experience for the recipient, include labeling that provides easiest handling technique.|
|5||Follow packaging capacity||Do not exceed the weight specification of the shipment container. If shipping is older package, it's a good rule of thumb to assume that the capacity has been diminished since the packaging material was new. Adjust your expectations of the capacity accordingly. This will help ensure that the packaging withstands the journey to the recipient.|
|6||Use clear labeling||Box labeling should be easy to see and find. The text or content color should be easily distinguishable against the background color (EXAMPLE: Black text on white background). If the text or content color is to similar to the color of the background, there is a chance that it will blend in to the background and be missed. It is common practice to use black text or content on a brown box, however most practiced isn't always best practice. There may be some room for innovation in this realm.|
|7||Address, postage, and/or packing list should be clearly placed and highly visible||Address, return address, postage, and/or packing lists should all be on one side of the package to streamline the recipients information gathering process. It is best practice to include a packing list inside all packages. It is a common practice to additionally include a packing list on the outside of the package as well, however this isn't always necessary (especially in the case of gift package).|
|8||Special handling should be clear||Clearly mark on the outside of the package if the item is fragile, liquid, perishable, if the product needs to remain upright, or any other attribute that may be deemed important to the shipping process, or the receipt of the product.|
|9||Use the right package for the job||Boxes are the most commonly used and suitable way to pack your shipment because of the range of sizes, shapes, materials and accessories to strengthen and secure them. It is however important to consider other solutions when warranted. For example, wood containers are especially appropriate for shipping heavier items and are ready for machine handling. Alternatively, heavy-duty double-layered cardboard is a suitable and cheaper alternative to wood boxes or standard boxes. What ever the package method used, it's important that the right packaging be used in order to meet the recipients receiving needs. Depending on the product being shipped, consider communicating with the recipient to better ensure the package will be correct.|
|10||Inner box padding space should be appropriate||During a packages journey from your location to the recipients location, it is likely that the product within the package will have to survive through a number of jars, jiggles, slides, bumps, drops, throws, hand-offs, tip-overs, and various other potential quality threatening events. The space between the product and the box should be appropriate. Content should not be able to directly touch the inside of the shipping box. Movement inside the box should be minimal. Under-filled boxes run the risk of collapse, while over-loaded boxes face bursting. If either of these occur, the shipment will have failed to meet the recipients expectation.|
|11||Always wrap the contents of a package||When it comes to in-box product safety, you get what you put into it (pun intended). If you choose to trust un-tested, low quality packing materials, there is a possibility that the item in the box may not be safe for this rigorous journey. It's best practice to individually wrap each item within a package. Usage of high quality, tested cushioning and wrapping materials will help ensure that the recipients product arrives in a state that fully meets their minimum expectations.|
|12||Box should be fully sealed.||Extra tape may be necessary to ensure that the package does not become unsealed during shipment. Usage of wire, string, or bands may cause problems with machinery used in the shipping process, so it is a good idea to avoid these methods for sealing packages when possible.|
Here are some of the references used to put this list together.
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