The Box Matters, It Really Does!

Huge pile of cardboard boxes, forming a wall, ideal for backgrouAs an entrepreneur, innovator or product designer, you spend a significant amount of time making sure the design and manufacture of your end product will entice consumers into buying and make you a profit in the process. But do you ever think about the one thing that protects your precious product when it’s sitting in the manufacturing plant, traveling overseas, waiting for purchase in your US warehouse or sitting on the USPS, FedEx or UPS truck en route to your customer?

The box matters, it really does!

Why? Because thinking about the box up front not only protects your product, it will also save you money in multiple ways. So no matter whether it is the master carton (exterior box) or the interior carton, think about these four items when discussing boxes with your manufacturer, in particular overseas manufacturers who may not be as concerned with these box features as you need them to be.

Carton Quality: Cardboard quality various widely, and cheap cardboard abounds in overseas manufacturing plants. Insist upon the right cardboard strength for your master and interior cartons so that they can handle what they are supposed to hold. Think about the number of items that will go in the box as well as the overall weight of those items to ensure the cardboard is strong enough. Otherwise you could have boxes splitting open or breaking apart while in transit or on the shelf. In addition, US shipping requirements are generally more stringent so consider that fact when discussing cardboard quality with your manufacturer. Bottom line, if you want to use the same master or interior cartons that arrive at your domestic warehouse to ship your products to US destinations, they must be high quality. Otherwise you will have to pay for new stronger cartons, not to mention the labor involved in unpacking and repacking them.

Carton Shape and Size: If you plan is to use your master cartons to store your products in your warehouse, then you need to think about what carton size and shape will maximize your pallet usage. This is especially important if you are outsourcing your warehouse and fulfillment needs. You’ll want to fit as many master cartons per pallet as you can, so that you don’t waste precious square footage on the dead space between boxes that don’t fit neatly on the pallet. Another important thing to consider for carton size is how many individual units you want packed in an interior carton and how many interior cartons you want packed in a master carton.

Carton Content Specifications: Carton packing takes planning in order to maximize your shipping and warehouse dollar. You want to divide your inventory into shippable groups. The most cost efficient strategy is to include one SKU per master carton because mixed SKU cartons require more work when they arrive at your domestic warehouse. Another good strategy is to have the manufacturer pack individual units in retail packaging because items shipped loosely in a master carton will require a “pick and pack” arrangement at your warehouse prior to domestic shipping.

Carton Labeling: Lastly, you want to make sure that the manufacturer labels each master carton with key identifiers about the items it contains. This should include the SKU number or numbers; the quantity of interior cartons included, and the total quantity of individual units included. This will assist your warehouse staff when unloading your merchandise, as well as help them identify any missing cartons or individual units.

Next week in Just out of the Box, we will talk about how to ensure that your manufacturer uses the cartons you’ve requested.