Whether you're gifting to someone across the miles, sending a product to a valued customer or returning something to the seller for an exchange or refund, the quality of your packaging will be crucial. If contents are to arrive in the recipient's hands in the same condition they departed the sender's, they must be protected adequately.

In the case of small retail businesses, there are reputations at stake; and for buyers, money could be lost if products are sent back damaged. With this in mind, here are a few things it could be very worthwhile to consider when preparing your parcel for sending either within the UK or far flung destinations worldwide.

Size definitely matters


One of the most common causes of items being damaged in transit is the sender choosing poorly sized boxes. Some will go much bigger than necessary to ensure their items have enough room, while others will aim for the tightest fit possible in attempts to minimise postage costs. While there may be some logic in there somewhere, put simply, both approaches could be counterproductive, so finding a balance is key.

You should aim for a box which allows just enough room to cushion the contents properly and minimise movement using bubble wrap or shredded tissue paper, for example. This way, impact will be absorbed by the packaging, leaving the items inside perfectly secure.

Out with the old, in with the new?


Re-using boxes isn't a bad thing at all – in fact we promote it as part of our advice to cutting postage and packaging costs and going green with your packaging but there are things of which to be careful to ensure your item’s journey is smooth and direct.

Old labels, for example, can cause confusion for delivery teams, so if any previous postal markings are still visible, be sure to cover them fully before the box is sent out again.

Also, you should think about the condition of the packaging. When a box has been used multiple times, the level of protection will diminish. Take some time to check all the corners and edges and reinforce any that are looking (or feeling) tired and worn. A good, strong parcel tape maybe the best option here.

All (odd) shapes and sizes


Unfortunately, not everything that's bought and sold online is cuboid; some items take a little more thought and effort to pack properly and safely. If you're sending bare metals, for example, it'll be important to cover any sharp or protruding points. Generously sized pieces of thick, corrugated cardboard are really handy here, and should stop the packaging's protection being compromised when taped in the appropriate places. The same goes for wooden picture frames or anything else that could break through the materials covering it.

Seal the deal


The final part of making sure the contents of your package are safe and secure during transit is sealing it properly, so without a doubt, the key here is a good tape. While the thought of a traditional parcel may evoke images of neatly wrapped boxes held together with string or ribbon, tying the box closed is a bad idea. For one, these materials won't be nearly as strong as their adhesive counterparts. They could come open more easily and items fall out (or in!), and could also cause problems in sorting offices, as loose string can easily get caught up in machinery.

Instead, use clear or brown parcel tape which is around two inches, or 50mm, in width. Seal along all the openings of the box or container and all the way around any seams. This will ensure every opening is properly secured until the recipient is ready to open their parcel.

Don’t use black outer wrapping! This is important, as our automated parcel sortation systems can’t process it; in fact, using it for internationally bound destinations will result in your parcel being automatically returned to you and transit time delays on UK deliveries.