Packaging Best Practices

The experience your customer receives when they order product from you should be flawless.

Packaging Best Practices

Best Commercial Packaging Practices

Best Practices for Packaging Applications You can follow some best practices while packaging applications on virtual machines used for the packaging process. Ensure that you have local administrator rights for packaging. Perform only one packaging process in each virtual machine. Some of the best practices for utility packaging would be: To always seal your package at all edges with proper water-resistant and pressure-resistant tape. To package in a way that focuses on the safety of the product rather than the unboxing experience. Best of all, your customers will realize you’re actually listening. A solid understanding of your products, and your customers, is all you’ll need to develop your best packaging practices. For all your shipping supplies and packaging materials needs, we’re The Packaging Company, your e-commerce partner.

We understand that you can’t always review every shipment before the product arrives at a warehouse, either because it is shipped direct from the manufacturer, or you simply don’t have the resources to inspect every shipment.

That is why we have developed our Packaging Best Practices guide, as a tool that you can use to establish consistent packaging standards. This should enable a flawless experience for your customers, and ultimately have a positive impact on your bottom line.

By following these best practices, you will minimize cost and prevent delays, errors and damages.

You and your suppliers will benefit by following these guidelines. Failure to follow carton weight, size, or corrugated requirements may result in lost or damaged merchandise, delays, or additional charges (incurred as a Work Order, or in additional handling fees).

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V3 Section

Base Product

Formerly Unit Packaging
Packaging for your base products has to meet some standard guidelines.

There are other important considerations for your packaging that will help with storage, disposal, and shipping. While they are not required for meeting receiving and shipping guidelines they do improve the overall customer experience and will save you time and unnecessary spend in the future. Remember: all base products must be labeled based on the guidelines in the Receiving Guidelines so review that along with packaging best practices to ensure a positive customer experience.

If base products are not stored inside cases, they should not be exposed in their display packaging. If there is an opening that shows the contents of the package, it should optimally be shielded by clear plastic. This is necessary because while warehouses are clean environments, cardboard packaging breaks down during transit and creates dust particles that settle on individual products. Protecting them from exposure means a better experience for your customer upon receiving their purchase. Shirts and other apparel should be packaged in plastic bags, and cases should be used for packaging individual units. You can learn more in our product catalog configuration guide.

You should also keep packaging size in mind. Depending on which international markets you sell in, the same product but with smaller packaging can appeal more to your buyers. In certain countries, the buyer or distributor is responsible for the costs of collecting, sorting, transporting, and recycling packaging materials. This makes packaging an important aspect to consider not only for marketing, but also for your cost-savings strategy.

Bulk Product

Inner Packs


Formerly Inner Cases/Cartons
When using inner packs packed inside a master case, use a cardboard that is sturdy enough to allow for normal handling in the warehouse. Inner packs should not easily tear, or break apart. Remember: all inner packs must be labeled based on the guidelines in the Receiving Guidelines so review that along with packaging best practices to ensure a positive customer experience.

Software Packaging Best Practices

Specifications are difficult to define since each product has a different weight and size, but you should use good judgement for packaging your products. If there are any concerns about the ability of the inner pack to sufficiently protect the product, run a test order or contact the Shipwire Care Team.

Sealing tape must be at least 2 inches wide and used on all open sides to properly seal cartons. Do not use tape or band two cartons together to make a case pack. All cases should be in their own individual cartons and/or plastic bags.

Master Cases

Formerly Master Cartons
Cases and other packaging must sufficiently protect your product from damage during inbound transit and receiving by a Shipwire warehouse. Remember: all master cases must be labeled based on the guidelines in the Receiving Guidelines so review that along with packaging best practices to ensure a positive customer experience.

  • Master cases with contents <70 lbs. (31.75kg) must use double-wall corrugate.
  • Master cases with contents >70 lbs. (31.75kg) must use triple-wall corrugate.
  • Cartons must score a minimum of 200 lb. on the bursting strength test and 32 ECT on the edge crush test.
  • Cartons and packaging used for parcel shipping (non-freight) should be designed to protect their contents from a 4 ft (1.2 m) fall.
  • Pallets and master cases should not arrive with mixed products inside and will be considered non-compliant inbound, incur labor fee to reorganize.
  • Any carton of 2 or more mixed individual products should include a packing list for that specific carton.


Pallets generally have to comply with local standards. US Customs and the US FDA have specific requirements around the type of pallet used for shipping. Typically, hardwood or plastic pallets will meet standards. Softwood pallets must be fumigated and you or your customs broker will need a certificate attesting to the fumigation. Please contact the Shipwire Care Care team or your customs broker before shipping if you have any questions.

Packing lists

A packing list is required for packages that are sent to Ingram Micro warehouses. A packing list is automatically generated when you create a receiving order in your Shipwire account.

Golang Packaging Best Practices

  • The packing list should be clear and indicate exactly how many packages, cartons, and containers are arriving, and the contents of each of these.
  • The packing list should match the contents of the ASN.
  • A master case should not arrive with mixed products inside, but if mixing is necessary, include a specific packing list for that master case.

Java Packaging Best Practices

Packaging materials

You are responsible for ensuring that merchandise is sufficiently protected from damage during transit and delivery to an Ingram Micro distribution center. This requires shipping cartons that are adequately packed for shipment.

  • For cartons containing glass or plastic bottles, use dividers to protect the merchandise from breakage or crushing. Fragile items should be individually packed in cartons that will protect them from being damaged.
  • Unless otherwise specified, do not use any fillers such as confetti paper, cardboard, tissue paper, etc., to fill up empty space within the cartons. Void fill should be limited to inflated air bags, packing peanuts, or kraft paper.

4-foot drop test
Products or packaging that are susceptible to damage through ordinary handling or extended storage must be able to pass a 4-foot drop test onto a hard surface without the product breaking.

Doing this test on your packaging ensures that your products will be able to withstand typical impacts during handling and shipping. A typical drop test consists of five drops:

  • flat on base
  • flat on top
  • flat on longest side
  • flat on shortest side
  • on a corner

If your packaging can safely withstand these tests, it has passed the 4-foot drop test and can be used to safely ship your products.

Any shippable product must be able to withstand a full minute vigorous shaking (FMVS) test without any contents breaking

Plastic Bags

These guidelines should be followed for plastic bags used as protection during shipment and removed when the product is received in the warehouse. These requirements do not apply to plastic bags used as display packaging.

Retail Packaging Best Practices

  • Plastic bags used for products sent to Shipwire warehouses must comply with all federal, state, and local laws.
  • Do not package toys in bags that stretch to more than 14 inches in neck circumference, or to more than 23 inches when the stretched neck circumference and the bag’s length are combined.
  • For apparel, use low-density, recyclable, polyethylene dry-cleaning style bags 1mm in thickness. Contents should be easily removed from these bags.

Oversized and/or heavy individually packed items

Cartons, or individual items larger than 18 inches (45.7 cm) in any two dimensions (e.g. length and width), and/or with weight greater than 28 lbs (12.7 kg) are considered oversized.

Oversized items may incur additional receiving charges. Please contact our customer care team if you have any concerns or questions about your product.

Oversized cartons or items should be sufficiently packed to withstand pressure incurred through the normal course of handling heavier items. These items should be able to sustain being moved, or handled with equipment including, but not limited to: forklifts, pallet jacks, clamp trucks, conveyors, hand trucks, and sortation equipment.

Other guidelines

Wrap all items at high or moderate risk of damage individually.

To evaluate your damage risk, consider both your product’s replacement cost, and the likelihood of damage. Valuable consumer electronics would typically be considered high risk. Apparel is typically considered low-risk.

For any high-value product that is not covered by insurance (e.g. fragile products), adequate packaging is your damage insurance.

Ensure any fragile product is marked as such when you configure your Shipwire product catalog.

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Wrap products that are subject to color-fading such as leather products in polybags instead of paper.

Include a silica gel pack if your product is sensitive to moisture.

Ensure that any packaging used for toys is not hazardous to children.

Related links

Quick links to carrier-specified best-practices:


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Packaging is one of the most important final steps you can do to ensure the freshness and quality of your produce.


With the different types of packaging, it’s hard to know where to start and how to do it right.

  1. Remember the primary market drivers. The ideal retail-ready package is a shipping package that can be almost instantly shelf-ready. Understand the brief or the specific goal you need to meet completely, and ask for all marketing input upfront. Get shopping data from retailers, if possible, to learn what forms have been working for the retailer, and keep those in mind throughout the package development process.
  2. Engage suppliers early. Always work closely with suppliers in order to optimize the retail product SKUs and features before starting the real project. Make sure you understand the customers’ requirements.
  3. Mind your perforations. The type of perforation will affect the ease of tearing, and the design and placement of a tear-off part will affect the strength of the package. One best practice when designing retail-ready packaging is to double-check that your new packaging design will work with the current packaging equipment. A simple thing like a perforation pattern can end up right where a suction cup is supposed to pick up and place a package, which can cause major issues for something relatively small.
  4. Maximize the experience for retailer staff. Keep it simple. Perform ethnographic research and carefully watch retailer staff interact with existing retail-ready packaging. Make the packaging intuitive for the stock person to display correctly. Too many parts and wordy instructions should be avoided. Instead, develop easy-to-follow graphic instructions as long as they don’t detract from the overall visual design. Construct a package that contains a reasonable quantity of product, that can be loaded in a single action, and that is easy to swap out and dispose of with minimal waste. When reasonable, make reloading possible even with some quantity of product still in the retail-ready packaging, to avoid stock-outs.
  5. Maximize the experience for consumers. Always design with the consumer in mind. Make sure the packaging is not only easy to stock on shelf and looks great, but also that the consumer can remove the primary product package from the retail-ready packaging easily. With the short time you have to get the consumer’s buy decision, you can’t afford to be hard to pick up at the crucial moment of sale. Square-ness and perpendicularity are critical to a sturdy, stackable presentation, but avoid sharp corners and edges for customer safety and comfort when reaching into the retail-ready packaging.
  6. Compromise to align goals. Retail-ready packages should be thought of holistically, as primary package design has an impact on secondary packaging and on pallet optimization. Reducing material thickness cuts costs, but a common pitfall is not having heavy enough carton weight, or strong enough seals, to hold the contents securely during shipping. Understanding the quality of overseas board is critical when designing a retail-ready package. Develop multiple mockups and test packages with drop tests and on actual shelves to confirm viability.
  7. Invest in thorough design exploration. Let packaging designers do their job to prevent design by committee. Avoid “me-too” packaging strategies that dilute the brand. Start with the mandatory labeling elements on the retail-ready packaging first and then design around them, because starting with a graphic element first can be counterproductive. Retail-ready packages are highly marketing driven, so creativity in graphic package design tends to trump functionality. Look to other categories for inspiration. Finally, use a collaborative approach with production to design a functional package that is both eye-catching and easily automated.
  8. Present a conscientious structure. Avoid odd shapes and complicated packaging that will not be seen as efficient by the retailer and the consumer. Avoid standard “stadium case” packaging that does not perform well on shelf. One pitfall is falling into something so specialized there is no flexibility in materials supply. Whenever possible, minimize the dimensional changes between SKUs and packaging. For instance, if you have a series of cartons for the same product but different counts, only change one dimension, which in turn could prevent changes in case dimensions.
  9. Don’t skimp on printing. Flexographic printing on corrugated and paperboard has improved in recent years, but make sure not to compromise the brand’s visual equity. Make sure brand impression still is strong and represents the brand in its best light, and that print registration stays within acceptable variances. And consider shelf wear and its impact on shelf appearance when choosing materials and finishes.
  10. Sweat the details. In-the-field testing is almost a must to avoid failures with packaging that inhibits product from being picked off the shelves because of its bad appearance. If feasible, invest in ISTA certification. Use only certified materials for distribution in the geographic locations intended, and maintain records of objective evidence of certification. Double-check all retailer specifications, including pallet type, weight, height, materials, signage, etc. Consider quality control camera inspection to ensure the right materials are used and the right UPC code is present on every package.