For a parcel shipper or freight shipper looking to reduce costs and save time across the supply chain, the low-hanging fruit generally appears in potential changes to modes of production, shipment and storage. The parcel shipper or freight shipper might even have a reliable shipping software or transportation management system (TMS) to help simplify those daunting manual tasks, and a freight or small parcel auditing company to help save in parcel shipping fees and freight fees, and to help optimize some of the other supply chain management aspects. However, there is one factor in shipping logistics management that is very often overlooked, but can be extremely important to save money shipping and maximize efficiency. This is the matter of product packaging.

Known as “package optimization,” the process of choosing the right packaging for a particular product is worth the manufacturer’s, parcel shipper’s or freight shipper’s investment of time for several reasons. Partnering with industry experts such as small parcel auditing companies and freight audit companies, as well as third party logistics providers (3PLs) is absolutely the wisest strategy for optimizing the shipping process, but it does not logically follow that packaging decisions should be left to impressive-looking marketing and design professionals who, for all their artistic savvy, might be unaware of burdens the wrong packaging can place on the overall supply chain. Package optimization is an important and practical matter of engineering to get cheap shipping rates, and if experts are called in, they should be supply chain specialists. Marketing and design tweaks can always be made at a later stage (after shipping and storage) to help products fly off the shelves.

Package optimization is simply optimizing packages to ensure that packaging is friendly to the entire supply chain system specific to a business. Thoughtful decisions on the way packaging is done will not only save the shipper time and money, but also optimize supply chain management.

Through package optimization, a parcel shipper or freight shipper is able to analyze the range of available packaging materials to identify which are best for their supply chain. This also means identifying which of the packaging materials already in use by the shipper actually burden the supply chain, which materials are being purchased but are not put into use (or to good use), and which are unnecessarily expensive within their overall shipping budget. Sometimes a packaging material is inexpensive, but it is difficult to use, so the extra manual labor involved in packaging with it makes it inefficient.

While everyone wants the best quality material for product packaging, it should not be assumed that the most appropriate materials are to be found among expensive and well-known brands. Costs for packaging materials can be reduced by making smarter decisions about the nature of the materials themselves, through looking into reasonable and cheaper alternatives. For instance, using hot-melts instead of tape saves both time and money.

In addition, optimization of  packages is connected with greater resource sustainability. The manufacture of cardboard boxes and plastic containers has a greater negative impact on the environment than the creation of many other packaging options. The shipper can look instead for materials that reduce the carbon footprint of their supply chain. Even moving to thinner plastic or recycled cardboard can be significant. The adoption of more sustainable business practices is likely to appeal to many ecologically-minded potential customers as well, and to raise the prestige of the shipper’s or manufacturer’s brand.

Optimizing packaging, through attention to dimensions, saves the costs of unnecessary weight and filled space. Reducing or changing the size and shape of packaged products allows the transportation of more products and reduces freight shipping costs and parcel shipping fees. When investing time in package optimization for an individual logistics management strategy, the shipper should consider both efficiency and complexity. This means balancing the two goals of having as many similar packages as possible, and having each item in its own best package. When the right balance has been achieved, your small parcel auditing results will show how you save money shipping, your packages will be lighter, and less freight shipping or parcel shipping space is wasted.

Unnecessary expenditures hurt the business as well as its customers. When wasteful packaging practices have been eliminated through package optimization, the supply chain reaps the benefits. While transportation management systems or other shipping software, small parcel auditing, and shipping technology solutions in the supply chain are the usual industry must haves, every shipper should consider finding the best packaging optimization techniques for their own business to save money shipping with cheap shipping rates, and to truly take their logistics management to the next level.

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