International shipments – External packaging solutions for your goods


Whether you are importing or exporting goods, there’s one thing that you want to be sure of, and that is the safe arrival of your products to their destination.

Depending on what you are shipping and the transportation mode being utilised, there are a number of elements that can affect shipments during the transportation process. These can include:

  • Shock – being dropped or struck by other goods
  • Compression – through the stacking of products
  • Moisture
  • Temperature and humidity
  • Corrosion
  • Static electricity
  • Magnetic fields

One of the most important aspects, but also one of the most overlooked is the provision of sufficient packaging to avoid damage to, and loss of your goods as a result of these impacts.

Your choice of packaging is likely to be dictated by your transportation method, the size of your shipment and the commodities that you are looking to transport. As packaging can work out costly, and to avoid higher transportation costs, if there is no necessary requirement to use expensive or heavier options don’t. This is specifically relevant with air freight shipments, which are based on weight.


So what are your options?



Most everyday items such as toys, kitchenware, clothing and computers are shipped via containers. Standardised shipping containers, as well as increasing protection levels, increase overall efficiency as they are easily transferable from road to ship to rail, decreasing handling time.

For more specialist shipments, refrigerated ‘reefer’ containers offer the capability to ship food and pharma produce within set temperature parameters, whilst platform, flat-rack and open top containers offer the provision to ship bulk and oversized cargo.

When utilising a container, it is important to consider the way in which the goods are loaded inside, to limit the impact of potential movement during transit.

Items should be well stacked, and any voids filled with additional packaging solutions. Packing your goods inside distribution cartons within a container provides extra protection and makes it easier for the transition of goods from the container to their final destinations.


Even if not using a container, individual and distribution packaging box solutions can be beneficial in the transit of your products. So let’s take a look at what packaging solutions are available….


Cardboard cartons

Corrugated cardboard cartons provide a cheap and recyclable solution for packaging your goods.

Single walled cartons are ideal for clothing and other non-breakable items, whilst, if you are seeking extra precaution and security, you may opt for double walled corrugated cartons. For heavier items such as machine parts and musical amps, tri-wall cartons provide a viable option. Being that they are thicker boxes, it is also possible to stack them for longer with less risk of damage than if using other corrugated cartons. However, despite the boxes being light, and yet capable of carrying heavier items, they can be costly and are still limited on the weight of goods that they can hold. It is also worth considering where and how you are to ship your goods when making the decision on your packaging option as cardboard could also suffer damage in wet or humid conditions.


Packing Crates, cases and Boxes

Usually made from solid wood or plastic, these packaging solutions offer an alternative to cardboard cartons.

Whilst generally a more expensive option to cardboard, these items offer added protection and so are often used for larger, heavier, higher value or fragile items. They also offer an ideal solution for when bespoke packaging solutions are required, in instances of irregular shipments such as wide or odd shaped items, or oversize items.

However, you should note that wooden items must meet the regulatory standards of ISPM15, which helps to prevent the spread of pests and wood diseases.


Woven bags

Woven bags are ideal for packing and shipping dry goods such as seed, sand, fertilisers and animal feed due to their strength as they are usually designed to be puncture resistant, and being weather resistant, they do not degrade when wet, meaning that the produce that they contain does not get ruined.

As woven bags are re-useable, they also offer an environmentally friendly packaging solution, whilst the fact that they are stackable simplifies the storage solution for the produce.



As with containers, pallet sizes are standardised, bringing an increased level of efficiency within the supply chain. Often used for grouping cartons, shrink wrapping a number of these boxes together makes it easier and quicker to move the items, especially given that pallets are compatible with forklifts. As with wooden crates and boxes it is necessary to ensure that the pallets you opt to use meet the regulatory standards of ISPM15, which helps to prevent the spread of pests and wood diseases.


Whilst these are some of the considerations that you should take into account when choosing your external packaging solutions, it’s not just what’s on the outside that counts, as we explore in our next blog…


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