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Packaging Lessons Part 3

Now that we have the final package design for this holiday season, we have to box it up. We have been reusing the various boxes we have around from the things that we buy. So our wholesale customers get their SleepPhones in Amazon boxes, Staples boxes, and a variety of other boxes. We'd try to rip off the excess stickers and cover up writing with SleepPhones stickers. It wasn't very professional looking, but at least we were reusing — one step up the sustainability chain from recycling. Our manufacturer's representative advised us to get some more consistent packaging.

Boxes for Our Sleep Headphones

Retailers like inner cartons and master cartons. Inner cartons are usually in 6-packs of 12-packs, depending on the size of the item and how they night fit on a shelf. They want to be able to take out a 6-pack, put it on the shelf, and not have to take any back to the stock room. For our medium size product, 6-packs and 12-packs (for 6 of two different colors) seem reasonable.

If the store is a chain, then they would want to take a master carton, open that up, and send out a 6-pack or a 12-pack to their individual stores. A master carton of 24 would be excessive packaging, while a master carton of 108 may be a bit too much.

Ideally, I would have liked to pack 72 into a master carton. I drew out the geometry for that and was quite excited. Unfortunately, when I calculated the final sizing, I figured out that it would be too big. FedEx and UPS both have calculations for what they consider an over-sized box. If the length + 2 (width+height) > 84 inches, then it's oversized. They charge a minimum of 30 pounds worth of stuff for oversized packages, regardless of how much the package actually weights. 72 SleepPhones would weigh about 16-18 pounds. So I nixed that design.

Then I looked into packages of 60 pieces. It would fit in just under the oversized box limit, and it would be easy to carry. It's a nice even number, so people could order 300 pieces or 600 pieces. I did all of the calculations for that, and the final 60-pack box size would be about 31" x 14" x 12". I took that information and tried to stack it onto a pallet. If someone order 1200 pieces, I'd need to put the boxes on a pallet for easier unloading. (It wouldn't be easier loading since we don't have a forklift, but we could just put the boxes onto a pallet in a truck if necessary.) I tried every configuration I could, and the size was just so awkward for a pallet! A typical wooden pallet is 40" x 48" x 5" and weighs about 15 pounds. The 31" length wasted lots of space around the edges of the pallet. So I finally had to give up that design.

The next design is for 48 pieces in a master carton. I shortened the inner cartons to make it fit, but I finally got a 24" x 14" x 12" box. That meant I could have two 24" boxes side by side on a pallet, so there wouldn't be wasted space. And if I turned the box on its side, I could have 3 rows of that. 6 boxes per level, 4 levels total, for a total height of 61". 24 boxes would be 1152 pieces per pallet, a pretty good number.

I draw up everything and was about to send it off to our adviser. Then I learned from a box expert that the corrugation on cardboard determines its strength. If the warehouse were to put another pallet on top of our pallet, it would need to withstand a lot of downward force. When I turned the box on its side to fit it onto a pallet, the corrugation would no longer be straight up and down. So... I had to swap the width and height to get it to work. I re-drew the boxes.

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