International shipping, what do I need to do to make sure my goods get there safely?

International Shipping has in recent years been battered from pillar to post with new rules and regulations, especially from the UK. Well, we won't be the best person to talk to you about how to avoid those rules and regs, but we sure can make sure your goods get there safely.

International Shipping

International Shipping has in recent years been battered from pillar to post with new rules and regulations, especially from the UK. Well, we won't be the best person to talk to you about how to avoid those rules and regs, but we sure can make sure your goods get there safely.

Like all things, there's always a different set of statistics for each scenario, as there are different variables, but the below information is tailored to apply to as many people as possible, and if you only take away one thing, well it's been a success!

1. Palletisation

Please, please, please, do not put your goods on a broken, weak and undersized pallet. Make sure you start right, in choosing the correct pallet in both size and strength as putting goods on a poor quality pallet, shipping them 100s of miles on different couriers will end up in pain for you and your company.

Use layer pads - what are these? A sheet of cardboard cut to fit UK and Euro pallets, which sits between layers of goods to provide vertical stability to the pallet. It will also protect your goods from chips and scuffs from rubbing against each other when the load may move slightly. They are inexpensive and a sure way of making sure that your pallet stays in the upright position.

Stacking products doesn't mean crushing them to make them sit tight! If your products don't stack safely as they are, put them into an outer box that fits perfectly, and make sure you select the right board grade for the box so it doesn't compromise the pallet stability.

Wrapping - something many of us do but not many know much about. It's important to make sure the palletwrap used is suited to the application. When wrapping, don't do it in excess as that's a waste. Wrap carefully, making sure to put at least 2 layers of palletwrap around the bottom of the pallet, making sure to overlap the goods and the pallet itself to ensure the goods stay on the pallet during transit. At the top, you should apply at least 3 layers of palletwrap, making sure to pull the palletwrap tight (if applied by hand) to avoid any slack appearing for goods to move. Alternatively, if wrapping goods by hand, use pre-stretch as this will ensure all stretch is taken out of the film.

2. Parcel Couriers

We've often found over the years, that it's hard to pin a parcel courier like DHL, FedEx, Royal Mail down to make sure your goods get shipped safely each day. What we have found works is this:

- Make sure that your parcels are packed efficiently and tightly within the carton, wrap or bag. Not only will this reduce cost, but when the goods get moved in transit they are less likely to break or puncture through the packaging.

- If using cartons to send your parcels out, using a strapping machine, inexpensive to rent and are a real help in making sure your cartons stay shut, decrease pilferage and stop couriers using the box flaps to haul the parcel about!

- Plastic tapes no longer cut it when you have the water-activated tape machine and our 70mm reinforced paper tape. These tapes use gum adhesive and water to make sure the seal on the box is instant, long-lasting and difficult to open with your hands. We've proven that it stops pilferage, stops damages due to the box opening in transit, and saves you a 1/3 on plastic tape cost due to the minimal amount you have to use. You can book a trial with us today for a machine, free!

- If there's one Parcel Courier that does deliver on promises and works hard to provide support, it's ParcelForce.

3. Containers (the dreaded word)

These days, containers are a nightmare for most companies. With ships being delayed at port thanks to a shortage of staff and the 'pingdemic' it's hardly surprising containers are turning up to our yards weeks or months late. There are two points we'd like to pass on from our experience of container shipping.

One - make sure you warn your customers that although you've been promised date of x, it could well arrive up to 2-4 weeks after that. Container shipping companies in the main don't seem to like promising any fixed dates for delivery are more than likely to over promise and under delivery! Don't be fooled! Make sure you remain in contact with the shipping company throughout transit to foresee any delays. Even track the ship carrying your container on a ship radar!

Two - papers, papers, papers, that's all the port authorities want to see is the right documentation. In some cases it's just a copy invoice and a 'CMR', other times it's shipping notes, container passes, invoices, stamps and whatever else they choose to dream up. If you don't understand how the paperwork works (which most of us don't) it's well worth the extra £300 to ask an imports company to look after the paperwork for you as it doesn't half save you the aggro!

4. Costs of Int'nl Shipping

I was reading another friend's blog recently on parcels going to America, and he named a very important point, and that's transparency with costs to your customers. Don't be afraid to lay them out in front of your customers, however steep they may seem. With international parcels, you can expect to pay anything from £30 to £100 for a small item. With pallets or containers, it can become very costly.

As a rough guide, we've laid some costs out below.

20 foot container - £6,000 - £9,000

40 foot container - £9,000 - £20,000

Pallets - £150/pallet (Depending on size, goods and destination)

Full load (pallets) - £600

Parcels (small) - £40

Parcels (large) - £80

We tend to err on the side of caution and make sure our customers are well aware at the quoting stage of any shipping costs incurred, 'transparency is the name of the game'.

That pretty much concludes it, and hopefully, you all find something useful in this post. If you want any other questions answered or want to meet up, drop me an email -

Written by: Giles

Date: 10.08.21