The quality of the user's first encounter with the product he or she acquired will reflect product packaging design, which addresses the following aspects:
Goal: The packaging design should allow the user to transport the product to the location of use easily and safely and to clearly identify the contents of each box.
Minimize the number of boxes the customer must transport.
When possible, a single outer box is the best solution for delivering the product. However, weight and size constraints may dictate the use of multiple boxes. When products are to be transported by the customer, sales information should identify the number and sizes of boxes so the customer can plan for adequate transportation.
Use box sizes appropriate to the customer's transportation modes.
Boxes should be designed with the customer's common modes of transport in mind. For example, a family/individual customer will likely use a family car, whereas an enterprise customer is more likely to employ a professional moving agent. When the size of an outer box may restrict it from fitting in mid-size and compact cars, package internal components in their own boxes to make it easy for the user to separate them for transportation.
Provide handholds on large boxes.
All boxes larger than approximately 40 cm wide, 30 cm tall, and 30 cm deep should have handholds for carrying. The number and position of handholds must be appropriate for the number of people recommended to carry the box and should be balanced for the distribution of weight in the box.
Display weight and caution information on the outside of boxes.
The weight of each box should be externally displayed as follows:
|Weight of box||Marking|
|< 18 kg||Precise weight in kg and lbs.|
|18 - 32 kg||18 - 32 kg (39.7 - 70.5 lbs.), plus
warning triangle and 2 person lift symbol.
|32 - 55 kg||32 - 55 kg (70.5 - 121.2 lbs.), plus
warning triangle and 3 person lift symbol.
|55 kg||Avoid. Use multiple boxes if possible.|
Minimize the use of internal packaging.
Individual items should have separate packaging only if essential, for example, to protect a sensitive electronic component from static electricity. In general, excessive use of shrink-wrap should be avoided because it is usually difficult to remove and irritating for users. Zip lock bags and accessory trays can be convenient for storing accessories.
Provide a list of contents for each box.
A list of the major items should be provided either on the outside of the box or in a prominent position inside the box. Make sure that any "Read This First" materials are packaged so they will be seen immediately and cannot be easily overlooked.
Group related components together.
Components that will be assembled or used together should be grouped together inside the box. Ensure that cables and manuals for a component are shipped in the same box as the component.
Use attractive and informative packaging.
Packaging should be attractive and identify what is contained in each box. A model number or other information that allows the user to identify the contents should be clearly displayed. If pictures are shown on the packaging they should accurately portray the product in the box. This allows the user to verify that they have the correct model or version. Use a friendly and nontechnical style when the intended user is likely to be technically unsophisticated and oriented to consumer products.
Label boxes to indicate the priority and role of their contents.
If a particular box should be opened first it can be labeled "Open Me First." A color-coding scheme indicating what's in each box can help the user who has many installations to perform. For example, use a red color scheme for printers, yellow for monitors, and so forth.
Label multiple related boxes with numbers.
When multiple boxes are used to ship related components they should be numbered using a technique like 1 of 6, 2 of 6, 3 of 6, and so forth. The numbering should be done after the entire order is complete and ready to ship. For example, separate boxes might contain a system unit, disk drive, tape drive, printer, cables, and so forth. These boxes might also arrive from more than one point of origin. The shipper, customer, and freight company should all understand how many boxes are involved.
Use commonly understood, intuitive, and standard symbols.
Commonly used symbols can be used on the exterior of boxes to help avoid the costs of translations for products having worldwide distribution. For example, an umbrella icon indicates "keep dry," a champagne glass indicates "fragile," and an "up arrow" indicates which side of the box should be up. A graphic representing a stack of boxes with a number underneath can be used to indicate how high the boxes can be stacked. Consult industry, national, and international standards for sources and meanings of symbols.
Provide the customer with a list of boxes and content of each.
The customer's invoice should indicate how many boxes were shipped and identify the content of each box. This allows the customer to verify receipt and to identify what is missing if any of the boxes do not arrive.
Provide the customer with shipping and tracking information
Inform the user about shipping origins for various components and provide contact information for tracking should it become necessary.
Take advantage of packaging for product promotion.
Consider using the box to promote the product's brand image and ease of use messages. Use highly visible and eye-catching graphics. Every flat surface is potentially an advertising billboard. If theft during transit is a concern, use a plain outer box and a product-specific inner box imprinted with branding, advertising, and messages.
Design packaging to facilitate third parties.
Third party resellers often buy multiples of a product, ship them to a central location, unpack them, add some value-add components or services, repack the products, and send them on to the end customer or distributor. The packaging for these products should make repacking easy, and the unpacking instructions should be clear that the packing material is to be kept intact in case repacking is intended.
Customize products and packaging for large-scale replicated installation.
To facilitate installation of a large number of similar products throughout a particular enterprise, consider tailoring the boxes at the plant of origin. For example:
Provide documentation in convenient forms and groupings.
Use a consistent form factor for bound books, and place single sheets and small loose documentation items, such as advertisements, coupons, phone number stickers, and so forth in envelopes. Label envelopes to indicate the kind of material they contain. Avoid mixing essential and nonessential information in the same envelope.