QLP’s Customer Guide to Special Promo Products Packaging and Shipping
The goal at Quality Logo Products® to provide you with promo products you love at a price that makes sense. That means that when you look at your order form or invoice (and even when you see your No Surprise Pricing information on the product page before you order), you’ll see all charges listed, included setup fees, shipping charges… oh, and any special packaging info.
“Special packaging info?” you say. “Don’t you just put my order in a box and ship it?”
Usually, yes, though there’s a lot more that goes into packaging an order than that (like arranging items carefully and neatly and checking that the order is correct – you know, the little things). However, some custom items require a little more TLC when they’re shipped from the factory.
To help make your shopping experience even easier, here’s a guide to the various special packaging situations you might encounter when ordering promotional items. They usually carry extra charges, but for a good reason: your delicate or environmentally sensitive items are packed and shipped the safest way possible, so that you can enjoy your next giveaway stress-free.
Have you ever had to pack everything in your house or apartment for a move? Did you find yourself looking at your glasses, mugs, or ceramic dishware and thinking, “It’s all going to break, it’s all going to break, it’s all going to break?”
We don’t want you to experience that paralyzing fear when you order your promotional items, because paralyzing fear is generally neither pleasant nor helpful. That’s why promotional items that are fragile and breakable usually are shipped to you in damage-resistant boxes.
Damage-resistant boxes have a few qualities to help your items stand up to all the thumps and bumps that can occur during the shipping process. First, they contain extra padding or packing material. You know how you’ll wrap your favorite mug in two billion layers of newspaper (or, even better, Bubble Wrap) before you place it in the box? Well, damage-resistant packaging takes that idea and incorporates the extra padding into the box itself.
There’s a scientific reason why all of that extra padding works, by the way. Protective gear that has some kind of insulation (like the foam inside a hard hat) is able to absorb some of the kinetic energy from a good old-fashioned thunk and prevent that energy from being transferred to the fragile items inside (in the case of a hard hat, the construction worker’s head). Plus, energy from the impact also gets spread across the outer surface of the protective gear, so it dissipates. The more you know!
In addition to extra padding, damage-resistant boxes also contain specific slots designed to fit and hold a single item. Not only do these slots prevent your promo items from shifting too much in transit; they also provide a little extra structural support for the box itself, a bit like the struts and braces in a bridge’s frame, as you can see below.
Damage-resistant boxes have a shape that’s particular to the item that’s ordered, so they’re generally not available for items like pens that don’t need them. They usually incur an additional charge per case, which is one more reason why it’s best to order items like mugs and other drinkware in case quantities.
How will you know if a damage-resistant box is needed for your item? If you’re ordering something fragile, like a coffee mug, you pretty much can bet on it. You also can ask your Quality Logo Products® sales representative, or check under the “More Options” section of the product information page.
If you’ve ever eaten chocolate outside on a summer day, you know how gooey and melty it can get when it’s warm. Now imagine taking a whole bunch of custom chocolates, packing them inside of a box where warm air can get trapped, and mailing that box to the hotter, more humid parts of the country.
As you can imagine, when it comes to shipping personalized chocolates and other candies, a basic box won’t do. That’s why chocolates and other edibles almost always get shipped inside insulated coolers.
The insulated coolers used to ship promotional goods are essentially boxes lined with Styrofoam or another insulating material. Time for science lesson #2 for the day! There are two reasons why Styrofoam conducts heat so poorly (which makes it a great insulator):
- It’s made up of molecules that are really, really long. Sure, molecules are tiny things, but because they’re long (which often makes them kinda twisty), they create a lot of little paths that heat would have to travel along before it could reach the items inside the Styrofoam box.
- It’s made by injecting gas bubbles into a material that’s essentially plastic. Those bubbles get trapped in the material, which is what makes Styrofoam so light. But gas is terrible at passing along heat; metal is much better, as anyone who’s ever sat on a metal chair left out in the sun will know.
Who knew so much science went into keeping your fingers from getting smudged with chocolate? There are plenty of other materials that can be used as insulators, too, as you can see in the photo below from one of our manufacturing partners, which features a cooler lined with reflective material to keep away some of the heat that comes from light sources.
Like damage-resistant boxes, insulated coolers usually incur a charge per case, which you’ll also find noted on the product information page. If you’re ordering a perishable, edible item, you can plan on having it packed in an insulated cooler to keep it fresh and, you know, not goopy.
Hazardous Materials Packaging
Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean that Quality Logo Products® is shipping radioactive uranium or anything like that. Otherwise, I’d be really suspicious every time I’m asked to test a product sample.
However, some items do contain materials or substances that it’s best to be careful of during the packing and shipping process. The best example we can offer right off the bat? Cigarette lighters. Many of our budget lighters come filled with lighter fluid, which just happens to be a wee bit flammable. In the hands of a responsible adult who’s aware of safety precautions, a lighter is a useful tool. That doesn’t mean you want to drop a bunch of lighters into a box and mail them unprotected.
Items that require hazardous materials packaging have to be shipped in certain kinds of packing materials so that they can travel safely. In the case of lighters, it’s packaging that prevents lighter fluid from leaking. This, again, usually incurs a charge for each carton or case of the item ordered.
Dangerous Goods Shipping
Hazardous materials and dangerous goods… who knew that the world of promotional products shipping could sound like the setting of a Michael Bay movie?
You might be wondering what makes shipping dangerous goods different from packaging hazardous materials. It’s a good question – and it’s a very fine distinction. But these are two separate labels that our suppliers assign to products based on regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- When we talk about hazardous materials packaging, we’re talking about an extra charge to use special, out-of-the-ordinary packing containers to protect your items (and the people handling them).
- In contrast, when an item gets flagged with the “Dangerous Goods” label, we’re talking about an item that (almost always) can be shipped only via ground shipping, out of an abundance of caution.
You might be aware that the TSA has heavy restrictions on the kinds of items that airline passengers can bring on a plane. Well, those restrictions also apply to freight, because there has to be a safety limit on the amount of a substance like alcohol-based hand sanitizer (super flammable!) or, you know, the number of knives that a plane can carry.
The good news is that if you need your custom hand sanitizers in a hurry, you’re not out of luck just because of these restrictions. Many of our promotional products suppliers are able to work some magic and, for a “Dangerous Goods” fee, expedite the shipping process. The dangerous goods fee applies only when you request expedited shipping. Suppliers have to earn special approval to be able to expedite dangerous goods shipments, so rest assured that your hand sanitizers are in good, um, hands.
* * *
Most of the time, promotional products shipping is easy peasy stress ball squeezie. In certain cases… well, packaging an item takes a little extra time and material, but if it makes it easy for you, the customer, to enjoy your items, then it’s worth it! We hope this clarifies our special packaging situations for you and helps you feel confident about your next order (which we hope you know is special to us no matter which item you choose).
Have you ever had your promo items shipped in special packaging before? How was your experience? What can companies do to make the shipping process even easier for you? Let us know in the comments below!