Preparing your packaging operation for peak is a challenging time. If making sure you have enough of the right types of packaging, recruiting and training enough staff to cope with the anticipated demand, and making sure machinery is serviced and in top condition wasn’t enough to contend with, peak is often a time when ‘uglies’ show up in force.

If you’re not familiar with the term ‘uglies’ then count yourself lucky, because that means you’re probably not having to deal with them. Uglies are without doubt among the most challenging items that a packing operation has to contend with.

The problem with Uglies

Typically, ‘uglies’ are those fragile or difficult to pack items, such as ornaments and Christmas decorations, but it is a term that can also be applied to any awkwardly shaped item that standard packaging might struggle to protect – it comes down to being an ugly process.

The big problem with ‘uglies’ however, is that they are often low value items, which makes the task of packaging them up safely and economically a serious challenge. Fortunately, it’s an area that our packaging experts here at Antalis have a lot of experience in.

Here are our experts’ top tips on packaging your seasonal ‘uglies’

1. Get your packaging partner involved as early as possible – ideally before a big order for thousands of impossibly fragile items has been placed! Taking the time to test out packaging ideas first can save a lot of bother and expense further down the line, and prevent damage to your products and your reputation.

2. Accept that some things just cannot be packaged to arrive in one piece. A popular Christmas decoration over recent years has been woodland scenes of trees and animals in glass jars. The disappointing fact is that nine times out of ten, even if the jar is protected with the most cushiony, protective packaging imaginable, the animals inside the jar will become dislodged/unstuck during transit, arriving at their destination upended and unintentionally stuck up a tree. Items like these are best left to be sold in bricks and mortar stores where the consumer can carefully carry it home with them.

3. Find a balance between speed of packaging and cost of packaging. Labour is the most expensive aspect of any packing operation, but taking up one – or all – of the following ideas can help to reduce the cost per pack of your seasonal uglies:

a) Dedicated packing line. Set up a packing line that specialises in packing uglies. Because they will be packing them all the time, staff will become much more proficient than if they are having to pack a broad mix of items.

b) Don’t offer next day delivery on uglies. By packing them in batches Instead, it will be easier to manage the packing flow and generally ensure a much more efficient and effective process.

 4. Devise a plan with your packaging partner. For larger uglies, having enough space to hold storage materials can be an issue. A good packaging partner will be able to work with you to find a solution. That includes not only designing packaging that works, but also supplying your packaging materials on an as-needed basis. For example, if you pack uglies on a batch basis as suggested in point 3.b. (above), by sending your packaging partner a summary of your sales once a week or whatever timeframe you might have agreed, they will be able to supply you the exact quantity of materials just when you need it.

For advice on packaging your season uglies, contact our experts here or arrange a Free Smart Packaging Audit via the link below.