Three years out from the Covid-19 pandemic, online shopping has become more popular than ever. While that’s mostly great news for small businesses, it also presents a problem—accommodating a huge influx of orders can be difficult to scale, especially if you don’t have a lot of hands on deck! Luckily, there are a variety of gadgets available that can make your small-scale packaging process easier and more efficient. With these tools in your arsenal, you can stop wasting time untangling bits of tape and more time on the fun part—making and marketing your product.
Bar code labelers
For years, small businesses had to rely on third parties to design, create and deliver their barcode labels. Barcode label printers put the power in the hands of the businesses, helping reduce costs and increase flexibility. When shopping for bar code printers, you will see two basic options: direct thermal printers, and thermal transfer printers. Direct thermal printers use labels that blacken when heat is applied to them; they don’t require ink or toner, but produce labels that may fade over time. Thermal transfer labels use a ribbon to melt ink onto the label surface. These labels have excellent print quality and scanner readability, but are more costly.
Of course, many of the labels applied to boxes and packages don’t need unique serial numbers, which means they can be ordered in large batches to save money. Applying hundreds of labels to hundreds of boxes manually can be extremely time-consuming—not to mention boring—so if you find yourself doing a lot of peeling and sticking, consider investing in a label dispenser that can help make things easier. Label dispensers are one of many organizational tools you can use to make your packing area neater and more organized, therefore increasing your production times.
We are not going to explain to you what a tape dispenser is. We are, however, going to make the case that you absolutely should be using them if you aren’t already. Tape dispensers help tape go on smoothly and neatly, instead of tangling in itself and adding an unnecessary amount of frustration to what is already a frustrating endeavor (running a business). They also mean that you will never have to search for the end of the roll, or risk your fingernails trying to lift the darn thing. While the majority of tape dispensers are more or less the same, some models can dispense tape at a predetermined length, reducing waste and cost. If you’re trying to be more eco-friendly, you might also consider using paper tape and paper tape dispensers.
Air Cushion Machines
If you have ever ordered from Amazon or a similar retailer, you’ve probably seen air cushions before. These lightweight, inflatable plastic “pillows” are a cost-efficient way to keep items secure during transport. They are often preferred over other void fill materials, like packing peanuts, because they are stored flat prior to use and don’t take up a lot of space. Unlike bubble wrap, which is more or less the same thing, air pillows can be made as-needed, a big advantage for those working in a tight space. Customers tend to like air cushions, too, because they are mess-free (unlike Styrofoam) and, once deflated, take up minimal space in the garbage bin.
Impulse sealers are used to seal various types of plastic packaging (most often, clear poly bags.) They get their name from the fact that they use an “impulse” of electricity to heat a metal wire, which melts one layer of plastic to the other. This creates a permanent seal that can only be broken by cutting or ripping. When shopping for impulse sealers, you might see a crimped hand sealer option—these work in the same way, but give the top of the bag ridges (think the tops of chip bags, for instance.) While there are other types of heat sealers available, impulse sealers are valued because they don’t require any warm-up time—simply plug it in, and you’re ready to go. They don’t require any cool-down time, either, making them a little bit safer to use.
Need packaging supplies in Richmond or nearby?
SSI Packaging is a small, family-owned packaging company based in Richmond, VA. Our Richmond packaging store has everything small business owners need to pack, label, ship, and track their products, from tape, to boxes, to bubble wrap, and everything in-between. We hope that this article has helped you identify some ways to speed up your packaging process. If you happen to check out our product catalogue and are unsure which option will be the best to suit your needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by phone or email, and our store representatives will be happy to help you out!