The average retail shopper has a fairly basic idea of what goes on in the receiving rooms that are hidden behind those mysterious “employees only” doors: a couple burly workers armed with box cutters and knee-deep in piles of packing peanuts, endlessly sorting product onto carts and backstock shelves.
Anyone who’s actually worked in a retail receiving room, though, knows that the transfer of a retail store’s inventory isn’t a one-way street. In many cases, boxes are sent out just as frequently as they’re taken in, whether they’re fulfillments of customer orders or shipment of unsold products back to vendors. As such, your store probably already possesses basic packaging and shipping supplies such as scales, packing tape, and labels, but there are other supplies worth having on hand that may not be so obvious.
Penny-conscious managers might be inclined to instruct their workers to save and reuse the filler from incoming boxes, but some commonly-used types of packing peanuts tend to crumble into dust, while others are so susceptible to static cling that they will literally float several feet through the air to stick to a person: neither situation makes for a pleasant experience when a customer unpacks the special order you’ve shipped them! At least for shipments to your customers, it’s worth it to spring for high-quality fill – be it peanuts, bubble wrap, or Instapak foam – to keep your customers happy and ensure their order arrives safely.
Likewise, reusing the boxes in which your inventory arrives may seem like the responsible thing to do, but relying entirely on used boxes is not without its drawbacks. For one thing, it’s inevitable that some boxes will become torn, crumpled, or otherwise damaged before they reach you, and merely sticking a length of packing tape over the weakened area is often not enough to ensure that things won’t fall apart in transit.
Furthermore, by the time a box shows up in your storeroom, it can be covered in labels, marker scrawls, and dirt. Though these blemished boxes may be fine for returning products to vendors, it’s best to keep a stock of new boxes handy to present a thoughtful and neat appearance to your customers.
Receiving rooms are hubs of activity that goes well beyond the unpacking of boxes. Maintaining a full stock of shipping supplies is therefore necessary to keep things flowing out as well as in.