In a post-COVID world commonly characterized by remote working, shipping technological components is a critical aspect of IT support. If one of your workers, a customer or any other end user needs a new PC, phone, printer or another piece of equipment, it might not be feasible to simply drop by the office and pick it up. The other side of the coin is that you often need to ship the equipment back either to your central office or a vendor, which means that shipping policies should be easy to understand, simple to use and require only packaging available to the average individual.
Step One: Keep It Super Simple (KISS)
The KISS principle is an excellent one to keep in mind when helping people understand their responsibilities regarding shipping tech. Create a short guide, such as a single-page PDF, that outlines shipping requirements. Some of the things you might want to include are:
- Commonly used shipping addresses for your company, like the IT department, warehouse or any vendors that routinely service your equipment
- Frequently seen shipping mistakes (e.g., using painter’s tape or duct tape instead of packing tape)
- A list of acceptable packing materials
- Instructions for postage, such as how it’s paid for, where to get the label, whether it will be dropped off or picked up, shipping insurance and guidance for tracking numbers
- Instructions for marking out other writing or labels already on the box to avoid confusion
- A phone number to call if anyone has questions
Save the Original Box
Most larger tech components (think monitors, PC towers, printers and multifunction devices) come in custom-sized boxes with molded Styrofoam supports. This is, of course, the perfect packaging solution.
Many tech devices come with two boxes: a smaller, internal one that’s designed for retail display on store shelves and a large, thick, cardboard box that’s used to ship the device. If your tech comes with this kind of packaging, specifically clarify that both boxes should be kept. Include storage tips in the PDF guide for places to store these containers if space is an issue.
Specify the Packaging
It’s important to provide guidance on what kind of packaging should and shouldn’t be used. For example, loose-fill packaging materials like “packing peanuts” allow devices to shift within the box and also create static electricity, which could be a real problem depending on what you’re shipping. Similarly, using crushed newspaper may allow ink to bleed onto some surfaces.
Bubble wrap is the ideal solution and can be easily purchased through shipping outlets. Check with your IT department for any guidelines you’ll need to list on the PDF guide regarding what size wrap to use. It’s also helpful to include a few pictures in your PDF of how you should and shouldn’t wrap materials. Emphasize best practices like ensuring that an item’s corners are covered and that the wrap should reach completely around the box.
Using Other Business Services
If you’re shipping new, refurbished or repaired equipment, make full use of drop shipping offerings from vendors. You probably have shipping contracts set up to send everything to a centralized IT office; in an on-premises work environment, this streamlines inventory and delivery. However, in a remote work environment, this can create substantial confusion, waste and drive additional shipping fees. Review shipping policies, requirements and agreements with your IT department and vendors to ensure you’re correctly structuring tech delivery.
Don’t forget to create a tracking system for equipment. Include information about who the equipment was signed out to, each device’s status and any tracking numbers for in-transit tech. If you’re a smaller company without IT tracking software but have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system set up, you can use this to record everything.
When working with components that are sensitive to shock or temperature, consider using packing services from FedEx, UPS or another carrier. For a small fee, the carrier will professionally package the device for you, and you’ll find that there is often increased insurance coverage that might pay for itself.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
Remember that you have multiple shipping avenues to consider: packages can come and go between employees, your IT department, numerous vendors and potentially several links in the supply chain. Proactively outlining common shipping avenues, carriers and requirements like packaging, insurance and paying for postage upfront will save a tremendous amount of pain in the long run.