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With Shipping Charges Set to Soar, Polybags Replace Boxes — But They Pose Challenges, Too

In preparing for the price increase, Other World Computing experienced benefits not just in shipping costs but also in the price tag for shipping materials.

(Boonton, NJ, October 30, 2014) — Many items shipped by Other World Computing leave the distribution center not in boxes but in polybags.

The distributor of computer parts and accessories shifted to polybags in part to circumvent price increases by UPS and FedEx, which will move to so-called dimensional-weight pricing in late December.

Other World Computing shows that DCs can find solutions to the UPS and FedEx price hikes that loom in the coming months. But switching from boxes to polybags isn’t necessarily a seamless transition, warns Tim Kraus, an expert on sortation and conveyors at Intelligrated.

For many DCs, handling polybags could require an investment in technology. That’s because many sortation and conveyor systems are designed to handle rectangles but not oddly shaped bags, which can be invisible to a system’s photo eye.

Such problems aren’t insurmountable, but they certainly complicate the decision of moving to polybags.

But Kraus and Other World Computing’s Ryan O’Connor agree that now is the time for a serious discussion about how much of your product could be shipped in bags instead of boxes.

“Companies that aren’t reacting to this now,” O’Connor says, “are going to be in for a shock come January.”

More on Other World Computing’s shift to polybags, plus tips rom packaging expert Jack Ampuja appear in the November issue of Distribution Center Management.

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