The 5 Stages of Dealing with Oversized Shipping Boxes

Dealing with an oversized package can be tough. Although all of us have dealt with this situation at some point or another in our lives, it can be difficult to empathize with someone who is currently going through that process. Sadly, that process often involves searching for the product they ordered in a sea of bubble wrap and packing peanuts.

Empathy can be especially difficult if the person in question is one of your customers.

It is with this in mind that we present to you the 5 stages a customer goes through when receiving an oversized package.

As a case study, we will be using photos of a baby changing pad that was sent to the office for one of our coworkers who is pregnant with her first child. The online retailer shall remain unnamed.

[Warning: Smart phone pics not taken by a professional photographer incoming]

Stage 1: Denial

We don’t have a photo of this stage, but it’s that moment when you see a large box on your porch and can’t help but wonder:

“Did I order that? It looks too big to be that changing pad I ordered…it does have my name on it though….”

Stage 2: Confusion

Box with filler material

It’s at this moment your customer wonders, “Is there a product in there? I can’t tell—there’s all this ugly paper in the way.”

When one of your customers has your products shipped to them, you never want this to be the first thing they see when they open the box.

Depending on how environmentally conscious your customer is, they may also experience frustration if the void filler you used was made from unsustainable materials such as polystyrene (Styrofoam) or polyethylene (air pillows and bubble wrap).

Stage 3: Anger
box without filler material

It’s at this moment when the customer realizes that they have been shipped a product really inefficiently, and that they will have to deal with disposing of lots of wasted packing materials. The customer may not understand the complexities of your supply chain or the packaging solutions you’ve employed, but they do know they could have done a better job packaging the product themselves.

They may wonder, “Why does a cardboard box need to be inside a much larger cardboard box? We’re shipping products here, not building Russian nesting dolls! Now I’m going to have to make room in my trash bin for all that paper and corrugated cardboard.”

Stage 4: Transitioning

contoured changing pad


It’s at this point that your customer’s feelings will go one of two ways: relief that the product arrived, or depressed because the product arrived damaged. Damaged products are more likely to happen when there is unnecessary empty space in a package, and can cause extremely strong feelings towards your brand that may not be repairable.

“Well at least the product is here in one piece.”

Stage 5: Acceptance

guy inside a box


Acceptance is often confused with being “all right” with receiving an oversized package. This is not the case. Depending on how egregious the packaging was, your customer may have permanent negative feelings towards your packaging system and your brand as a whole.

However, they do learn to move on with their lives by finding a way to dispose of the pile of trash that came from the package. Perhaps they recycle it, perhaps they let their cat play with it. Or perhaps they wonder if a box that shipped a product meant for a baby can fit a full-grown adult it in.

Whatever the case may be, we need to recognize that the best way to help our customers out is to not send them an oversized box in the first place.

This may be a good time to look into a packaging solution that uses custom cardboard boxes. Packsize can help you out with that by providing a machine that produces a right-sized box at exactly the moment you need it.

If you would like to learn more about how to help your customers overcome the five stages of oversized box grief, fill out the form below.

[Author’s note: As the fully-grown adult appearing to comfortably fit inside a box meant to ship a product intended for a baby, I would like to point that although I am not a large person, I am in fact taller than Lil’ Wayne, Tom Cruise, and Jon Stewart.]


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