Last week I saw that Yankee Candle was having a 2-for-$20 sale on their 2008 jar candles (normally over $20 each) so I ordered a few. When they arrived, they were packaged like this:
It has slots for six candles when I only ordered two! Two thirds of that box is completely empty.
You’re telling me that they don’t have a box for two or four candles? Six is their smallest for anything more than one (that’s assuming they have a box for one, which might be a bit presumptuous on my part). Does this make any sense to anyone?
To the best of my knowledge, all shipping companies charge based on weight, volume, and destination. At least that’s how FedEx does it for us. Why would you want to increase your volume by 200% when it’s not necessary? Compared to a company like us that has ~120 different dimensions for our products, I’d imagine that candles are pretty standard and therefore it wouldn’t be too hard to pick boxes for common sized orders. It would seem obvious to have boxes for one, two, four, and eight candles.
And this isn’t just Yankee Candle. We’ve noticed that one of our main competitors only has a handful of box sizes as well. A local e-commerce company that George worked for in college does the same thing.
Obviously we do the exact opposite. We carry something like thirty different box sizes, using our box size system to correctly pick the box that will provide the most snug fit for each order. We figure that this drastically minimizes both our total volume shipped and the amount of packing peanuts used as space filler. Less packing means we can pack the packages faster. It also seems pretty obvious that a tightly packed box protects the items better than a box that’s 75% packing peanuts. The only real potential downside is box cost: some of our boxes cost a few cents more than others, and by diversifying we are slower to hit higher discount tiers. To us though, those few cents per box are easily saved in packing material and shipping costs, not to mention that – on a grander scale – it just seems wasteful to ship a box that’s 2/3 empty.
Anyway, I can only come up with a few theories for this inexplicable phenomenon:
- Companies are completely lazy and never thought about it.
- Companies are striking flat-rate per-package deals with their shippers and it doesn’t matter how big their boxes are.
- Companies are getting their standardized boxes and packing material at extreme discounts from their suppliers, so much so that it’s cheaper to buy a few standard boxes for less and stuff them with extra packing material, even if the shipping costs are higher.
- A combination of 2 and 3, which is the most logical but also seems unlikely.