Packaging Quality Control: What Should be on Your Checklist?

by | Jul 8, 2020 | Packaging, Product Inspections, Quality Control

If you don’t have good quality packaging for your products, you can be setting yourself up for failure — even if your products are well made.

Imagine that you’ve put the time, money, and effort into ensuring that your products meet all quality and compliance standards. You’ve conducted lab tests to verify that they contain no harmful chemicals. You’ve conducted third-party inspections to confirm that they look good, are functional, and meet all physical requirements.

Then your order ships from overseas — and your packaging has failed.

Maybe the cartons were crushed or damaged during shipping. Perhaps they don’t have the right assortment of products — or maybe the country of origin markings are illegible and your order is being held up at customs.

There are many ways that you can run into trouble with packaging.

That’s why it’s so important to include the right packaging checks on your QC checklist. Doing this helps ensure that your products get to their destination in the condition you expect.

Here we cover some important packaging checks that you should consider including on your inspection checklist.

7 Packaging Quality Control Checks to Consider

When you conduct a pre-shipment, dupro, or other quality inspection, your inspection checklist serves as a guide for the inspector. (See Quality Inspection Checklists: How to Create Them)

It’s important to keep in mind that — regardless of how meticulous the inspector is — if an item is not on the checklist, they most likely won’t check for it. That’s why you need to be sure that the checklist reflects your needs with regard to packaging.

Here are some checklist items that you should consider.

#1 – Shipping Marks are Clear and Legible on the Outer Carton

All handling marks, consignee marks, carton numbers, size & weight markings, and country of origin markings should match the information in your purchase order.

Note: If your shipping marks are not legible, this can lead to many problems — for example, your carton might be unrecognizable, it might be mishandled, or it might not get delivered to the correct location. Learn more about Shipping Marks.

#2 – Correct Assortment and Number of Units

The number of units in each retail carton and the number of retail cartons per master carton should match your specifications. The assortment of products should be correct as well. Otherwise, you will run into issues once the shipment gets to your retailer.

#3 – Package Printing, Material, Contents, Size, and Color All Match Your Sample

It is important that you have a signed sample of your packaging and that you’ve specified all the above details. Material and printing should be verified, packaging should be measured, and colors should match your Pantone color specifications.

Note: When you are working with multiple manufacturers, it’s important that all packaging matches when it’s sitting on retail shelves. When different packages from different shipments are sitting on a shelf and consumers are looking at them, there should be no discernible difference. Specifying Pantone colors becomes extra important here. Learn more about Pantone Colors.

#4 – Package is Sealed Completely Using the Appropriate Methods

The structural integrity of your cartons needs to be verified, including sealing methods (i.e. tape), binding methods (i.e. glue), and strapping methods (i.e. nylon band). Do not neglect to specify these methods — include this item on your checklist. Otherwise, your packaging is less likely to survive the journey overseas.

#5 – Carton Drop Test

To conduct a carton drop test, a carton is held up at a specific height, which is determined by how heavy it is. It is then dropped multiple times and from different angles to ensure that the retail packaging and products inside do not get damaged.

Note: Carton drop tests allow you to simulate rough handling during the shipping process. Assuming that you have specified packaging that is strong enough to withstand the journey overseas, your carton should be able to pass this test. Learn more about Carton Drop Tests.

#6 – Barcodes and Labeling are Clear, Legible, and Accurate

The UPC label on the carton should match your purchase order information, should scan correctly — and the UPC code on the product should scan correctly as well. The barcode should not be too close to the edge of the sticker and should not be creased or damaged. Otherwise, you will be more likely to encounter unwanted difficulties during transportation.

#7 – Pallet Packaging Matches Specification

If you are shipping with pallets, you should generally have pallet specifications and the pallets should be checked to ensure that they match your spec.

Note: The importance of developing clear and comprehensive product and packaging specifications cannot be understated. All specifications should be included as an addendum to your purchase order — this helps to ensure clarity and that nothing is missed by your suppliers. Learn more about How to Write a Good Purchase Order.

Keep This in Mind About Packaging QC

Many importers do not put enough emphasis on packaging inspection. It’s important to realize that the quality of your packaging is just as important as the quality of your products.

Good quality packaging helps ensure that your products make it to their destination unharmed. It also helps provide a better experience for your customers and the end consumer. You should provide clear specifications for packaging and be sure those specifications meet your needs.

If you’re hiring a third-party inspection company to check the quality of your products, packaging checks should be a part of the inspection. Be sure that the checks they conduct reflect the needs of your situation.

Work collaboratively with the service provider to develop a good inspection checklist. This way you can ensure the success of your product inspections.

To learn more about how to prepare for your inspections, we recommend that you download the following white paper.

How to Prepare for a Quality Inspection

Are you thinking of hiring a third-party inspection company?

If so, you need to be properly prepared. No one knows your product better than you do. So, make sure you give your service provider the information they need to ensure that your inspections are a success.

Download this free guide to successfully preparing for your product inspections.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any questions about the article? Is there something else you’d like to add? Leave a comment below.

Andy Church

Founder & CEO, Insight Quality Services


  1. Sam Evans

    Thank you so much for publishing such a beautiful article which I have learned a lot from watching. From here I have learned how to control the packaging quality. You have explained it very nicely. Your article is very informative. Thank you very much.

  2. Delia Porras

    Hello, Thank you for your article. To perform in-process verification during a packaging process of bottles ( supplements), do I have to check 1 to 3 bottles each 15 minutes in each station ( filling, capping desiccant outer, label), or do I have to take the 3 samples each 15 minutes at the end of the line and then remove the outer seal, the cap, the neckband, for checking the count, desiccant, etc.) I’m losing components ( caps); what is the correct way to perform this sampling, during the line or at the end?
    Thank you

    • Insight Team

      Inspection procedures can be customized to address specific issues as in your case. For example, if count is consistently found to vary then conducting a count and verifying the number of capsules could be conducted after filling and before capped and sealed. This would be more efficient and reduce packaging waste. Conducting an inspection at the end of the production process would allow the inspection of all the various elements and not sure verification of the count.


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