Learn how cartonization works and if it's right for you.

Zonos uses cartonization to determine shipping costs based on box sizes rather than item dimensions or weights. Our system utilizes your shipping box sizes to fit items into the smallest feasible box based on their weight and dimensions.

It's important to note that while cartonization helps refine your shipping cost quote by suggesting the smallest box that your items would fit into, it does not dictate the box you must use. Cartonization provides a guideline based on item dimensions, but it's ultimately up to you to select the actual box you want to ship your product(s) in. This approach ensures that cartonization serves its purpose - to aid in cost estimation and streamline the fulfillment process without imposing rigid packaging constraints.

Cartonization offers numerous benefits, including lowering shipping expenses by selecting practical box sizes that align with carriers' dimensional weight calculations. Additionally, it automates packaging, which enhances warehouse productivity and leads to quicker order fulfillment. The process also optimizes material usage, reducing costs and waste by using appropriately-sized boxes.

How it works 

Cartonization uses smart packaging algorithms to efficiently pack items. Upon checkout, our system evaluates the available shipping box (packagingOption) sizes, along with their maximum weight and dimensions, as well as the weight and dimensions of the items. It then strategically arranges the items into the smallest feasible shipping boxes. Shipping costs are determined based on the dimensional weight of the boxes or the physical weight of the items, whichever is greater.

Cartonization flow

Here is an overview of the cartonization process:

  1. Initial verification: The Cartonization service will first verify that the needed information has been passed in via the rootId. It will check that a Party ORIGIN and DESTINATION have been provided, along with items and their dimensions.

  2. Packaging options compilation: All existing packagingOptions for an organization will be compiled into a list for use. If the organization does not have any packagingOptions, the default Zonos option will be used.

  3. Unit of measure verification: The service will verify that all items to be shipped have the same unit of measure. If they don’t, it will convert the values to be consistent.

  4. Shipping items alone: Once items are verified, the system checks if any items need to be shipped alone. If an item is marked as shipsAlone but lacks dimensions, the shipsAlone flag will be set to false, and the item will be treated as normal.

  5. Packing items that ship alone: shipsAlone items will be packed into indivicual cartons. If no existing cartons fit, they will be packed into dynamic cartons.

  6. Packaging and cartonizing: The system then packages and cartonizes all items. If all items fit into the selected packagingOption, the system attempts to cartonize them again in a smaller packagingOption to maximize efficiency. This process repeats until all items fit into cartons and are accounted for.

  7. Handling Oversized Items: If an item is too big for any of the packaging options, a dynamic carton will be created for it.

  8. Completion:After all items are packed into cartons, the list of cartons is returned, and the cartonization process is complete.

Packaging options 

Cartonization efficiently packs items into packaging options (boxes, poly bags, etc.) to ensure the smallest possible box size is used. By providing Zonos with packaging options, you allow us to use these specified options to cartonize your items. In the absence of specific packaging options, the default Zonos box size of 8x4x2 is applied. Should your items be too large for this default size, we dynamically create packaging options based on the item's weight and dimensions. However, if neither weight nor dimensions are provided, we will revert to using the default Zonos 8x4x2 box size.

If an item can’t be fit into an existing packagingOption, it will be packed into a dynamic carton.

Dynamic cartons are created by taking the item dimensions and creating a packagingOption specifically to fit that item. For example, if we have an item that is 3.2 x 4 x 7.8, the dynamic carton will look at the length, width, and height and round them up to the nearest whole number. The dynamic carton created for this option would be 4 x 4 x 8.

Any partial numbers will be rounded up regardless.

Frequently asked questions 

Is there a buffer between the item(s) and the carton?

No. E.g., if an item is 8x8x8, it can be placed in an 8x8x8 box.

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