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Shipping with boxes can be cumbersome and isn’t always necessary. If you ship non-fragile items, how important is it that you ship them in big bulky boxes? Ecommerce shipping requires you to cut costs wherever possible, not corners, and one way to do this is to cut back on high packaging costs. And poly mailers offer a surprisingly affordable alternative to standard packaging while also taking up less space and being easier to pack and ship.
The most significant advantage to bubble and poly mailers is, of course, their affordability. While mailer boxes of a similar size can be as costly as $1.25 or more per unit, even when buying in bulk. Poly mailers, though, are usually only about $0.25 per unit when purchasing in bulk. ShipStation also partners with Onyx Products for shipping supplies like printers and scales.
Boxes, even when collapsed, take up a lot of space. Mailers, on the other hand, take up hardly any. When you get in the rush of packing and start laying out your packaging, recently assembled cardboard boxes can clutter your warehouse floor—sometimes even turning your work area into an annoying obstacle course. Poly mailers stack nicely and don’t require the assembly that boxes do. So you can pack more parcels more quickly.
Some merchants may have a stigma around using something that seems so flimsy. Ultimately, poly mailers are just very economical and are quite commonplace. If you’ve ever ordered from Amazon or Walmart, you’ve likely received a mailer envelope. So, don’t worry about always delivering brown paper packages tied up with string, a few of your favorite things have already been delivered in poly mailers.
Similarly to their affordability, poly mailers are surprisingly easy to customize. ShipStation knows how important the branded shipping experience is, be it a standard shipment or a subscription box. The price point for customizing poly mailers is also substantially lower than customizing boxes. Companies like Stickermule and Ecoenclose let you design custom poly mailers for under a dollar per piece. If you order a high enough volume, they can be less than $0.25 per piece. You simply upload your design, and they’ll print it and ship it to you!
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Durable, pliable items like teeshirts or beanies are perfect candidates for poly mailers. Anything that can be twisted, compacted, or absorb abuse without being damaged are perfect. Think of a poly mailer as more of a good surface to apply a shipping label. Again, this avoids additional handling surcharges or surface stains that could occur during transit. You also want to avoid shipping items that are too rigid in poly mailers. For instance, you wouldn’t want to ship a ninja throwing star in a poly mailer. It could rip the bag or hurt someone—probably both!
While clothing makes a good item for shipping with poly mailers, not all clothes work. You wouldn’t want to ship a winter coat in a poly mailer, or even a pair of jeans. The best contents for poly mailers are usually under 1 lb. Lightweight materials like cotton or silk or wool work best.
Poly mailers are easy to find. You can pick up a pack of them at drug stores or supermarkets like Walgreens or Walmart. But it’s more sensible to buy this item from somewhere like Uline.com. Buying in bulk not only ensures you have enough supplies in the event of an order surge, but it also offers better price breaks in volume.
Bubble mailers offer more cushioning than poly bags. As such, you can ship things like CDs or paperback books in them. Additionally, jewelry and some documents work better in bubble mailers than poly mailers or cardboard mailers. The added cushion makes creases less likely. However, you wouldn’t want to ship vinyl records or hardback books in a bubble mailer. They can still bend and this can cause you to lose a sale. It’s best to use more rigid cardboard boxes for these items.
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When you’re figuring out what package type to select with a mailer—whether its a poly bag, a bubble mailer, etc.—the options can sound very similar. The USPS classifies anything over 1/4 inch thick as a package. And the option “Thick envelope” is ultimately the same thing as a package. If you choose large envelope or another option for these package types, you can expect a billing adjustment to be charged to you or the recipient. When in doubt, provide the parcel dimensions and choose package/thick envelope. The carrier will return the correct shipping rate.
One advantage of mailers over traditional cardboard boxes is that they are very affordable. However, UPS, USPS, and FedEx will offer free shipping materials for certain services.
USPS: USPS offers free packaging for Priority Mail services ONLY. These packaging materials will not work for First Class or Media Mail. Additional charges will likely be added through a billing adjustment or returned to sender.
UPS: UPS offers free supplies for select services and package types. Everything from boxes, mailers, and customs pouches can be available for no additional charge. However, they do require an active account with them.
FedEx: FedEx does offer free shipping supplies. However, like UPS, it does require an active account with FedEx in order to get them.
ShipStation gives you many shipping discounts on a variety of services. For instance, you can save up to 77% on UPS Ground! Additionally, with our import automation processes and wide range of shipping tools, we can save you hours each day on shipping. Whether you’re shipping a teeshirt in a poly bag or a crate of them to a store, we have the resources you need to scale your business’s warehouse fulfillment strategy!
Start a free ShipStation trial today to start saving time and money on shipping!
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