In the last week alone, I received 3 packages from Amazon. A hard cover for my laptop which arrived in an Avengers printed corrugated box, rainbow-colored shoelaces and a T-shirt both of which came packaged in Poly Mailers. An ordinary customer like you and I are concerned about getting what we ordered delivered to us without any damage done to the parcel, however when you’re a person working in eCommerce, shipping is a vital part of your business and ensuring that customers get their deliveries in time and in the right way is what ensures that they will keep coming back!
Which is why a lot of thought is put into deciding how items should be stored, packaged, and delivered when running an eCommerce business. Most of the time these businesses leave it up to fulfillment centers to handle the shipping, and their job is to make sure deliveries are being made in the correct way. What is the correct way? You must be thinking. Well for starters, packaging is key and there are many types of packaging solutions that can be used, but the most common ones that you have probably seen a lot of are – Poly Mailers, Bubble Mailers, Cardboard Boxes and Corrugated Boxes. In this article I’m going to explain the difference between these varieties and how each can be used at its best.
Poly Mailers are the most common form of packaging used and seen. Almost everything we receive comes wrapped in plastic/polythene. Poly-Mailers are just that – Polyethylene bags/envelopes. Items that aren’t too fragile and do not have to rely on the packaging to stay protected can be shipped using poly-mailers. Poly mailers are a great cheap alternative to standard packaging options such as boxes, and they also take up less space in terms of storage.
Imagine if you were to ship out or receive a bunch of hoodies, would you rather have it sent to you in a lightweight packaging that resists tears and protects the item from external particles, or have it sent to you in bulky boxes that are unnecessary? To save yourself the trouble of having to break and trash cartons/boxes, you would choose Poly Mailers. For clothing items and other unpackaged items that do not have the risk of bending or piercing through the packaging, Poly-mailers are the best options. They come in many sizes and can be clear, colored or customized according to a company’s brand logo/colors.
So now that you know what a Poly Mailer is, a Bubble-Mailer is just that but with an extra layer of padded protection inside the envelope! Bubble Mailers have all the great characteristics of a Poly-Mailer, but with an added bonus of bubble wrap protection. They are almost as easy to store while saving space and can be customized according to your needs and comes in many sizes. However, they are slightly bulkier, are not stretch proof, and are also on the pricier end than Poly-mailers.
Bubble Mailers are used for items that are not strong enough to go in Poly-Mailers and not fragile enough to go in cartons. So, if you are shipping items that have a sharp, angled edge or those that can be semi-fragile and need an extra layer of protection, Bubble Mailers your guy. And when thinking in an end customer’s perspective, it’s better to receive semi- fragile items in a bubble mailer rather than a carton that is full of bubble wrap or packing peanuts (which will also create a mess).
Fragile and/or bigger items such as dinnerware are usually packaged in boxes. These boxes are often mistaken for cardboard boxes, but the correct term is corrugated boxes, and they are a broadly used packaging, storage and shipping solution. Corrugated boxes also come handy for retail packaging and display options, and any other function that requires a lightweight yet hard wearing material. Poly and bubble mailers are extensively used for shipping small to medium items but there are some jobs only sturdy boxes can do.
Corrugated boxes are made from linerboard on the sides and a wavy fluted paper in the middle creating layers that strengthen the board and allows it to be the most reliable packaging solution by enduring severe wear and tear. Corrugated boxes vary in sizes, shapes and even sturdiness, which depends on the number of layers of fluted paper and linerboard. They are very easy to customize and brand, and the durability of the boxes and its strength may vary depending on the item that is being shipped/stored.
Corrugated boxes stay intact even with rain, heavy falls or scratches. While no box is indestructible, corrugated offers a greater level of guarantee that your products will move from the starting to end point in great condition.
A comparison between the three of these packaging solutions is tough, as each are most suitable and appropriate for specific categories and sizes of products. A corrugated box will be the best choice when shipping a wall mirror, but a Bubble mailer would be incompetent to do so no matter how large in size.
- Lightweight and space saver
- Customizable, many sizes
- Minimal protection
- Can be punctured easily
- Soft Toys
- Extra protection
- Can hold heavy items
- Higher shipping costs than mailers
- Time to make and break boxes
- Dinner set
Where to buy
Shipping and eCommerce companies can purchase Poly-mailers, Bubble Mailers and Corrugated Boxes in bulk from companies that sell these supplies. Uline is widely known among shipping and eCommerce firms for their vast variety of shipping supplies and custom branded labels and packaging. Other places to bulk buy shipping supplies are esupplystore, International Paper, Shipping Supply, Global Industrial, Lumi and so on.
Customized or designed Poly-mailer and bubble-mailers are available in many online stores, and they can be bought in packs of up to 50. Etsy and Amazon are two commonly used sites for designed, eye catching and decorative packaging supplies.