For e-commerce businesses, packaging is a significant expense. Consequently, the choices you make regarding the materials you use can have a big impact on profitability. Two popular options are padded envelopes and boxes. Which is the better choice for your operation? That depends on a number of factors.
Padded Mailers vs. Boxes: The Advantages and Disadvantages
In order to decide whether you get greater ROI from padded mailers or boxes when it comes to shipping your merchandise, you must first consider the pros and cons of each. From there you can determine which characteristics will have the biggest impact on your shipping process and make your choice.
However, before you decide which form fits your specific need you must take into account what you are shipping in the first place. If you find that your operation is shipping more textiles, then the option toward mailers is a smart and logical one. If, on the other hand, your operation is shipping breakable merchandise, then the option for box packaging with the proper internal void fill is critical to the customer experience and the likelihood that you may win the next purchase from that customer.
The advantages of padded mailers include that they are:
- Lightweight. This means that generally they cost less to ship.
- Inexpensive. Padded mailers tend to be competitively priced.
- Produced with built-in item protection. Because they are padded, these mailers may not need any additional structural support.
- Speed of packaging – In a business that counts on every second to get as many packages mailed, padded mailers pack out very quickly.
- Small. Padded mailers take up less space when they are shipped to you by the manufacturer, which can result in cost savings. Plus, they take up less space in your warehouse or packing station.
Like all types of packaging materials, padded mailers have disadvantages as well, including that they are:
- Susceptible to crushing. While the padding provides a certain level of protection, padded mailers and their contents can be crushed if they wind up under a heavy box or pressed between boxes.
- Easily torn or punctured. Padding does not prevent padded mailers from being torn or punctured and having their contents damaged. They also provide little protection from liquids.
- Not recyclable. For companies focused on sustainability, that fact that padded mailers can’t be recycled can be an issue.
- Unable to accommodate large items. While you can buy fairly large padded envelopes, there are still many types of items that are too large to fit into even the biggest size.
- Not designed to handle heavy items. Padded mailers that contain heavy items are prone to tearing.
- Best at holding one item at a time. Shipping more than one item in a padded mailer increases the risk that one or both will be damaged.
The advantages of boxes include that they are:
- Strong. Corrugated cardboard boxes in particular are very sturdy.
- Designed to hold heavy items. Especially when sealed with water-activated tape (WAT), boxes can be used to safely ship weighty merchandise, such as automotive aftermarket parts.
- Reusable and recyclable. Cardboard boxes can be used multiple times and then ultimately recycled.
- Available in many sizes. From very small to very large, there is a box to meet most shipping needs.
- Ideal for shipments that include multiple items. With the right padding, many items can be shipped in one box.
The disadvantages of boxes include that they:
- Typically cost more than padded mailers. Boxes tend to be more expensive.
- Typically cost more to ship than padded mailers. This is especially true when dimensional weight pricing is used.
- Require padding. To ensure merchandise is protected when you ship it in boxes you must wrap items and fill voids.
- Take up more space. Boxes are rigid, bulkier, and harder to store.
There are many instances when either a padded mailer or a box will work equally well. However, in others, it clearly makes sense to use one or the other. Taking the time to make these determinations will pay off in the long run. Remember as you do your assessment to consider the cost of handling returns and providing refunds when merchandise is damaged.
In situations that call for a box, WAT is the right choice for sealing the carton. Strong, tamper-resistant, and brandable, it provides the functionality e-commerce retailers need and creates a polished, professional look.
Likewise, in situations where mailers or padded mailers are the right choice, finding a reliable source of well-designed and secure mailers is critical. The rate of use is increasing daily and your operation cannot afford to be slowed or stalled for lack of packaging materials and suppliers.
To learn more about our water-activated tape, water-activated tape dispensers, and other products, please contact us at your convenience.