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Choosing Between Mailers And Shipping Boxes

Time to read 8 min

What Is The Difference Between Shippers And Mailers?

The main distinction is the materials required. Mailers use far less paper and glue than Shipping Boxes. A Mailer is a more sustainable choice than a shipper if it provides adequate protection. It also has an effect on postage charges. Flat-rate postage rates for Mailers are available through the USPS, FedEx, UPS, and some e-commerce companies.

This means shippers will cost you more for postage than similar-size Mailers. But it's not all bad for shipping boxes! In fact, there are many instances when they should be the shipping method you choose.

Shippers are typically far more durable than mailers. Because they have a heavy-duty corrugated fiberboard box construction, shippers can often be reused several times for shipping several packages before needing to be recycled.

Choosing Between Mailers And Shipping Boxes

Depending on the size of your business, budget, and shipping frequency, it's  pretty easy to determine when you should use one or the other.

  1. How much protection do you need? Mailers typically use less paper and glue than shipping boxes, but may not provide as much protection. So if you have fragile items, think twice unless it's small enough for bubble wrap.
  2. How often will the package be shipped? Shipping boxes can often be reused several times, but mailers are best for one-time shipments. Think through the use of your packaging from start to finish.
  3. What is the size and weight of the product or package? Shipping boxes typically cost more to ship than mailers, but can hold more weight and are larger in size. But shipping heavier items in mailers can be challenging.
  4. How much is your budget? Shipping boxes will cost you more per box and per shipment, but if you can capture that in the cost of the item it isn't an issue.
  5. What is your shipping frequency? Think about how much you need to pack these shipments, and walk through using a mailer and a shipping box. Time how long it takes to pack. Which is faster or easier?

Those five questions should help you determine which packaging option is right for you.

When To Use Mailers

Now that you've worked through those questions and determined a Mailer is right for you, let's walk through a few key items.

Shipping Small Items

If your products fit safely inside the Mailer without additional packing materials, then you're in luck!  These are typically the most economical size for sending through the mail.

If you sell smaller items, then Mailers are a great choice.

Remember, these are just suggestions. If you have a package that won't work with a single mailer, contact us and we'll let you know how to best pack it.

Packing Your Mailers

Underfill: Add at least two inches of cushioning between the product and bottom of the mailer (like popcorn). Fill gaps with crumpled paper or bubble wrap. This makes sure there is no shifting in transit and protects from minor damage like dents during shipment.

Don't overstuff your Mailer.  If your product isn't packed securely, it will shift during shipment and become damaged.

Tape It Up! Make sure to seal up all open seams with packaging tape so the product won't fall out or leak during transport. If you are using a Mailer made of corrugated cardboard, this is especially important. You can also use clear packing tape on brown kraft mailers.

What Size Mailer Should I Use?

Whether you need a small Mailer or a large one, it comes down to your product. You want to be as efficient as possible, but there can be weight restrictions due to the material you use.

The two most popular materials are Kraft Mailers and Poly Mailers. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

Small Mailer - Great for small items up to six pounds in weight.

Medium Mailer - Perfect for shipping lighter items up to ten pounds in weight.

Large Mailers - This heavy-duty box is the largest size that can be sent through USPS and UPS Ground with an affordable package price.

How Many Mailers Do I Need?

Take a look at your order frequency, and do the math to order enough mailers to cover your 2 month order period at least. You want to keep enough inventory on hand, but you don't want to spend too much up front.

Be wary of running out, because there's nothing worse than not having enough mailers to ship your products. And having to make a rush order will increase the costs.

Consider finding a program that helps track all of your inventory and orders, and send alerts when you need more.

Shipping Rates With USPS, FedEX, UPS

FedEx, UPS, and occasionally USPS began accounting for dimensional weight (often known as "dim weight") in addition to the actual weight of shipments in 2015. Volumetric divisors vary per carrier, and they can alter at any time. Carriers also have their own set of requirements for DIM shipping packages. As a result, verify with your insurance provider for the most up-to-date coverage.

Whichever weight is higher will be charged. To illustrate both ends of the spectrum, if you're shipping a huge canvas print that only weights a few pounds, you'll be charged for the dimensional weight. Or if you're shipping a heavy metal trinket, you'll be charge for the weight.

When transporting items of varied sizes, mailers are more forgiving, and they require less cushioning and packaging materials on the inside. They also require less production time. Unlike shipping boxes, which need assembling, taping, and packing, mailers just require packing, peeling, and sticking. That translates to less time, less money, and a quicker response for your consumers.

We love shipping boxes and use them all the time, but when mailers are a viable alternative, they're a far more cost-effective and efficient solution. They also look great, especially when they're personalized.

When To Use Shipping Boxes

Okay, after looking at those questions you've decided that a shipping box is what you need. Let's walk through a few key items about them.

Shipping Fragile Items

If you're shipping fragile items, like glassware, Mailers are not recommended. Nothing is worse than a product arriving to your customer shattered in pieces.

These items require more careful packaging than mailers offer. Please refer to the next section for more information on how to properly package fragile items in a box.

Make sure to add packing material to your box to keep your products secure. This could be extra kraft paper, bubble wrap, hexacomb, or something else. It will add to your budget, so make sure to plan out the entire supply chain.

Custom Shipping Boxes

Maybe you're looking to increase your branding experience with customers. You could make custom branded boxes with your logo on it to stand out. Not to mention shippers are made of corrugated, which is extremely recyclable.

Mailers allow for some customization, but they're much cheaper when you keep them plain. The same is true for shippers, but they allow for a lot of customization that even makes the box more efficient. Which can help you save on shipping.

More Information: Choosing Between Custom Shipping Boxes And Stock Boxes

Shipping Heavier Items

Due to the weight restrictions of mailers, you might be forced to use a shipping box for your products. The weight impacts your shipping rates, but the most important part is to keep your products safe.

The heavier your products are, the sturdier design you need for your shipping boxes. This will ensure your products do not move inside of the package during transit.

The last thing you want is for one of your products to be damaged because it shifted during shipping. It might break another item, or even puncture a hole in the box. That's why so many companies choose to use custom boxes when shipping larger items. As always, think about safety first! It's worth increasing your budget to get the proper design and material for heavy shipments.

Shipping Large Items

The primary reason that companies choose shipping boxes is when their products are too large for the standard mailers which are manufactured by USPS and FedEX.

If you're shipping within the United States, then it's highly recommended to use USPS Priority Mail or FedEx Ground instead of UPS because they can offer better rates than UPS even when factoring in dimensional weight. For international shipments, always use small sized rectangular shipping boxes whenever possible. It will save you money in both shipping and production costs for custom-size boxes.

It's important to use the right size box when moving your products. If your item is small enough for a mailing envelope, then it probably won't fit inside of most boxes unless they are oversized boxes (which cost considerably more).

How Many Boxes Do I Need?

There are some instances where by doubling up on boxes you can save money. The more shipping boxes you order, the more of a discount you will get. So if you can plan your supply chain, you'll find more savings.

You always want to keep enough boxes on hand to send products to customers for a 2-3 month period. If you don't have space to store the shipping boxes, you may need to invest in space to do so.

What Size Box Should I Use?

Choosing a shipping method for you business will impact a lot of your operations. Everything from the costs and margin, to the production time needed to assemble products and ship them. That means you should take the time to do some research before making a decision.

In order to ship your products effectively, it's important that the product is packaged securely in an appropriate container. A shipper box offers better protection for your items than mailers. Because of this, it costs more to use a Shipper Box on USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate service.

To determine what size box you will need, measure both length and width of each side of the item you plan to ship. Next add these numbers together and multiply by 2 (for a total of 4 measurements). This will give you the minimum interior dimensions needed for your Shipper Box.

Get Custom Packaging Solutions With Bennett!

When it comes to shipping products, you want to make sure that they are properly protected during transit. This means using the right size box and adding packing material to keep them from moving around inside. If your items are too large for a mailer, you will need to use a shipping box. The most important thing is to make sure that your products are safe during transport.

At Bennett, we can help you choose the right packaging solution for your needs and provide you with the custom boxes you require. Let us help you get your products safely to their destination! Contact us today for a custom quote.