It seems that online shopping is getting bigger every year. In fact, a report from Statista states that e-commerce makes up nearly 20% of total worldwide retail sales, a percentage that is predicted to continue rising in the coming years.
For this reason, online apparel companies need to focus on how to effectively ship their products. While clothing is typically non-fragile, light, and lies flat, there are nonetheless special considerations that must be made when shipping clothes as opposed to other items. We’ve compiled some of the best advice on how to package clothing for shipping, starting with…
Poly Mailers Over Boxes
Boxes are the industry standard. They are easy to use, durable, and can be purchased from nearly anywhere. However, boxes are incredibly wasteful. You will rarely fill them to the brim, instead being left with a bunch of empty space that will drive up your dimensional weight expenses. And even if you find a box that is just big enough for your item, cardboard is a heavy material that will raise your shipping fees regardless.
So how do you save on space without compromising the protection of your goods? You get yourself some poly mailers, of course! These plastic envelopes are strong, lightweight, and lie flat, taking up much less room than traditional boxes. They’re also 100% recyclable. These little mailers can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in shipping fees over the long term.
Now, you may be thinking that you can’t fit as much in a poly mailer as you could in a traditional box, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You just need to measure the dimensions of the items you need to pack, then pick out a poly mailer that’s slightly larger. If you need help figuring out the size of poly mailer that you need, here’s a handy table showing the most commonly packed items for each size of mailer:
If you think you’re going to need a lot of space for packing, consider getting an expansion mailer that features a gusseted, expandable bottom to accommodate large and oddly-shaped items. If you think your shipment of clothes needs extra protection while in transit, purchase a set of poly bubble mailers that have an inner lining of bubble wrap.
For those of you eager to learn more about the advantages that poly mailers have over boxes, be sure to check out our article comparing and contrasting these two types of packaging.
The layout of the package can be just as important as the packaging material you use. You don’t want to just toss your clothes thoughtlessly into the mailer. Not only will the clothing arrive at their destination wrinkled, but it also takes up unnecessary room in the package. Just as your parents told you, you should always fold your clothes. Folded clothing has a neater and more professional appearance and takes up much less space, which goes on to save you money in the long run.
When loading clothes into a poly mailer, place your heavier items, like jeans and sweatshirts, at the bottom of the envelope. Stack lighter and lighter clothes on top, saving the lightest clothing for the top of the stack. By loading the mailer from heavy to light, you prevent your clothes from spilling out when customers open the package. Your customers will appreciate your thoughtful arrangement and attention to detail.
Your sales and packaging won’t mean a thing if you cannot securely ship your clothing. Thankfully, poly mailers feature a tamper-evident, self-sealing adhesive strip on the flap. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to add extra layers of protection. If you’re using staples, you need to make sure the staples are completely clinched, or else shipping companies will refuse to ship them. If you’re using tape, you’ll want to use a robust packing tape with a strong adhesive, like rubber, to ensure it sticks to the low-energy surface of the plastic mailer.
If you think you need even more security for your packaged clothing, seal your mailer with tamper-evident tape. This hot melt tape features a message warning recipients “Caution: If Seal is Broken, Check Contents”, as well as a busy, striped pattern that makes it obvious if the seal is broken. This additional measure of security will help deter vandals and thieves from accessing your goods.
When Boxes Are Appropriate
For all the benefits that poly mailers provide, they still have their limits. Clothing that is expensive, fragile, oddly-shaped, and/or heavy may be better off shipped in a box. If you need to use boxes, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Use protective cushioning, like newspaper or bubble wrap, on the inside of the package to protect the items from any internal damage.
2. Use durable carton sealing tape on the outside of the box to prevent holes or rips in the material.
3. Place tape and bubble wrap around the corners, as these are the most vulnerable spots on a box.
4. Be prepared to pay more in shipping costs, since boxes weigh more than poly mailers.
The Importance of Looks
We have gone over different packaging materials, how to pack them properly, and how to secure them for shipping. However, you would be doing your customers and yourself a disservice by ignoring appearances. Leaving your packages blank is a missed branding opportunity. No matter the packaging you use, you should put your brand’s logo, slogan, and other branding information on it to boost the awareness and recognition of your brand.
And don’t ignore the inside of the package, either. Unboxing videos have become incredibly popular on the internet as millions of people tune in to watch influencers carefully unpackage their items. If you want to cash in on this trend, include some colorful tissue paper or lining to enhance the presentation of the package. Customers will appreciate the extra effort to make their order that much more special.
Finally, think about your shipping label. This is where poly mailers shine, since you can place the label right on the front. Just make sure the information on the label is correct and legible before sticking it on the package and sending it off for shipping. If you’re shipping to new customers, consider including a return label in the package in case they’re unhappy with their purchase.
Who knew so much went into shipping apparel? While clothes are considered non-fragile goods, you nonetheless have to be careful when shipping these items, so they don’t arrive damaged at your customer’s doorstep. Poly mailers will maximize your space and minimize your costs, and you’ll want to ensure the layout of your packaging has heavy items at the bottom and light items on top. You need to make sure your package is properly sealed and secure prior to shipping, but don’t forget to also use the package as an opportunity to market your brand.
This may be a lot to think about, but don’t worry! We at PackagingSuppliesByMail offer a large assortment of packaging supplies, including many kinds of poly mailers. And if that wasn’t enough, we offer free shipping on all bulk orders of packaging supplies. So take your online apparel company to the next level today by ensuring that you’re properly packing your clothes.