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5 ways to save money with letterbox packaging

No Comments    |        |    February 19, 2023    |    Reading time 6 minutes
Picture of Letterbox Friendly Packaging being posted throgh a UK sized letterbox

In 2014, MacFarlane Packaging announced that they’d developed the first range of packaging specifically designed to be letterbox friendly. They maintained that this type of packaging was the way forward if businesses truly wanted to exploit the intersection between e-commerce and the packaging industry. Such an approach, MacFarlane stated, would be vital for customer satisfaction and environmental sustainability and therefore, ultimately, business success.

MacFarlane’s decision to focus on letterbox friendly packaging was a reaction to a report by One Poll Market Research. The report was put together on MacFarlane’s behalf, following a survey conducted to better understand the frustrations of e-commerce consumers. The report clearly demonstrated that a significant number of customers – roughly 21% in fact - were irritated and annoyed when they received items in boxes that were unnecessarily big and which they felt, could, in fact, have fitted through a standard UK letterbox.

Since MacFarlane’s announcement in 2014, the words letterbox friendly, cost-effective, convenient and environmentally friendly have featured heavily in articles written by every man and his dog giving advice on packaging to e-commerce businesses. So, let’s take a closer look at why MacFarlane's predictions have proved right time and time again and why letterbox friendly packaging continues to be a delivery method that’s economical, secure and suitable for a multitude of products from wine bottles (yes really) to flowers, chocolate brownies and everything in between.

Here are our top five reasons why an e-commerce business will make significant cost savings today if they choose letterbox friendly packaging.

1. Letterbox Packaging Lowers Delivery Costs

Zero emissions delivery, letterbox sized packaging uses less resources and saves money on postal tariffs

It’s pretty irrefutable that if a company is able to use letter-box friendly packaging for their products, delivery costs will be significantly lower. By enabling shipping companies to post a package through a letterbox, an e-commerce business ensures that their shipping agent doesn’t have to wait around for a signature, nor do they have to take the time and trouble to re-schedule a delivery if a customer isn’t at home. These factors alone amount to huge savings, quite aside from the fact that a package able to be posted through a letterbox is immediately safe and secure, a big plus for satisfactory order fulfilment and peace of mind.

2. Letterbox Friendly Packaging Reduces Packaging Costs

Image of Letterbox sized postal packaging next to a pile of money to demonstrate that Letterbox Friendly Packaging Reduces Packaging Costs

Packaging costs will be lower. Items can be despatched in packaging of an appropriate size both for the standard letter box (254mm by 38 mm or 10 inches by 1.5) and the product. Less space taken up in transit and less waste in terms of packaging materials (including void fill like paper wrapping, air bags, etc.) means money saved in the short term and the long run. Additional bonus: a box specifically designed to be letter box and product friendly, for example, our own little FlyPak, will mean being able to dispense with padding, bubble wrap and packaging peanuts altogether.

3. Letterbox Packaging Lowers Environmental Cost

Picture of giant footprints in an aerial view of a forest to represent carbon footprint

Sustainability is a buzz word in the packaging industry and so it should be. The good news is that lower packaging costs (see above) also translate directly to lower environmental costs because less space taken up in transit and fewer delivery attempts, as well as appropriate packaging materials, not only means a reduction in terms of monetary output, but it also means less in terms of carbon footprint and environmental damage. And let's not forget that lower environmental cost also means increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Letterbox Friendly Packaging Reduces Consumer Frustration

Happy customer holding a letterbox sized package. Letterbox Friendly Packaging Reduces Consumer Frustration

Items able to be posted through letterboxes means - as MacFarlane pointed out all those years ago – far happier customers, obviously because a person no longer to go to the trouble of being at home for a package to be delivered. Consequently, the number of parcels left unsecured on the front porch or next door can be significantly reduced. Far less banging on a neighbour’s door after work and engaging in small talk and far fewer occasions waiting in between the hours of 7a.m. and 10p.m. only to miss the delivery person when you nip out for twenty minutes to do the school run all to find that the item mummified in ten layers of bubble wrap and six metres of paper could, in fact, had it been appropriately packaged, have been stuck through the letterbox. Few things irritate a consumer more.

Don’t get us wrong. If an item requires a bigger box, that’s fine. All’s fair, in love and packaging. However, what incenses consumers are unnecessary, outlandishly sized boxes that are wasteful and cause unnecessary hassle. Have a look at some of the examples here, if you want to see some historical and humorous packaging fails which both frustrated consumers and displayed a lack of environmental awareness. Yes, they're funny, but they do illustrate this point nicely.

5. Letterbox Friendly Packaging leads to business Innovation

There are companies out there who could never have imagined that they’d be able to use letterbox packaging to their advantage. However, with innovative thinking, they’ve managed it and managed it incredibly well. The reason they’ve done this is because the cost implications of letterbox friendly packaging are so advantageous (see reasons one to three) and crucially, consumers continue to prefer it (see reason four).

It's worth noting that some companies, instead of discarding this means of delivery as being wrong for their product, have looked at things from a fresh angle: the product itself. If it doesn't fit through a letterbox, could it perhaps be modified? This is exactly the approach that Garçon wines took in 2019 to their great advantage, no mean feat when you consider that their wine was originally delivered in the original way, i.e., in cylindrical glass (and therefore fragile) bottles.

But Garçon are not alone, more and more companies are following suit, finding ways to evolve their products so they become letterbox friendly and their businesses and customers can reap the rewards. Design and innovation have also allowed companies who might not necessarily have thought of themselves as ‘e-commerce’ to justifiably enjoy a slice of the e-commerce pie. 

If so many businesses have proved themselves serious by going to the trouble of evolving their products so that they can be posted through a letterbox, that’s a major sign that it’s something that's here for the long haul. And in a post Covid world, where we’ve grown ever more used to shopping online, it makes sense.

Take subscription boxes, for example, which continue to be very popular. Some brands, like Bloom and Wild, have built their whole identity on the fact that their product can fit through a letterbox. Primarily, after all, it was their ability to deliver their product because of its packaging that got them known and while it's their product that keeps customers going back to them time and time again, theirs was a bold and brave strategy that got that product noticed in the first place. Even more importantly though, their strategy made sense, for the business, the product and the customer.

Gifting services are seeing sense too. These days, a plethora of presents can be selected at the click of a button and delivered hassle-free to a recipient, whatever their age, the occasion or location. Gifts can still be highly personalised and thoughtful, be they pampering, edible, decorative or hobby-based, but the gift-giver doesn’t have to wrap them, pack them or deliver them. Options exist for every budget and they're speedy to organise with none of the boring logistics to consider – apart from having to get up off the sofa to fetch your purse/wallet so you can enter your a credit card number. Plus, the choices are endless and the decision-making process is fun for the gift-giver, because someone else has done the hard work, taking care of research, reviews and curation and someone else will do the hard work in terms of packaging and delivery.

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So, there you have it. Four reasons why letterbox friendly packaging can save you money, and one reason why you might want to consider it for your product in order to make money, even if your product hasn’t traditionally been the kind to be stuck through a letterbox. 

If you're interested in how The Packaging Club can help your product slide through that hole in the door and fall gently onto the mat of a million homes, click here. Alternatively, give us a call today. We’d love to hear from you and we're just as friendly as our letterbox packaging.

This article was written by...

Jo Hilton

I studied at the University of St. Andrews and have an MA in French and German. For a number of years, I worked for a Swiss financial institution and lived in Hamburg, London, Zürich and NYC before retraining as a primary school teacher and settling with my family in Cambridgeshire. When I'm not at school, I write content for various blogs and edit academic research articles for clients at ETH Zürich and the University of Munich. I'm also in the process of completing a Masters in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, so behind me you'll find a trail of fictional dead bodies and actual biscuit wrappers.

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