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Mailer Boxes: E-commerce Packaging Explained

No Comments    |    ,     |    February 21, 2024    |    Reading time 9 minutes
vector illustration of a hand picking up cardboard boxes off of a conveyor belt in a packaging factory

In the world of e-commerce, packaging plays a crucial role in the customer experience. It's not just about protecting the product during transit, but also about creating a memorable unboxing experience. Among the various types of packaging options available, mailer boxes have emerged as a popular choice for many online businesses. In this glossary article, we will delve into the world of mailer boxes, explaining the terminology and concepts associated with them in comprehensive detail.

Mailer boxes, also known as postage boxes or shipping boxes, are a type of packaging specifically designed for mailing or shipping items. They are typically made from corrugated cardboard, which provides excellent protection for the contents inside, and can be customised in a variety of ways to reflect the brand's identity.

Whether you're a small business owner looking to understand more about your packaging options, or a consumer curious about the box your latest online purchase arrived in, this article will provide you with a thorough understanding of mailer boxes.

Understanding Mailer Boxes

At a basic level, mailer boxes are a type of packaging that is designed to protect and transport goods. They are typically made from corrugated cardboard, a material that is known for its durability and strength. The corrugated design, which features a fluted sheet sandwiched between two linerboards, provides excellent cushioning for the contents inside, making mailer boxes an ideal choice for shipping a wide range of products.

One of the key features of mailer boxes is their self-locking design. Unlike other types of boxes, which may require tape or other adhesives to secure, mailer boxes often come with built-in locking mechanisms.

This not only makes them easy to assemble and secure, but also adds to the unboxing experience, as the customer can easily open the box without the need for scissors or other tools.

Types of Mailer Boxes

While all mailer boxes share certain characteristics, there are different types of mailer boxes that are suited to different purposes.

The most common types include regular slotted containers (RSC), full overlap containers (FOC), and die-cut mailers. RSCs are the most common type of box, featuring flaps that meet in the middle. FOCs, on the other hand, have flaps that fully overlap, providing extra strength and durability.

Die-cut mailers are custom-cut boxes that can be designed to fit a specific product or to create a unique unboxing experience.

Most of them are produced with an in-line flexographic printer / slotter folder gluer which in one operation:

  • prints
  • cuts
  • folds
  • and glues the corrugated board into its final shape

The packaging is the paletised and ready to be shipped flat to the customer.

FEFCO

Each type of mailer box has its own advantages and considerations. For example, RSCs are a cost-effective option that provides good protection for a wide range of products, but they may not offer the same level of branding opportunities as die-cut mailers. On the other hand, die-cut mailers can be more expensive to produce especially in terms of setup costs, but they offer a high level of customisation and can create a memorable unboxing experience.

Materials Used in Mailer Boxes

The most common material used in the production of mailer boxes is corrugated cardboard. This material is chosen for its strength and durability, as well as its environmental credentials. Corrugated cardboard is made from a combination of virgin and recycled fibres, making it a sustainable choice for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact.

However, other materials can also be used in the production of mailer boxes. For example, some businesses may choose to use plastic mailer boxes for certain products. While plastic is less environmentally friendly than cardboard, it can offer superior protection for certain types of products, such as electronics or items that may be exposed to moisture during transit.

Customising Mailer Boxes

One of the key advantages of mailer boxes is their potential for customisation. Businesses can choose to print their logo, brand colours, or other designs on the exterior of the box, turning the packaging into a marketing tool. This not only helps to reinforce the brand's identity, but also creates a memorable unboxing experience for the customer.

Customisation can also extend to the interior of the box. For example, businesses can choose to print a message or design on the inside of the box, or to include branded tissue paper, stickers, or other inserts. This can add an extra layer of surprise and delight for the customer, and can help to make the unboxing experience feel more personal and special.

Printing Techniques

There are several printing techniques that can be used to customise mailer boxes. The most common techniques include flexographic printing, lithographic printing, and digital printing. Flexographic printing is a cost-effective option that is ideal for large runs, but it may not offer the same level of detail as other methods. Lithographic printing, on the other hand, offers high-quality results and is ideal for detailed designs, but it can be more expensive. Digital printing offers a good balance between cost and quality, and is a flexible option that is ideal for small runs or for designs that need to be changed frequently.

Each printing technique has its own advantages and considerations, and the best choice will depend on a variety of factors, including the complexity of the design, the size of the run, and the budget. It's also important to consider the environmental impact of the printing process, as some methods may use inks or solvents that are harmful to the environment.

Finishing Options

In addition to printing, there are also a variety of finishing options that can be used to enhance the appearance of mailer boxes. These can include lamination, which adds a protective layer to the box and can give it a glossy or matte finish; varnishing, which can add a shiny finish and enhance the colours of the printed design; and embossing or debossing, which can add a tactile element to the box.

Each finishing option has its own advantages and considerations. For example, lamination can add a high-end feel to the box and can protect the printed design, but it can also add to the cost of the box and may not be as environmentally friendly as other options. Varnishing can enhance the appearance of the box and protect the printed design, but it may not be suitable for all types of designs. Embossing or debossing can add a unique, tactile element to the box, but these techniques can be more expensive and may require a larger minimum order quantity.

The Role of Mailer Boxes in E-commerce

In the world of e-commerce, packaging plays a crucial role. Not only does it protect the product during transit, but it also contributes to the customer's overall shopping experience. Mailer boxes, with their combination of durability, customisability, and unboxing appeal, have become a popular choice for many online businesses.

From a practical perspective, mailer boxes offer excellent protection for a wide range of products. The corrugated design provides cushioning against impacts, while the self-locking design ensures that the box stays securely closed during transit. This can help to reduce the risk of damage to the product, which can in turn reduce the cost of returns and replacements.

Creating a Memorable Unboxing Experience

From a marketing perspective, mailer boxes offer a wealth of opportunities for creating a memorable unboxing experience. The exterior of the box can be customised with the brand's logo, colours, or other designs, turning the box into a marketing tool. The interior of the box can also be customised, with branded inserts, messages, or other surprises that can add an extra layer of delight for the customer.

Creating a memorable unboxing experience can have a number of benefits for an online business. It can help to reinforce the brand's identity, create a positive impression, and encourage repeat purchases. It can also generate word-of-mouth marketing, as customers share their unboxing experiences on social media or with friends and family.

Environmental Considerations

With growing awareness of the environmental impact of packaging, many businesses are looking for ways to make their packaging more sustainable. Mailer boxes, with their use of corrugated cardboard, offer a more environmentally friendly option than many other types of packaging. Corrugated cardboard is made from a combination of virgin and recycled fibres, and it can be recycled again at the end of its life.

However, it's important to consider the entire lifecycle of the packaging, from production to disposal. This includes the environmental impact of the printing and finishing processes, as well as the impact of shipping the boxes from the manufacturer to the business. Businesses can also consider offering a take-back program, where customers can return their used boxes for recycling, or encouraging customers to reuse or recycle their boxes at home.

Choosing the Right Mailer Box for Your Business

Choosing the right mailer box for your business involves considering a variety of factors, including the size and weight of your products, your budget, your branding requirements, and your environmental goals. It's important to choose a box that offers the right balance of protection, customisability, and sustainability for your needs.

When it comes to size, it's important to choose a box that is the right fit for your product. A box that is too large can lead to unnecessary waste and increased shipping costs, while a box that is too small may not provide adequate protection for your product. It's also important to consider the weight of your product, as heavier products may require a stronger box.

Cost Considerations

Cost is another important factor to consider when choosing a mailer box. The cost of a box can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the size of the box, the type of box, the material used, the printing and finishing options chosen, and the quantity ordered. It's important to consider all of these factors when budgeting for your packaging.

While it can be tempting to choose the cheapest option, it's important to consider the long-term value of your packaging. A high-quality, well-designed box can create a positive impression and encourage repeat purchases, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty in the long run.

Branding and Design Considerations

When it comes to branding and design, the possibilities are almost endless. You can choose to print your logo, brand colours, or other designs on the exterior of the box, and you can also customise the interior with branded inserts, messages, or other surprises. The key is to create a design that reflects your brand's identity and creates a memorable unboxing experience for your customers.

Mattel toys cardboard box design and manufacture

When designing your box, it's important to consider the practical aspects as well. For example, you'll need to ensure that your design is suitable for the printing and finishing techniques you've chosen, and that it will be legible and attractive when printed on the box. You'll also need to consider the durability of your design, as it will need to withstand the rigours of shipping and handling.

Conclusion

Mailer boxes are a versatile and effective packaging solution for e-commerce businesses. With their combination of durability, customisability, and unboxing appeal, they offer a wealth of opportunities for businesses to enhance their customer experience and reinforce their brand identity. Whether you're a small business owner looking to understand more about your packaging options, or a consumer curious about the box your latest online purchase arrived in, we hope this glossary has provided you with a thorough understanding of mailer boxes.

As with any business decision, choosing the right mailer box involves considering a variety of factors, including the size and weight of your products, your budget, your branding requirements, and your environmental goals. By taking the time to understand these factors and how they relate to the different types of mailer boxes available, you can make an informed decision that will benefit both your business and your customers.

Bespoke postal and E-commerce Packaging manufacture

Ready to take your e-commerce packaging to the next level? The Packaging Club is here to help you create a bespoke unboxing experience that your customers won't forget. With our expertise in custom printed packaging and our partnership with the UK's leading packaging manufacturers, we offer high-quality solutions tailored to your brand's needs.

From cost-effective flexographic printing to premium lithographic finishes and cutting-edge digital printing for short runs, we have the technology to bring your vision to life. Plus, with high-speed gluing and special finishing options like metallic foil and UV varnish, we ensure your products stand out while also streamlining your packaging process. Committed to sustainability, we use materials from certified sustainable sources and plant-based inks, helping you meet your CSR goals. Choose The Packaging Club for bespoke packaging made in the UK, and elevate your customer's unboxing experience while saving on costs.

Learn more about bespoke packaging and how we can support your business today.

This article was written by...

Nathan Calvert

Nathan is Head of Digital at The Packaging Club. He has worked in the packaging sector for over 15 years across food, consumer electronics, FMCG ecommerce and more, both directly in-house or as a freelance consultant.

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