Shipping supplies come in a range of sizes and shapes, and the right choice can significantly minimize shipping expenses and boost your bottom line. As an online retailer, one of the key aspects of your business is to ensure that your products reach your customers without damage, thus helping reduce returns, which then translates to higher profitability, as does picking the right type and size of mailing envelopes and shipping boxes.

The biggest challenge that any shipping company faces is finding the ideal and most protective combination of packing and shipping supplies in order to ship products safely and at the lowest possible cost. Since shipping is the point where a client finally gets to experience your product personally, it is critical to map out a well-defined shipping strategy. Since the shipping world is a complex one, especially when you are just starting out, U-Pack has put together a guide that will enable you to make the best choice for your business.

Shipping Boxes & Mailing Envelopes

Unless you are trying to create a customized size and shape, you are primarily presented with two options: shipping boxes and mailing envelopes.

Shipping Boxes

Size is crucial when it comes to shipping boxes. Plus, its structural integrity should also be perfect at the start of the shipping process. There is a wide range of types, weights, and strengths of boxes to choose from, along with a variety of shipping supplies, cushioning materials, and appropriate labeling.

Remember that the shipping box is only the first layer of defense against rough handling. What you put around and inside the box all play a critical role in minimizing the impact of transit. U-Pack suggests adding sufficient polystyrene foam, and ensuring that your boxes are correctly labeled, as it will go a long way in protecting your product. Make it a point to seal boxes with long strips of strong tape. Experts recommend nylon reinforced filament as well as pressure sensitive sealants to protect the items inside.

Another key tip when handling shipping boxes is to layer them using different sizes and weights to ensure the products inside stay safe. Put heavier items in thick-wall boxes, and use double boxing for delicate items, with 3 inches of padding around the smaller box that goes inside. This will also help safeguard items which could be damaged by daily handling (scuff marks, dirt, labels).

Be aware of using a shipping box that is too big for the product since it can put the items at risk of damage or increasing shipping charges owing to its size. If you are selling differently shaped products, go for shipping boxes that accommodate each of them.

Mailing Envelopes

Garments and other soft, light yet sturdy goods make good candidates for mailers as opposed to shipping boxes. At times, using a combination of boxes and envelopes works best - for instance, an envelope for smaller orders while a big box for large orders.

One of the main benefits of using mailing envelopes is their reasonable price as compared to corrugated shipping boxes. Plus, they occupy less space, both in the warehouse as well as the truck, thus resulting in lower storage and inbound shipping costs. Lastly, they help minimize labor related to packing since they don't require taping or setting up. A majority of mailing envelopes come with a seal and peel strip that eliminates the need for extra tape to protect the contents inside.

You can choose from a variety of mailing envelopes, such as plastic envelopes, paperboard envelopes as well as paper mailing envelopes. Once you decided the type of mailing envelope to go with, you will need to decide the amount of cushioning you will need. See if it is absolutely crucial to include protective padding around the item. Padding will increase your cost and is generally not a necessity. If you do need padding, it is recommended that you go with bubbled-lined mailing envelopes since they are effective and lightweight. If you have heavier or larger products, it might be ideal to consider shipping boxes for the orders.

What is Dimensional Pricing?

Dimensional pricing plays a key role in determining the choice of the shipping box. If you are going with FedEx or UPS, you probably already know that both use dimensional pricing to fix a final shipping cost. This method now charges businesses based on the amount of space their orders occupy in the moving trucks as opposed to their weight.

You can easily calculate the dimensional weight of a package by measuring its height, width, and length in inches. Be sure to use the longest point on both sides, and take into account any misshaped sides or bulges. Then multiply those dimensions to arrive at the package's cubic size.

Shipping Boxes Colors

The main standard colors for shipping boxes include natural Kraft and white, and they both have their own advantages. Kraft boxes don't need to be processed or printed into its color, and they are also manufactured from 60% to 100% recycled content, making it the most environmentally-friendly option for e-commerce retailers. In addition to that, Kraft boards are also less costly in comparison with their white counterparts.

However, certain people and industries such as medical, food and health, favor the simple look of a white box. The color option you choose will ultimately wind down to what your target audience is. Though some view white boxes as a cleaner and more hygienic option, others will only view it as a less natural alternative. For many, white is also synonymous with bleaching.

Moreover, white shipping boxes generally arrive at their destination looking soiled and more damaged since the color has a tendency to accentuate every scrape and scuff. If you are planning to use graphics boxes, it may be a good idea to make use of a white box that will make your designs pop out.