Less is More: Making a Case for Mailers

January 11, 2016

Shipping at high volumes is a balancing act: in one hand you have shipping costs, and in the other you have shipping quality. All the while, hovering over your moral center is the impact that all this shipping is having on the environment. To strike a balance — shipping nirvana, if you will — the solution may be mailers.

Boxes are often the default in most businesses, but if you can change your frame of mind to mailers, there are little pockets of savings that add up to big money over time. 

Starting in 2015, FedEx, UPS, and sometimes USPS, have started accounting for dimensional weight (a.k.a. "dim weight"), in addition to actual weight of packages. Different carriers have volumetric divisors, and sometimes they change. Carriers also have their own parameters for what packages require for DIM shipping. So, check with your carrier to see their most up-to-date policies.

Length × Width × Height (inches) / Volumetric Divisor = Dimensional Weight

You’ll be charged for whichever weight is higher. To make a case for both extremes, if you're shipping a large canvas print that only weighs a few pounds, then you'll be charged the dimensional weight. If you’re sending a small box of marbles (you do that too, right?), you’ll be charged for the actual weight.

Since mailers save space on the trucks and they weigh less, you could save $1 per package on shipping costs alone.

The cost of shipping materials is another variable you have to look at. Our custom reinforced, expandable mailers are comparable alternatives to boxes when shipping any sort of clothing, bedding or soft goods. When you order 500 of the 9.50” × 16.00” × 3.00” size, around $1.50 each. A plain box of similar dimensions would run you around the same price without customization or the added packaging you need with a box. 

Mailers are more forgiving when shipping goods of various sizes and they require less padding and packaging materials inside. They're also pretty low maintenance. While boxes require assembly, tape, and packing, mailers just require you to pack, peel and stick. That's less time, which means less money and a faster turnaround for your customers.

If your products are mailer-friendly, making the switch could mean major conservation for your brand's workspace and our shared space on this big rock called planet Earth. Let's start micro: 

You can fit about 20 times more mailers than boxes on a single pallet. 

We really wish we knew this when we first launched Lumi. After our first order of custom boxes, the pallets filled our entire workspace for weeks. It's been a year since that first batch and since we've changed our logo, we still have a few pallets taking permanent residence in the back quadrant of our warehouse. 

While we're on the subject of drowning in boxes, it's worth noting that mailers require less material, 80-90% of which is made of recycled content. Less waste is created and less ends up in landfills. 

We really do love boxes and we ship in them all the time, but when mailers are a feasible option, they're a much more economic and efficient default shipping choice. And they look spiffy too — especially when they're customized.

Mailers make the ultimate case for less is more: less space, less labor, less resources and much more efficiency for your business. 

Can't get enough of mailers? We can't either, so we dedicated an entire episode of Shipping Things to it.

Innovative brands use Lumi to manage scalable and sustainable packaging.

Learn more →