The shipment and distribution of ready-to-wear garments has had a place in human history since Ancient Babylonia. Over three millennia have passed, and not a day goes by without packaged parcels of clothing flying overhead in the bellies of cargo aircraft.
What does this mean for you?
Centuries of human innovation and technological advancements have gone into what has become today’s standard practices for the shipment of clothing. With regard to packaging, one method of shipping clothing reigns supreme in terms of cost effectiveness, durability, and weather resistance: the poly mailer.
What characteristics of a poly mailer make it so desirable for the shipment of clothes? And with so many choices to pick between, what mailer options best suit your needs as a business? If these questions are relevant to you, you’ve come to the right place.
Let us first address the fundamental question:
What Is a Poly Mailer?
In the wonderful world of shipping supplies, poly bag mailers are something of an enigma. Most people regularly come into contact with their widely circulated counterpart, the envelope, and their sturdy, corrugated cardboard cousin, the box. But what about shipping mailers themselves?
If you have ever purchased clothes online, it can be said with near absolute certainty that you have encountered a poly bag before, and yet many still do not know them by name.
We had to learn for ourselves what makes poly mailer bags the pièce de résistance of clothing shipping supplies, and today we bestow upon you all of our knowledge.
Starting with the obvious—what even is a poly mailer?
Poly mailers are plastic bags used for shipping. They are typically made from polyethylene, the most commonly produced plastic and a staple in almost all packaging, and are known for being flexible, lightweight, and durable.
Do these qualities make them advantageous for shipping clothes? Absolutely! Which leads us to…
Why Use Poly Mailers?
When poly mailers are an option for ecommerce businesses, they’re almost always chosen for their cost efficiency.
They take up less space and account for less weight and are far cheaper to ship than boxes as a result. This, when taken into consideration with the fact that they are also cheaper to buy, costing approximately 0.15 to 0.25 cents per unit as opposed to a box’s $1.25 per unit, makes them a popular packaging contender.
But that’s not all they have going for them.
Poly mailers are made of plastic, a material known for its resilience (for better and for worse). This results in them being leagues more durable than paper envelopes as well as perfectly fine in rain or shine, something that cannot be said for boxes.
In addition to not being weather resistant, boxes take up a lot of space, making them harder to store than shipping bags, which you can easily find a place for even if you buy in bulk.
With built in adhesive and no packing material required, poly envelopes are all in all a convenient, economical, and reliable way to ship clothing and a variety of other non-fragile items.
The Best Poly Mailers for Clothing
Not all poly mailers are created equal, but how do you know which is right for you?
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of options to make things easier for you. If you have budget, brand, or environmental concerns, we’ve got you covered.
While some view packaging as an opportunity to establish their brand image or provide the consumer with an aesthetically pleasing shopping experience, others are simply looking for packaging that fulfills its function.
Find yourself in the latter? Here are a few things to keep in mind when cutting costs.
Size matters. It’s not enough to compare costs across brands; you need to be specific about what size you require and only look at the price point of that one size.
- Quantity matters. The more you buy, the more you tend to save. In other words: higher quantities will more often than not give you a lower price per count.
*This isn’t a push to buy more than you need, but if you know you’ll be needing a lot, just buy a lot. Don’t buy multiple packs of 100 that add up to a lot because that’s just money down the drain (we’re definitely not speaking from experience).
- Quality matters. There are times when it pays to pay, and this may be one of them. A bad review from a damaged product can cost you more than what you saved while skimping. Try to keep your mailer thickness over 2 mil, and always, always, always check reviews before buying.
Similar but not the same is a fairly accurate statement when it comes to poly mailers. They might all look like carbon copies available in different colors, but there’s more to a mailer than what meets the eye.
The following features have slight distinctions that your consumers will appreciate.
Dual Seals. Two self-sealing adhesive strips allow for easy returns. In an industry where 30-40% of products are returned, dual seals might be a worthy investment for you, though you should also consider the return rate of your business before deciding.
Tamper-Evident. Strong adhesive prevents tampering without a trace. If anything fishy happens to the package while on its way to your customer, they will know. This helps lessen the probability of the recipient being delivered a package with missing and/or damaged items.
Perforated. A perforated opening strip allows for an easier opening experience. It’s great for added convenience, but the chances of being torn in transit are increased. Are you willing to compromise the integrity of your mailer?
- Gusseted. Gusseted bottoms provide extra reinforcement. Though unnecessary for most articles of clothing, items such as shoeboxes which are bulky and heavy may see a benefit.
If you want your business to stand out from the crowd, this is a surefire way to go about it. Customizing the design of your packaging to stay true to your brand and your product is a worthwhile investment for a business of any size.
If you can afford to, there’s no reason not to. Expensive designs use more colors, are more intricate, and take up more space, so avoid these if you’re coming up with a design on a budget.
Other than that, display your logo or get creative, it’s up to you!
As more and more consumers become educated about the impact of their purchases, sustainability in fashion continues to grow in demand. Consumers across all generations want sustainable clothing and are willing to spend more for sustainable products.
Do you want to take every opportunity to limit the environmental damage of your business? If so, don’t draw the line at clothing. Today more than ever there are eco-friendly packaging solutions that minimize waste, carbon footprint, and ecological destruction while maintaining all the sought after qualities of a traditional mailer.
Want to go the extra mile? A 2021 survey from clean manufacturing leader Genomatica found that over half of fashion shoppers want clothing brands to help them understand how their products are more sustainable than alternatives.
Because a consumer’s first impression of your brand starts with its packaging, show your buyers that you hear and understand their desire for sustainability by using eco-friendly poly mailer bags that say how they’re sustainable.
100% recycled SMART Mailers do a great job at this with their eye-catching recycled content claim. The added QR-code for further learning and inclusion of recycling instructions for responsible disposal are the icing on the cake!
Buying Poly Mailers
You’re now more than equipped with all you need to know to purchase your mailers and ship those clothes of yours. As long as you choose the right poly mailer size, your package should arrive safely and you should have nothing to worry about.
Until next time, shop smart and ship smart.