Letterbox friendly boxes are opening up new doors for online retailers

Consumer habits and lifestyles are always changing, and retailers need to recognise and react to these changes, none more so than online retailers. As we return to work post-Covid, we no longer have the luxury of being at home to receive our deliveries. We’ve got used to seeing our delivery drivers on a weekly basis over the last 18 months or so and now we are faced with making choices again about our ‘safe-places’ and with it, the prospect of missing and lost parcels. So what’s the answer? How can we all be ‘in’ when in fact we’re actually out?

Hassle-free deliveries with letterbox friendly mailers

We have all grown accustomed to the convenience of online shopping, even more so recently when we didn’t need to worry about being out and missing deliveries. This was also good news for retailers who didn’t have to deal with so many failed shipments and lost parcels. The combination of the cardboard shortage we saw as a result of Brexit and Covid, as well as cardboard price hikes, lead many retailers to look at different ways of shipping to ensure they had ample supply as well as keeping costs to a minimum. It provided an opportunity for some to re-think their despatch methods.

Low-cost shipping is obviously extremely attractive to retailers and being able to optimise boxes and cartons for Royal Mail postal sizes is a huge gain, making the most of every possible margin. And who wouldn’t want to send a parcel for the same cost as sending a large letter!

One such example is our eco-friendly letterbox friendly boxes. We have seen these grow in popularity and they are equally at home with a high-end retail piece or something simple such as books, prints and frames. This is a great budget packaging solution that looks anything but budget. And as the festive season will be upon us too, this is a perfect way to ship for less.

Purchase and shipping costs for letterbox friendly boxes

There’s more good news with our NEST letterbox friendly mailers.  They can be purchased in small pack quantities of just 50 units with pricing starts at just 13p each. And with Royal Mail shipping prices starting at just £2.36, this really is a very cost-effective shipping solution that’s guaranteed to reach its destination every time – your entire shipping and packaging costs for just £2.49!

Not only that, box assembly times are literally a matter of seconds so there are time-saving opportunities here too.

How letterbox friendly mailers can deliver growth

Letterbox friendly box

Letterbox friendly mailers

Subscription-based online retailers have been quick to understand the value of this low-cost way to way to ship. From mini hampers to wine and gin, to ‘flat-packed’ flowers and plants – letterbox compatible mailers are taking over. The online subscription-based model is now believed to be worth £1 billion with more of a quarter of UK shoppers signed up to one.

It’s a perfect way for new start-ups as well as established brands to lock in customer loyalty with super low running costs.

Bloom & Wild are probably one of the most recognised brands that come to mind when thinking of this type of home delivery. In fact, they state they are the inventors of letterbox flowers. Since 2013, they have delivered to over 2 million customers, straight through the letterbox! Their business model was built entirely around one item of packaging – letterbox friendly mailers.

And when it comes to the customer experience, you can really go to town with the benefit of being able to keep costs low. Sending products made to measure for a letterbox mailer means void filling becomes easy and cost-effective as not no much is required. Team up your eco-friendly outer packaging with innovative and sustainable protective packaging such as Tesselwrap and Zigglefil which deliver a really special unboxing experience. Don’t forget tissue paper which always looks sumptuous and sophisticated. You can see more from our NEST range here.

Whether you’re a start-up, established brand or looking for a more cost-effective way of shipping, letterbox friendly mailers really can open those doors for eCommerce growth. If you’d like to find out how you can take advantage of this exciting and growing area of e-commerce, please get in touch below, we’d love to know all about it!

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Two things to look at right now to start your journey to carbon neutral

We all often hear a lot of different terms being used to describe organisations moving towards doing greener businesses.  Terms such as net carbon zero, carbon neutral, carbon offsetting – as well as a lot of misinformation on what these terms all mean. It’s not easy to understand what your carbon goal could or should be or how to start your journey.  We take a look at what some of these terms mean and how you can make immediate changes within your business to make a difference from Day 1.

What does carbon footprint mean?

This is the calculation of an individual’s, a company’s or even a country’s carbon dioxide emissions. This is essentially a meaningful way to understand your environmental impact. It’s your first step on your journey to finding out what your emissions are and then implementing a program of reduction. As we say, to measure is to know!

What is Net Carbon Zero?

Net Zero refers to the complete elimination of carbon production. In simple terms, it means that the processes and activities taking place in a business generates net-zero carbon emissions. Sometimes companies, even countries, will publish and commit to a date to achieve this. The UK, for example,  has set a pledge to achieve net-zero by 2050. In fact it was set in law, with a milestone of a 78% reduction by 2035. 

What is Carbon Neutral?

Where business activities do create carbon emissions, a carbon-neutral approach can be adopted. This is sometimes described as Offsetting. So a company would measure it’s carbon footprint and use this calculation to remove the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.

What is Climate Positive?

While carbon zero is an incredible goal to achieve, many seek to do more. Climate Positive, or sometimes referred to as Carbon Negative, is the focus on the removal of more carbon than is being produced. So this goes beyond Offsetting.

The 2 areas where can you start to make a difference today

If you’re a retailer there are 2 things that you can have an influence on right away – your packaging and how you use transport.

How the right packaging can help get you to carbon neutral

Packaging has become a big issue and sometimes a concern for consumers. Large eCommerce companies are often ‘called out’ by consumers who receive their online orders in wasteful packaging. Using your packaging efficiently not only cuts costs on the boxes themselves but if you’re posting your items – you’ll be charged more for those oversize boxes! And that’s not even thinking about damage to your brand reputation if something like this (below) happens. You will be seen as wasteful, not caring about your environmental impact and likely end up a ‘star’ on YouTube and social media for all the wrong reasons! You can see the full story about this unfortunate Amazon delivery and packaging fail here.

How the wrong packaging can disrupt your journey to carbon neutral

How the wrong packaging can disrupt your journey to carbon neutral

But getting good with packaging choice is much more than just cardboard box size – do you know its provenance? By that we mean:

Do you know where it was manufactured?

How many miles has it travelled to get to your facility?

Does it have FSC accreditations?

What percentage of recycled content does it have?

Can it be recycled by your customer? 

 

Will your customers be delighted with your packaging?

Will your customers be delighted with your packaging?

Having a better understanding of these criteria and challenging those weaker areas will all contribute to a better carbon footprint. An FSC accreditation, for example, is really something to shout about and something more consumers are looking out for. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 67% of those asked recognised the FSC logo and 75% stated that it was important for the packaging of the products they buy to be responsibly sourced. 

We’re proud that our eco-friendly e-commerce packaging range NEST is all responsibly sourced – all from the UK or Europe, many with FSC accreditations. You can find out more about the importance of FSC here. Every single product in the NEST range is 100% recyclable and many are manufactured with 100% recycled materials. We know the importance that customers place on recyclable packaging with over 88% of UK shoppers demanding on-pack information that highlights how environmentally friendly it is – or isn’t!

All this was factored into our thinking when launching a dedicated eCommerce packaging range and you can find out more about NEST here.

How clever use of transport can help get you to carbon neutral

Eliminating or reducing wasted miles has a hugely beneficial impact on your carbon footprint and getting smarter with how your operation or network uses transport is a very quick way to going greener faster. Think about the journeys your products take from sourcing to final delivery, the double handling they may go through and the travel infrastructure needed behind these processes.

Today, we see a definite trend in the move away from suppliers from the Far East and Asia. Companies who found prices attractive and could wait a reasonably long time for transport were forced to re-look at their supply chains once Covid started. Left high and dry and with escalating prices on top of that, this no longer became a reliable service for many. Throw in the environmental impact of products travelling thousands of mile makes sourcing closer to home now seems much more attractive.

Become carbon neutral with single source supply

Become carbon neutral with a single-source supply

If your business is a multi-branch operation, how can you optimise the process of sending your everyday consumables to your entire network? There is huge scope for getting smart with this area of your operation. Working with a single-source supplier is a really clever way to reduce your transport burden. This approach can also alleviate storage challenges you may have on-site, leaving more room in your warehouse for your profitable products. A single-source supplier can coordinate all your store deliveries effectively and efficiently – have it when you need it and in as few deliveries as possible.

The first steps

Without a doubt, packaging and transport changes will deliver quick green wins. To be able to demonstrate how your business is actively working to reduce its impact is something that is no longer nice to have. Having a Corporate Social Responsibility policy in place is something all end-user of your products will look for and your partners and staff will expect. There has never been a better time to start this process, document and showcase your carbon savings and take your first step to reduce your carbon footprint.

Need help getting started with this? Why not get in touch for free help and advice, drop us a message below.

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It may be the height of summer but we’re already thinking ahead to winter. If you’re an online retailer, the chances are, you’re doing the same. But rather than focussing on what you’ll be selling, your thoughts may be turning to how you’re actually going to get your products to your customers. We still find ourselves in the grip of a cardboard crisis and the latest information suggests that the next six months are going to be just as tough. So what can be done?

Did how we shopped last Christmas contribute to the cardboard crisis?

As you would have guessed, we all took to the internet for our festive shopping in 2020. UK Finance said that 33.8% of the value of ALL credit and debit card spending was online. This was an increase from 28% the previous year. To put that into perspective, Christmas online spending totalled £27 billion in the UK, and interestingly 43% of global online purchases were made from smartphones. This was against a background of continuing uncertainty as we headed towards a ‘segregated’ Christmas.

Stunning silver Zigglefil - eco-friendly void fill

Stunning silver Zigglefil – eco-friendly void fill

What this meant was that the majority of gifts and presents found themselves delivered to relatives and loved ones in cardboard boxes and packaging courtesy of the retailer’s courier network boxes rather than in person.  Many consumers took advantage of gift wrap options where available and that’s something to keep in mind for this year if you’re an online retailer and not set up for this Christmas, you can see some gift wrapping and product presentation ideas here. Many were sent to the buyer, re-wrapped and then re-posted out again to relatives in time for Christmas. This kept cardboard out of circulation for recycling for even longer and the increased demand depleted already dwindling supplies.

The Recycling Association reported that there were an extra 200 million home deliveries over the festive period. All this additional activity and use of cardboard boxes have all played their part in the cardboard crisis we find ourselves in now. There are further reasons that contributed to this situation and resulting price hikes which you can read about here.

The cardboard crisis affecting and driven by eCommerce

Just looking at Royal Mail parcel deliveries alone, nearly 500 million parcels were delivered in the last quarter of 2020, an increase of 30% on the previous year. And as we head into 2021, there are indicators that this trend will continue with 46% of shoppers purchasing items such as clothing and accessories online, as well as electronics and beauty products. The way we shop and what we now shop for online has changed forever and this, in turn, means an ever-increasing demand for cardboard boxes.

When you throw sustainability and consumer desire for eco-friendly packaging into the mix,  corrugated cardboard and paper packaging ticks all the boxes with 66% of online customers preferring to see their orders arriving in paper packaging.  And a very telling statistic shows that the packaging used for online orders can make or break future orders with 44% stating they would consider shopping elsewhere if their chosen retailer was not actively reducing their packaging’s environmental impact by using cardboard and paper packaging.

And when you look at the recycling rates, corrugated boxes are recycled more than any other packaging material, it’s easy to see why this is the consumer’s top choice and will vote with their ‘online feet’ accordingly! Consumers want to do their bit and expect the brands they shop with to do the same.

What’s the cardboard crisis forecast for Christmas 2021?

Our suppliers had already warned us that getting hold of paper in this second quarter of this year is going to be more challenging than at any time before in this crisis. We were in rather a better position having secured plenty of stock of eco-friendly packaging in anticipation of launching our new NEST eCommerce packaging range. 

Christmas is such an important time for retailers and their customers and if you’re sending fragile items such as glassware or delicate gift items, you’ll want to know that they will arrive in perfect condition, especially if you’re looking at trying something new to send it in.  Asking for free samples is a great way to see the products and do some testing. Any good supplier will be happy to oblige and we have certainly completed our own testing to ensure our products perform, have good functionality and will become a real asset to the production line and the boxing-up process.

So what are the indications for cardboard box supply for Q4?

It would seem there will be no let-up to the current cardboard crisis and is predicted to worsen as we head through the final 6 months.  As we go to press, there is nothing on the horizon that indicates prices are due to come down.  This is the general consensus coming from the paper mills and suppliers we are in contact with and work with. This will obviously be a concern for online retailers who are looking for ways to mitigate losses due to cardboard packaging shortages with the double-whammy of price hikes.

Working collaboratively with a trusted packaging supplier is the best way to navigate this cardboard crisis. Ask them about alternative ecofriendly innovative products and ensure that they perform as well as their plastic counterparts.  Trying something different is a good way to find plentiful supplies of stock. It could make all the difference to your preparation towards successful Q4 sales.

You can take a look at our entire eco-friendly packaging NEST range here to see full pricing and usage ideas. And if you would like some free samples to do your own testing, please just pop us a request using the form below.

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12 months that saw prices for cardboard boxes rise ten-fold

As UK society takes more tentative steps towards recovery in a post-Covid world, international markets have been faced with everchanging circumstances and trying to navigate through them – as indeed we all have. We all saw petrol prices plummet when we went into the first lockdown due to a drop in demand as we all stayed at home. Other commodities in sharp contrast have been in huge demand as well as being impacted by unforeseen events. So, we are going to try to explain the contributory factors behind the price hikes for cardboard boxes and why it’s now been coined the hunt for the new ‘beige gold’!

How cardboard boxes became hot property

So how did this all start?

Well as you have probably guessed, the 2 main reasons behind this have been Covid and Brexit – but what is interesting is just how these factors played their part in price rises and supply shortages.

The cardboard ‘lifecycle’ very much depends and relies on recycling. Before the pandemic, high street retailers played a huge part in this recycling process, returning used cardboard boxes for recycling that arrived in-store. With the start of lockdown, non-essential retail closed and along with that came the seismic shift to eCommerce and home deliveries – this situation turned into a perfect storm. This meant a significant amount of cardboard was no longer available for that all-important collection and recycling. The reality was it was all piling up in consumer’s homes or worse, ending up in the landfill. The delicate circular economy of the manufacture of cardboard boxes collapsed.

The impact of eCommerce on box supply

And so started the next chain of events

Doorstep deliveries in cardboard boxes

Doorstep deliveries in cardboard boxes

Non-essential shops were closed. With consumers afraid to go out and visit even essential shops such as supermarkets – the UK took to buying online. People who had never shopped online before were forced to do so. Consumers were panic buying ahead of Brexit and after seeing the shelves stripped bare in supermarkets. A year ago, retailers were predicting that the way we shop could change forever as 33% more of us switched to getting our groceries delivered at home. By August of last year, three-quarters of us were doing the weekly food shop online.

Online retailers were also stockpiling cardboard boxes out of their own concerns about supply, Brexit and border disruptions. Businesses such as pubs, breweries, garden centres, flower growers and nurseries and charities all had to suddenly pivot their businesses online to survive. And what did they all need? Cardboard boxes!

Demand continued to grow, reaching record levels of online purchasing with an increase of over 74% – pushing box supply into further scarcity.  There were winners and also losers and if you were a retailer in the home and garden space, the only issue was being able to keep up with demand! The Royal Mail reported that there were over 200 million extra parcels processed through their courier networks in 2020 alone.

Cardboard supply in 2021

As we entered 2021, prices of old board had risen to £118 a tonne compared to £10 in January 2020. An article at the beginning of this year described the UK supply chain as “utterly overwhelmed” for corrugated board. At the same time, online retailers were being quoted double the normal cost to purchase their cardboard boxes and lead times being extended from a matter of days to two to three months.

In March this year, the Confederation of Paper Industries said that demand was 5 years ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

Simon Ellin, of the Recycling Association, stated the shortage was down to the “Amazon effect”. “There is a monumental increase in demand caused by the surge in online deliveries during the pandemic,” he said. “It’s a global shortage – not just the UK or EU – given huge demand from China. People are going around stealing cardboard.”

Current prices of old board are being reported at levels around £140.00 per tonne so the last few months are still showing strong price increases.

A look to the future with eCommerce and cardboard boxes

The affect of internet sales on cardboard boxes

The continuing rise of internet sales will impact the supply of cardboard boxes

The mills and manufacturers we work with are continuing to talk of extremely difficult conditions. Mills have been operating non-stop with machinery running in continuous and additional shifts without planned and reactive maintenance. They are now being forced to stop in turn to carry out these essential works.

We are being told that we should be in no doubt that getting hold of paper in this second quarter of this year is going to be more difficult than at anytime before in this crisis. Here are the 4 current factors, some we have looked at already, that will continue to dictate price and supply:

  • Mill downtime
  • Cost of imported paper up by 40% 
  • Waste supply and prices
  • Panic buying

Paper supply will continue to remain tight for the rest of 2021 – there is no doubt of this. We will have to all prepare for further increases in the very near future. Our best advice? Work closely with your supplier and continue to relentlessly monitor and manage your own supplies. You may have to make concessions such as using non-branded boxes or work with box sizes that aren’t your top choices. Investigating different void fill to make the most of different sized boxes may be worthwhile too. Make sure you look at your own forecasting and get orders into your suppliers as quickly as possible.

There is also no doubt that the UK’s love affair with eCommerce, born out of necessity from shopping restrictions due to Covid, will continue to grow. Last year, it was forecasted that we would spend £80,678 million in 2021 according to Statista so the struggle for cardboard boxes is definitely with us a while longer.

Need support or advice? We’re here to help. Just drop us a quick email and we’ll get right back to you.

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Six benefits of eco-friendly packaging

Now more than ever, corporations and communities are realising the threat that climate change poses. While undoing the damage that has already been caused is impossible, we can prevent further damage to the environment. The fact of the matter is that changes have to be made if the situation is to improve. Companies must exercise corporate social responsibility by ditching the past and moving forward with renewables to promote a more ethically conscious business climate. A significant step towards accomplishing this is making the shift to eco-friendly packaging materials.

What makes packaging eco-friendly?

With sustainability constantly trending in the social and corporate spheres, many people may wonder what constitutes as sustainable, and in the context of packaging, what makes a package sustainable? The answer is not as complicated as you may think.

At its very essence, eco-friendly or sustainable packaging is packaging that’s recyclable, safe for people and the planet, and is made from recycled materials. Sustainable packaging uses materials and manufacturing practices that have minimal impact on natural resources and energy consumption.

Why should we care?

Eco-friendly packaging

Eco-friendly packaging

The fact of the matter is that there is no future in limited resources. The role that packaging plays in reducing product waste can result in a positive environmental impact on a global scale. This is both interesting and significant. Packaging indirectly affects volume and weight, which can in turn, reduce transportation dramatically and ultimately contribute to reducing greenhouse gases. Simply put, we cannot overstate the importance of investigating what affect shifting to sustainable packaging might have on our communities, companies, and the environment.

Even McDonalds is joining the movement; the global fast-food giant announced that its packaging will be 100% renewable and recycled by 2025. Consumers want brands to practice their social responsibility, so implementing eco-friendly packaging in your business operations is no longer an option – it’s a necessity.

What are the benefits of using sustainable packaging?

Besides the obvious one: that it’s better for the environment – there are many benefits of shifting to sustainable packaging options. The benefits of switching to sustainable or green packaging solutions include:

  • Reducing the amount of product package waste
  • Endorsing the use of renewable/reusable materials
  • Cutting back on packaging-related costs
  • Eliminating the use of toxic materials in the production of packaging
  • Decreasing your carbon footprint
  • Improving overall brand image which in turn increases your fan base

What Are Some Popular Eco-friendly Packaging Solutions?

Paper tape on parcel

Paper tape on parcel

It’s a common misconception that shifting to a more eco-friendly option means you skimp on quality, when in fact, green packaging is often more durable. In addition, sustainable packaging solutions offer brands a variety of packaging options. With so many eco-friendly alternatives on the market at competitive prices, more businesses are investigating their options. Packaging tape is one area where significant improvements can be made with products like paper tape, which is completely environmentally friendly meaning it can go straight into kerbside recycling. You also need to use much less of it compared to standard vinyl tape so there is a cost saving there too.

Another innovative green packaging product is the Grip Film system. A high performance, pre-stretched pallet wrap that reduces plastic wastage by 40% and costs by up to 25%. This eco-friendly wrapping solution is quick, easy, safe, and offers a cost-effective option to wrapping pallets every single time.

Shifting To Sustainable Packaging Solutions In 2021

If you want to make the shift to introducing more sustainable packaging options into your business operations, there’s no better time to go green. Green packaging can reduce the amount of packaging you use, promote packaging reuse, decrease your carbon footprint and save you tax with the impending plastic packaging tax looming in 2021. These are crucial aspects to your business and your bottom line.

We’re committed to helping you leverage these critical points with our range of sustainable packaging products. We can help you create a sustainable and eco-friendly packaging approach that boosts your brand, products, and operations. After all, we only have one earth and must band together to make the change – starting with one eco-friendly package at a time!

Some eco-friendly packaging options to think about

NEST eco-friendly packaging solutions for ecommerce

Paper tape

Grip Film hand pallet wrap

iWrap machine pallet wrap

 

Need some help to get started? We’re here to help – just pop us an email using the form below

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Why should I optimise my eCommerce packaging for Royal Mail postal sizes?

The steady rise of e-commerce has seen something of an explosion, fuelled by the consequences of recent events. The bricks-and-mortar retail experience involving face-to-face interaction is fast being overtaken by the virtual, where your website and packaging become the main players in your customers’ shopping experience. In fact, 55% of customers would not recommend a poorly designed website that’s not optimised for mobile to their peers. Think about that! The online customer has come to expect a curated online experience and for mail-ordered goods to arrive in a presentable fashion and when promised.

Next, taking the time to research and optimise the design and style of packaging and presentation can result in the most exciting unpacking experience, potentially adding to the number of favourable reviews on your nicely optimised website. So what’s the impression of the parcel you sent them?  Is it one of care for the customer, the product and the environment? Is it easy (or fiddly) to open for a start? Using packaging that is over-bulky or difficult to recycle won’t earn you brownie points. Can they easily re-use it to return any items not needed – or worse still – damaged?

Ecommerce returns in the US in the 2018 holiday season came to £32 billion – up to 30% of that was due to damaged items. Making sure your protective packaging does what it needs to, protect its contents – and your customers’ much-awaited delivery – is imperative. Especially when we can reveal that returning customers spend up to 67% more than first-time customers. Damaged goods mean a damaged customer relationship

Packaging – the new customer interface

Many items such as clothing, books, home goods and electronic items require protection from moisture for example, so polythene wrapping would probably be on your packaging wish list. But you don’t need to lose sight of eco-friendly options here. There are polybags made from recycled materials as well as some paper packaging with splash resistant coatings. Other items might need void fill and again, you don’t have to turn to plastic bubble wrap for this, there are plenty of eco-friendly void fill options available. We’ll be looking at this in greater detail below.

Right now, businesses finding themselves under increasing financial pressure will no doubt be looking at all ways to reduce costs. And a simple thing such as optimising for postal sizes can deliver cost-saving benefits.

Thinking about your products and how to get them safely to your customers and looking good will be your priority. But you also want to make sure anything you send is cost-effective and optimised for the Royal Mail postal sizes. So let’s take a look at making the most of this new face-to-face with your customer.

Your guide to Royal Mail postal sizes categories

Royal Mail Letter

With the Royal Mail Group having delivered around 10 billion addressed letters during the twelve months ending March 2020, this is the volume end of the postal categories.

Maximum weight is 100g and size up to 24cm x 16.5cm x .5cm.

This includes popular DL and C5 envelopes, and also the first 3 sizes of light bubble bags and various CD/DVD mailers

 

Royal Mail Large Letter Boxes

Maximum weight is 750g, 35.3cm x 25cm x 2.5cm.

Paper padded envelopes

This includes envelope sizes up to C4 and B4 and similarly the first 5 sizes of padded bags. Again, you can still hang onto your green creds with paper padded envelopes that don’t have a plastic bubble but provide equal protection. Where the contents are heavier then stronger padded bags offer greater protection such as Gold Jiffy padded bags.

Customers will appreciate packages being of a size that can be readily posted through a standard letterbox where possible rather than run the risks associated with leaving goods outside the door.  There is scope to improve your delivery costs by ordering your own bespoke packaging to keep you within the appropriate size constraints. Single wall corrugated cartons of various styles can make for a light protective package.

The incentive to pack wisely within this category is that the next step up, whilst permitting almost 3 x the weight does so at 3 x the price!  Why not use some of the money saved from paying the next tariff up to custom print your packaging, reinforcing your company branding?

Royal Mail Small Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 2kg, 45cm x 35cm x 16cm.

Corrugated book wrap mailer

Generally, cartons and mailers, both padded and unpadded will be the popular choice here. There may be more need for simple protection and void-fillers unless you have a range of carton sizes or padded bags at hand. Consider nesting or telescopic cartons to accommodate fluctuating contents.

Worthy of special mention is the corrugated book wrap mailer.  Not exclusively for books, they come flat and makeup speedily using pre-creased folds, providing corner protection and rigidity in a lightweight package.

Royal Mail Medium Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 20kg, 61cm x 46cm x 46cm.

Soft furnishings and clothing generally travel well in self-seal polythene mailing bags. Not only are they lightweight, but there is a further bonus of being water-resistant. Used appropriately, paper sacks could replace polythene sacks. Another solution could be looking at the ‘multi-scored cartons’ so that the box height can be more easily adapted to suit the contents as well as reducing the need for void-fillers. This gives you so much more flexibility, especially if you have a range of different sized products.

Royal Mail Large Parcel Boxes

Maximum is 30kg, 150cm x a combined width and depth of 300cm.

Here the potentially greater weight will necessitate the use of cartons constructed from double-walled corrugated cardboard. If the products inside are heavy, sharp and could work their way out of a carton, then fitments made of corrugated, film or foam may be required to hold the goods in place.

Do check the Royal Mail website re-weight restrictions on Special Delivery items on postal sizes.

Internal Dimensions vs External Dimensions – A Crucial Consideration For Royal Mail Postage Boxes

When speaking to box manufacturers about eCommerce packaging that needs to fit within a specific Royal Mail size restriction, please be aware of the confusion that often occurs over the internal and external parcel dimensions.

Box manufacturers, almost without fail, will always quote you for the internal size of the box.  This is because the entire packaging manufacturing industry is heavily standardised, for example, they all prefer to use the EU standard FEFCO codes to describe standard box styles.

The end-users of e-commerce packaging, however, typically prefer to use external box dimensions – especially when trying to align with Royal Mail postal sizes which are all external dimensions.

So there you have it – the perfect setup for rejected batches of custom made packaging: the customer thought they were going to receive a box with maximum external dimensions of H x L x B, and the manufacturer thought they were making a box with minimum internal dimensions of H x L x B.

This is especially crucial if you’re trying to fit within the large letter size which has a mere 25mm thickness allowance, and when using thicker grades of corrugated card.  For example, in the corners where 3 layers of card may overlap at the seams, a cardboard thickness of just 2mm can create a 6mm difference on each side, so up to 1.2cm overall too large.

Then squeeze a bulky item inside the package that makes the card bend out slightly and you’re even more likely to find you’re over the size limits.

Manufacturers Box Size Tolerance

Another word of caution when ordering bespoke size boxes for e-commerce – manufacturers typically have a + or – tolerance of several millimetres, 5mm tolerance is not uncommon.

This means that going to the maximum size you think you can get away with within Royal Mail limits is risky for bespoke size packaging – especially if you are a larger user (Royal Mail tend to be more lenient on low-volume clients than high-volume users who may be penalised for just 1mm oversize).

Check the box size tolerance before you order.  Typically Die-cut boxes and boxes on thinner card such as E-Flute will have less size variation from one batch to the next than boxes that are CAD-cut or else made from thicker grades of card like B-Flute or EB-Flute for example.

Choose eco-friendly Royal Mail postage boxes

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

What does this have to do with postal sizes? Well, we all want to be seen to be ‘doing our bit’ for the environment. Your customers are very interested in your ‘greener’ packaging choices! We need to Royal Mail Postage Boxes practice the above principles whilst keeping close control on costs. By all means, weigh-up the pros and cons by following our suggestions below. Keep one eye on the Royal Mail dimensions, a cheap (free) box that unnecessarily puts you in the next postal sizes charging bracket will cost far more than buying your own bespoke size in the long run.

Ensure that your packaging is fit for the purpose. Common sense isn’t it? Well, yes. But rather than taking any old box or wrap, it is worth checking if the packaging could be lighter, tighter and thinner where you are sending numbers of unbreakable items. Could you use a smaller box and save wastage? Or even use a mailbag or book wrap instead of a small box  >2kg with a maximum size of 45cm x 35cm x 16cm.

Matching box sizes to popular order sizes will reduce the amount of filler required to prevent the contents from knocking around inside. When on the receiving end of goods in oversize cartons, the unboxing of copious amounts of void fill can be an irritation. So think about the likely reaction of others to your finished article, but also think of the environmental impact of the way you pack.

Packaging Machinery

Paper void fill

Rather than send polystyrene shapes that will end up blowing around the client’s floor and car park, you could use alternatives such as paper to fill voids and protect the goods in transit. There are several machines that will stand ‘in-line’ beside the work-station and deliver scrunched-up paper or pads on demand, usually from a compact roll and driven electrically.

For the smaller user, then rolls of corrugated paper can work well to protect and stabilize the Royal Mail postage boxes contents via block and brace. Corrugated rolls can be supplied in numerous standard widths and are made of nearly 100% recycled paper.

If padding is not required, then sacks are a good option. The choice then is to go for a paper sack, which is robust but not totally waterproof, or a plastic sack which is water-resistant without offering any stiffness or padding.

Paper Tape

Which brings us to the question of sealing tape. Whilst the market went overboard for plastic tape and away from gummed paper tape 50 years or so ago, the environmental argument against the majority of plastic tapes is pretty clear when it can interfere with the straightforward recycling of corrugated cardboard boxes and paper that still have plastic tape attached. So what to do? Maybe you are prepared to invest some time looking into the benefits of paper tape and dispensers.

Dispensers for gummed paper tape start around £40 for a basic and go into many £hundreds for the electric variety. These are quick to use and present you with precise, pre-set lengths of ready-to-apply paper tape at the touch of a button.

The alternative, which is becoming popular with both small and large users, is the self-adhesive paper tape in sizes and units that mimic plastic tapes and use similar adhesives. Paper tapes blend in discreetly on corrugated and paper packaging. A word of caution here: paper tapes have a lower burst tolerance than most plastic tapes, so a reinforced paper is needed for sealing heavier packages.

Various Die-Cut Postal Cartons 

Popular in but not limited to Small Parcel Category. Clever little cartons that are lightweight, some are self-locking so don’t require tape for sealing and assemble in seconds. A great choice for fragile items which look neat and stylish too.

Maximum is 2kg, 45cm x 35cm x 16cm

Keeping within the limits of the various Royal Mail postal boxes sizes classifications is made simple by using either standard or bespoke fold-up cartons. With a useful variety of styles available, choose whatever suits your operation. It’s not hard to use a green solution for your packaging. Just don’t be put off by the number of different options. Get to know your priorities and speak to a packaging expert who can guide you through to a great outcome.

Time spent experimenting may be repaid many times over through savings in postage costs. Learning how to optimise your packaging to fit postal sizes that looks great as well as protecting each delivery will certainly help you win over customer loyalty. It can be done!

Want to find out more? Just drop us a question here:

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For over sixty years, bubble wrap has been the go-to product for the busy warehouse looking for fast reliable protective packaging and void fill. However, with single-use plastics coming under ever more scrutiny with consumers unable to add bubble wrap straight into their curbside recycling, eco-friendly alternatives are coming to the fore. At Acopia, we have seen a marked increase in customers looking for this.

In response to this demand, we launched NEST an e-commerce packaging range, completely dedicated to sustainability. This included many products made from recycled content, from FSC accredited sources, some we were able to locally source for reduced carbon footprint wins and all are 100% recyclable. So let’s take a look at some of the eco-friendly alternatives that are proving popular with our clients.

Tesslewrap (or Geami Paper)

Tesslewrap - an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

Tesslewrap – an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

This is a product that’s really sought after – and it’s easy to see why! Tesslewrap not only looks attractive, it’s also an excellent eco alternative to bubble wrap. This packaging solution consists of a die-cut paper roll with a white tissue paper lining layer. It’s optional as to whether you choose to have the tissue liner, but if you’re going for aesthetics, you’d probably want it. It’s 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable with no need for end-users to travel to special recycling facilities. One of its USP’s is guarding against ‘shock’. That’s made possible through the die-cut outer paper. Honeycomb in structure, it fully protects fragile goods against hard knocks and transport.

What’s really special however is how it looks. A whole lot nicer than bubble wrap, packaging has never looked so appealing! Whether used as a void filler or for wrapping products – customers are sure to love it! Equally at home on the shop or trade counter or an eCommerce situation, If you want to make a statement with your packaging – this may well be the product for you.

You can shop for Tesslewrap here

SnugShell product protection

SnugShell - an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

SnugShell – an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

An innovative new product that is perfect for glassware, ceramics, bottles, jars and food and drink items. Snugshell comes in three sizes and fits elegantly around products like a protective sleeve. It has a clever integral base that provides added protection where needed most. The even better news is that it is made from FSC accredited sources as well as being 100% recyclable. We’re sure you’ll agree – it looks so much nicer than bubble wrap too!

SnugShell can also be made to bespoke sizes and colours to be matched to your brand or product.

Our quick video below shows you all about it and  you can shop for Snugshell here

 

Zigglefil – Kraft Eco Paper Void fill

Zigglefill - an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

Zigglefill – an eco-friendly alternative to bubble wrap

Another innovation in product protection, and this one is rather special. We think this is possibly the most eco-friendly void fills on the market today! You already know this product if you have had a quick look at Snugshell as Zigglefil is a by-product created through Snugshell’s manufacture. It’s supplied in random widths as it’s made from different sized Snugshell sleeves.

But the eco-credentials don’t stop there, Zigglefil arrives in recyclable, reusable cartons, sealed with paper tape. You already know it starts life from FSC accredited sources and is 100% recyclable. Green from end to end, Zigglefil is perfect for void fill as well as product presentation. It’s a really attractive and cost-effective alternative to bubble wrap.

Great for bulky items and for those more delicate products, we also have a range of coloured Zigglefil shredded paper which is perfect for smaller items or when you really want to inject a splash of colour! You can see more on that range here.

Watch it in action in the video below and you can shop for Zigglefil here

 

Innovation in eco-friendly packaging

It’s clear to see that the necessity in reducing environmental impact is the driving force behind the change with many new eco-friendly packaging products appearing on the market. Our NEST range certainly continues to grow as we see increased product innovation to reduce plastic and make it easier for consumers to play their part in recycling their waste packaging. We’ve seen that these products can certainly play the same role as plastic in terms of function and product protection qualities.  And where 67% of consumers prefer to see online orders arriving in paper packaging, it certainly makes sense for those brands keen to increase their eco-credentials to use these alternatives to bubble wrap.

If you would like to know more or receive a free sample on any of the products mentioned here or in our NEST range, please just get in touch using the form below!

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