21 Apr 2017 Buyer’s Guide for Mailer Envelopes for E-Commerce and Subscription Applications
Even though we are best known for our beautifully printed and incredibly functional mailer boxes, we also custom print and brand a variety of mailer envelopes. As we often say, even a subscription “box” does not really have to be a box. So if you determine a mailer envelope will satisfy your shipping needs, the question becomes – which one?
There are many styles and combinations to choose from, most are good, but a few are bad. To some extent the decision is influenced by the following three factors:
- The amount of protection the product being shipped requires. Cushioned or non- cushioned?
- The type of graphic design and printing you want. How many ink colors?
- How many you are prepared to order? Every type has a different minimum.
Material Options for Mailer Envelopes
We can most easily divide mailer envelopes by the material used to make them.
Plastic mailer envelopes – like any form of plastic, it is available in a variety of compositions in terms of recycled content and recyclability. Not all films are created equally, yet most can be printed beautifully, but usually have a higher minimum. (See minimums blog post below)
Paperboard mailer envelopes – they are often called rigid mailers or Stays Flat® mailers and are designed for products that you want to make sure do not fold or crease during shipment. They are available in a variety of board thicknesses and colors, and styles and are often used for documents, calendars, books, etc. They print up beautifully, have a relatively low minimum and are even available with windows if you want the product or ship-to address showing.
Paper mailer envelopes – also available in a variety of paper finishes and composition, some with heavy recycled content and others with almost 100% virgin paper content. Generally they are relatively inexpensive and have a much lower MOQ for custom printing compared to plastic. However, they are usually printed on flexographic equipment like corrugated boxes are, and have the same limitations of design, and colors. (See “flexo friendly” post below).
Cushioned or non-cushioned mailer envelopes
Does your product REALLY require protection and cushioning? It may seem like a silly question but one we are obligated to ask because cushioning adds multiple costs (shipping inbound, storage, shipping outbound, etc.) and in many cases, the protection is totally unnecessary. A great example is the number of people who ask for a “bubble mailer” to be used to ship out tee shirts or other soft goods.
When a product and application does require cushioning we usually suggest poly bubble lined mailers because they are lightweight and effective. The down side from a branding perspective is that they always have a high MOQ for custom printing.
In need of an ecofriendly mailer envelope solution?
It is in this area of cushioned mailer envelopes where we have to draw the distinction between the green and not so green options. There are two different types of padded or cushioned mailer envelopes we do NOT offer:
- Paper/poly laminates. Unlike poly mailers with poly lining that can be recycled with other plastic bags, envelopes that are paper on the outside but bubble lined inside will always end up in a landfill. Even though both materials used (poly and paper) are technically recyclable, they cannot be when they are laminated together and not able to be separated.
- Paper with shredded paper filling – often sold as a green solution, they are bulky and heavy which can add considerable shipping cost. They also have a high minimum for branding and if you have ever accidently ripped one, you understand why many customers do not like them. In my book they rank right behind foam packing peanuts on the list of packaging people love to hate.
Mailer envelope options can appear overwhelming especially when you add features such as easy open strips, peel and seal adhesives, gusseted versus flat, even “two-way” envelopes designed to ship back and forth. However, we have a branded packaging advisor standing by and eager to help you choose and maximize your branded packaging investment. Call us today at 630-551-1700 or contact us via email at www.SalazarPackaging.com.