Polybag Packaging Can Drive Six-Figure Savings Versus Shipping Boxes

July 28, 2020 by Amware Fulfillment

If you’re looking for more economical shipping options, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

More accurately, don’t be afraid to think beyond it – because in many cases the key to significant eCommerce fulfillment savings may not require the use of an actual box at all.

Meet the polybag. If you shop online, you’re probably quite familiar with it already, because many eTailers use polybag packaging as their shipping container of choice. But if your brand is still “brown boxing” it, you may want to consider the many financial advantages of polybags. To help, we recently sat down for a heart-to-heart chat with this handy parcel shipping tool (which we’ve affectionately dubbed “Polly”) to get the full story.

Thanks for taking the time to be here, Polly. We know you’re really busy these days.

You’ve got that right. Online sales have increased dramatically since the start of COVID-19, so I’ve been traveling to people’s homes a lot more than usual – and getting even more of a workout at fulfillment centers across the country.

We have to admit that you’re looking a bit thin. . .

I prefer the terms lightweight or streamlined, if you don’t mind. And while it may not look healthy to you, it’s actually hugely healthy for the companies that use me, because I weigh considerably less than cardboard, and that makes me a lot less expensive to ship.

Tell us more.

If a company sells a small, durable product and uses polybag packaging to ship instead of boxes, it can result in substantial reductions off the total weight of a package and the corresponding shipping price, especially if you’re dealing with something lightweight.

For example let’s say you ship 60,000 orders per year via the USPS and that the boxed shipments you’ve sent have weighed 12.1 ounces. By using me instead of a box, you can get the shipping weight down to 11.2 ounces, which is a 7.4% reduction, and save anywhere from $66,600 to $74,400 per year depending on which zone you’re shipping to.

polybags-table-1-rev

That small weight reduction can be even more substantial if it enables a company to make the leap from shipping packages that are just above one pound to just below one pound – as the table below demonstrates. That’s because a shipment that weighs even a hair over one pound will trigger a rated weight of 2.0 pounds (and all the extra expense that goes along with it), while a shipment that weighs just below a pound will ship at the far more economical cost-per-ounce rate.

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So if a company ships 60,000 boxed parcels a year that weigh 16.8 ounces and can use polybags like me to get its total parcel weight to 15.7 ounces, its savings will range from $156,000 to $329,400 per year.

polybags-table-2

Wow – and that even considers the fact that the USPS now uses zone-based pricing for all packages below one pound?

Yes. I’m still one of the best and easiest parcel cost reduction tactics for companies to implement – which is why you see so many eTailers like Amazon using me.

What other kinds of shipping economies do you enable?

Even in this era of dimensional weight pricing, many companies still use bigger boxes and considerably more fill material than they need just to get shipments out the door ASAP. And both of those things can drive costs up significantly.

I typically enable businesses to achieve better “product container alignment” and eliminate unnecessary dim weight charges. In addition, I don’t require filler material, which is a plus from a shipping and material purchasing perspective.

Rumor has it you’re also pretty low-maintenance, especially in the fulfillment center.

Thanks for noticing, because this is an advantage a lot of businesses tend to overlook.

Time and touch points equal cost in a fulfillment center. And when paired with the right kind of mechanization, I can be highly effective at reducing both, as the table below indicates.

 

BOX

POLYBAG
PACKAGING

Productivity

As many as 13 steps and 15 seconds to pack an order

Just open, fill and seal. Potential throughput increase of 3.5x

Pack Station

Adds to clutter and time to retrieve materials

Less storage space required, greater packer productivity

Protection

Filler and tape required

No filler, so related supplies and labor are eliminated

Labels

Add time, hassle, potential for error

None if print-on-bag technology is utilized

 

In spite of these advantages, you still have some critics. For example, some people have accused you of being kind of generic and boring – and implied that customers who receive you will miss the excitement of opening a box. How do you respond?

Polybag packagingTo be honest, that all depends on how much of a priority the unboxing experience has been for your company. If you’ve been sending things out in generic boxes and merely tossed products in with a bit of dunnage, there’s really not much for your customers to miss, is there? In fact, some customers might consider the switch to me to be an improvement, because unlike boxes, I’m generally easier to open and more convenient to dispose of.

As for being generic, that’s a non-issue. Polybag packaging can easily be customized to include a company’s name, logo, and other key branding information, just like a box. In addition, it’s often possible to print customers’ mailing information directly on me with high-quality laser technology, which is often a step up from the standard slap-and-stick mailing label you see on most boxes. And there’s certainly no rule that says you can’t put product literature, notes to the customer, product samples or other forms of personalization in me before I’m sealed. I’m really quite flexible.

All in all, you make a lot of sense – especially for companies who are looking for pain-free ways to reduce shipping and labor costs. But in the interest of being fair, we have to ask: Are there any kinds of shipments you’re NOT a good fit for?

Of course, because no shipping material is a perfect match for every product – or every kind of company. My trim profile is not ideal for bulky, fragile or high-value products. In addition, there are some kinds of fulfillment models where custom packaging combinations like boxes and dunnage might be the better shipping solution.

That’s why I encourage companies who want to know more about polybag packaging to contact Amware Fulfillment. It uses polybags as well as boxes for many eTailers, direct sellers, subscription companies, and multi-channel sellers, and its engineers can provide a lot of real-world advice about the packaging options that might work best for a particular product and business.

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Filed Under: Parcel Shipping for eCommerce, Fulfillment Operations