What’s both stylish and can be shipped directly in the mail? A mailer box!
These not-so-humble box mailers are not only durable (to keep your products safe), but they’re also highly customizable, so you can get your brand noticed and create memorable experiences for your customers.
In retail, mailer boxes can be used as gift boxes and for sending out promotional materials. They are easy to assemble and extremely effective for keeping ecommerce orders safe and secure. Mailer boxes are nothing new, but they’ve become more mainstream because of the thriving subscription box market.
Subscription boxes, as we know them today, have only been around since 2004, but they are now a dominant feature of the ecommerce landscape. Consider this:
Many of the products subscription services are shipping out arrive in mailer boxes. These boxes, usually custom mailers, are very versatile, so they can fit all kinds of items. Everything from razors and makeup, to video game accessories and dog treats, can be ordered through a subscription box service. All of these items can fit neatly and be attractively displayed in a mailer box.
Mailer boxes aren’t limited to subscription services. They’re commonly used to send out everything from books and business cards to jackets and computer keyboards. In other words, if you order things online, you’ve likely seen a mailer box.
All of this translates to a tremendous amount of boxes arriving on people’s doorsteps.
Let’s find out how you can get the most from mailer boxes and stand out from the competition.
Not so long ago, companies and their customers gave little thought to what kind of box their products were shipped in. They just wanted the item inside to arrive intact and to be what they expected. But times have changed. A company that ignores what their mailer boxes look like is missing out on a highly effective and lucrative marketing strategy.
Sure, ordering online is convenient, but often, customers are looking for more. They want to be wowed by the complete experience, including the shipping mailer boxes their goods arrive in.
Mailer boxes offer so much room for customization. Even if your company is just starting out, you can give your customers a special experience. Everyone from tiny Etsy stores to well-established brick-and-mortar stores use mailer boxes for shipping their products and increasing brand recognition.
Mailer boxes offer a lot of flexibility. You can:
Remember to stay consistent with your branding across all of your marketing channels. Think about what colors you’re using on your website or what type of font you’ve used for your logo. You want people to see the mailer box and immediately identify it with your brand.
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Nowadays, social media is a key component of any marketing campaign, and unboxing videos are examples of initiatives that can skyrocket the value of your brand.
If you think people aren’t watching someone else open a box, think again. Try a cursory search on YouTube for unboxing videos, and you’ll be surprised at how many videos pop up. These videos are strangely addictive and popular.
What is the first thing people see in an unboxing video? You guessed it – the box! You don’t want to skimp on your mailer box design and miss the opportunity to create that valuable first impression.
Two of the most influential YouTube unboxing channels are Ryan’s World with 28 million subscribers and Unbox Therapy with nearly 18 million subscribers. That’s a crazy amount of people tuning in to see someone else open a box.
Sure, people tune in to these channels to see the actual products being unveiled, but they’re also enjoying the accompanying excitement of unwrapping the layers of packaging.
If you want to get noticed by customers (or influencers), the overall presentation is important–and yes, that includes the box! A beautiful custom mailer can enhance your customers’ experience and even give your products a higher perceived value.
Now that we’ve established the branding importance of mailer boxes, let’s talk about what makes up mailer boxes. As with all custom packaging, you want your boxes to be top quality.
Here are some things you should consider when buying mailer boxes:
Mailer boxes are primarily used to mail items and therefore durability is a must. That’s the reason why these boxes are usually made of corrugated material. It’s important to pick the right manufacturing paper for your purpose and products.
Here are some common paper grade options for mailer boxes:
These are the basic brown corrugated mailers we’re all familiar with. Kraft cardboard is an affordable option that gives you a rustic, natural look. Corrugated mailer boxes are made up of between 60-100% recycled material.
Some people prefer white corrugated mailer boxes. The look is cleaner, and graphics will stand out more with this choice. White corrugated packaging boxes also look high-end.
This corrugated packaging option gives you a smoother, brighter surface. It’s a little more expensive, so it’s a good pick for luxury brands.
Corrugated cardboard boxes also come in different thicknesses. Think about what you’re mailing. Is it lightweight? Fragile? Then decide on the flute grade (thickness) you need. Some common box mailer flute grades are E-flute 1/16 and B-flute 1/8.
Any kind of box can be dressed up or down, depending on your budget and the aesthetic you’re going for. A small budget is not an excuse to be boring. A simple brown box printed with your logo can create a lasting impression.
Even if your budget is almost non-existent, you can customize your mailer boxes. Order a hand stamp with your logo or try a custom sticker. It’s all about making your boxes your own and reinforcing your brand.
All of these boxes should be easy to assemble and need to be securely closed up somehow. Unlike regular shipping boxes that are often closed up with packaging tape, mailer boxes have some sort of tab-locking mechanism.
Some mailer boxes come with additional protective dust flaps to keep dirt out. You can even choose a box with a tear strip for added security. If you’re mailing the box, you can further secure it with tape or hot melt glue, so it doesn’t pop open during shipping.
You want your custom mailer box to create a good first impression as soon as it hits your customer’s doorstep. This means you want your text and graphics to look crisp and high-quality. Unintended blurry images are a no-go.
How good your graphics look comes down to the printing process you choose. There are several options out there, and there are a few factors to consider, namely your budget, any time constraints, the quality you’re looking for, and whether you are using your mailer boxes for shipping or retail packaging.
You no doubt realize the important role colors play in evoking a certain mood or increasing brand recognition, so it’s vital to understand a little bit about how these colors are printed on boxes.
There are two main color processes used when printing on mailer boxes: PMS and CMYK.
PMS uses premixed ink formulas from Pantone, so you’re sure to get consistent colors across all types of mediums. With PMS, you get more vibrant colors. It is the best option if you’re using a lot of thin lines or metallic or fluorescent colors.
If you’re using three colors or less, PMS is the cheaper option. But that doesn’t limit you to only three colors. You can “tint” colors to save money. For example, if you’re using green, you can add a little white to come up with mint green.
CMYK is the other color option. It’s made up of four colors: (C) cyan, (M) magenta, (Y) yellow, and (K) black. This process creates the images out of tiny dots. It’s your best bet if you want to use full-color photos or need a lot of different colors.
Now, on to the actual printing. There are two main options for printing on your custom mailer boxes: direct printing and pre-printing.
Direct printing, sometimes called post-printing, is when you print directly on the box. This method is often used with corrugated boxes.
Keep in mind that these printing techniques aren’t mutually exclusive. Feel free to mix things up to grab your customers’ attention.
If you want to get extra fancy, you can even combine direct printing with a litho label. Or if you want to splurge, go with two-sided printing. Whatever you choose, try to get the highest quality that’s within your budget. You don’t want to skimp on the appearance of your mailer boxes. You want them to look sharp and stand out.
Beautiful printing can be eye-catching and stand on its own. But if you want to elevate your product packaging design even more, consider adding a coating or other finishing touches. They can give your box a polished, high-end look.
One popular and relatively affordable coating option is an AQ finish. This vegetable cellulose coating was introduced in the 1970s. The coating makes a box look shiny and smooth and protects it from smudges and scratches. You can opt for a glossy or matte finish – or even satin, which is somewhere in between.
Another benefit of an AQ finish is it’s eco-friendly. Since it’s water-based, it’s nontoxic and can be easily recycled.
This is a clear liquid coating that’s applied and then dried with ultraviolet light. This coating will give your box some added texture. You may want to opt for a spot UV varnish where it’s only applied to a specific area of the box. This is a great way to make a desired design element pop, such as your logo or slogan.
To recap, here’s a table of the features and qualities to look for in mailer boxes:
|What to Look For||Feature/Quality||Mailer Box Description|
|Kraft corrugated cardboard||Basic brown box for a rustic, natural look|
|Uncoated white corrugated cardboard||White mailer box for a cleaner look|
|Clay-coated corrugated cardboard||Smoother, brighter surface but more expensive than other options|
|Closures||Protective dust flaps||To keep the dirt out|
|Tear strips||For added security|
|Printing||Flexography (flexo)||Popular direct printing technique that uses PMS colors|
|Digital printing||Higher quality than flexo, best for low printing volumes|
|Offset lithography (litho)||Pre-printing technique used for custom labels|
|Foil stamping (hot stamping)||Direct printing technique that uses hot dyes|
|Finishes||AQ finish||Vegetable cellulose coating protects the box from smudges and scratches|
|UV coating||Clear liquid coating applied and dried with UV light|
There’s no denying that e-commerce is booming. LimeLoop compiled data from the major shippers (USPS, FedEx, and UPS) and estimated that around 165 billion packages are shipped in the U.S. each year. But with all of these online sales comes huge amounts of waste heading to our already overflowing landfills.
This is concerning to customers and businesses alike. You can’t go a day without hearing distressing news stories about climate change or other impending environmental disasters. Sure, consumers love to buy the latest and greatest, but they’re also concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases.
One study found that 74% of consumers were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging, and a quarter of these were willing to pay an increased cost of 10% or more.
There’s no way to get rid of packaging completely, but customers appreciate companies that make an effort to be less wasteful. So give customers what they want. Box mailers not only look good, but they’re also one of the more eco-friendly options for packaging.
Here are some reasons why:
Eco-friendly doesn’t have to mean dull and monotonous. Sure, simply adorned kraft mailer boxes may convey the look you’re going for, but if you want to add more zing, there are many options. Today, you can find water-based, soy-based, and even algae-based inks that look beautiful and are good for the environment. So don’t let environmental concerns limit your color palette.
With so many options for your custom mailer boxes, you want to get exactly what you want. No matter if you work with a designer or decide to go it alone, you want to make sure your mailer box design will fit your needs.
Are small mailing boxes the right size for your products? Make sure you can fit all of your goods comfortably. You don’t want a fit that’s too tight or to have your items swimming around in there. How about the graphics? Are the colors right? Do your custom mailers with logo look good? Is everything spelled correctly?
When ordering custom mailer boxes, make sure to check the final proof. You can look at an online proof with a flat view, or perhaps a 3D mockup will help you visualize the final product. If you’re ordering a lot of mailer boxes and you have time, you may want to order a physical sample, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Your shipping mailer boxes are the face of your business, so make sure you get everything just right the first time. You’d hate to order 1,000 boxes with your company name misspelled or the wrong URL emblazoned on the side.
Mailer boxes are durable, but that doesn’t mean you can simply toss your items in and throw the box in the mail. There are certain things you may want to include inside.
Let’s start with protecting your product during shipping and fulfillment. Some items will fit perfectly snugly in the box and not need added padding, but for many items, you’ll need some sort of void fill to cushion your product so it’s not rattling around inside.
Here are some common options for void fill:
In addition to protecting your products, throwing a few added goodies into your mailer box can make the experience more personal for your customers. That’s something most will appreciate. According to one study, consumers were 80% more likely to make a purchase when companies offer personalized experiences.
So don’t waste the opportunity. It doesn’t take much to make your customer feel special. Here are a few things you could include in your box mailers:
As with all marketing endeavors, presentation counts with mailer boxes. Of course, you need to work within your budget, but that shouldn’t stop you from adding a little something extra. Who knows? You might get lucky and a social influencer may share an unboxing video of your product.
Perhaps more likely, customers will spread their impressions through word of mouth. According to the American Marketing Association, almost 75% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. And what better way to get them talking than getting them excited about your beautiful packaging?
Having a lot of options is usually a good thing, but it can also feel overwhelming. Sometimes, it helps to look at what others are doing.
Here are some mailer box examples that will get your creative juices flowing and give you a good jumping-off point to come up with your own mailer box design:
Lily and Onyx curates locally and internationally crafted goods that promote things like mindfulness and the “California” lifestyle. Their mailer boxes stay on brand. You can see the above packaging uses simple, tasteful, soothing colors, and typography that reflect the boho vibe the company is going for.
As with their products, Lily and Onyx’s packaging has a natural look. You won’t find any wasteful packaging here.
Love With Food, a snack delivery service, proves you don’t have to send out high-end goods to use stylish mailer boxes. Their service starts at just $7.99 a month, but they don’t skimp on their boxes. Their custom mailer boxes are bright red with white lettering, which reflects the branding on their website. The simple but bold color combination is sure to grab attention.
Sometimes, simplicity is the perfect reflection of your brand. Vegancuts offers snack, makeup, and beauty boxes. All of their offerings are 100% vegan and cruelty-free. They’re not about unnecessary excess, which is beautifully reflected in the simple line drawings and script on their printed mailer boxes.
Simplicity is not the name of the game for everyone. Popular lifestyle box subscription service FabFitFun is all about living life to the fullest. Their custom mailers are anything but subdued. Each season, they send out a new box with a new design. The boxes vary by the season, but they usually use several colors with images that cover the box inside and out.
What would you expect from a subscription box dedicated to reducing waste and plastics? Probably exactly what greenUP Box is sending out. Not only are their products all eco-friendly, but so is their packaging material.
The leaf-covered design and earthy green color of the box are reminiscent of nature. The box and the crinkle paper inside can be easily recycled, so no waste here.
Sometimes, it’s all about the glam factor. American Influencer Beauty Bundle is a bi-monthly subscription service that gives customers exclusive access to influencer beauty products. Their shiny mailer boxes have a luxurious look that appeals to their customer base looking for the latest beauty trends.
As their name suggests, Smartass & Sass is all about “snark, sass, and sarcasm.” Their custom-printed mailer boxes might not appeal to everyone, but they reflect the company vibe and cater to their customer base. Spend a few seconds on their website and you just know this is a fun company with a certain brand of humor.
Smartass & Sass uses boxes that look bold but are quite simple. It has kept the box for their secondary packaging to a single bright blue color with their name and a geometric pattern on top. They put their website address on one side and their catchphrase, “classy, sassy, and a bit smartassy,” emblazoned on another. Inside, they kept it plain to keep the emphasis on the quirky products you’ll find in the box.
Every month has a different theme, so you never know exactly what you’ll get, which adds to the excitement. They even share unboxing videos on their website of past boxes, so you get an idea of what kind of experience you can expect when this box lands on your porch.
You’ve got a desirable product, so don’t leave your packaging decisions as an afterthought. Packaging should be a critical part of your marketing plan. It’s often the first thing your customer sees, so you want to get it right and make a great first impression. Think about what your company represents, and make sure your packaging reflects that.
A thoughtfully designed mailer box can up your game and boost your brand identity – and, in turn, increase your sales. Remember, customers are looking for the whole experience, so make your mailer box memorable and special. A quality mailer box can both ensure your goods get to your customers in one piece and – just as importantly – have them coming back for more.
Refine Packaging is the top choice for the world’s Inc 5000 and Fortune 500 companies. With super fast production times, affordable pricing, and a sky’s the limit attitude, we’ll help you turn your custom packaging into a competitive differentiator. Contact us today and a dedicated packaging specialist will guide you through every step of the custom packaging process without breaking a sweat.
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