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What are Poly Mailers? Everything You Need to Know To Send Orders Safely

By Katie McCann

Ecommerce businesses are always looking for ways to do things faster and more accurately, all without breaking the bank. While this is a difficult balance to strike, there are certainly a number of things you can do to find savings while maintaining a high level of quality. This mission to find quality shipping solutions for less can explain the rise in the popularity of poly mailers: a new type of product shipping packaging that many claim is more affordable, yet just as reliable as box packaging. 

This kind of packaging goes by many names: poly mailer bags, poly bags, plastic bags, bubble wrap bags, or bubble poly bags, to name a few. But no matter what you call them, they have undeniably become a new staple in ecommerce fulfillment warehouses everywhere. 

You'll want to consider poly mailers as a potential solution to some of your shipping woes! In this guide to poly mailer bags, we’ll cover everything that you need to know – from how to get them to when it’s best to use them over boxes.

Keep reading to discover if poly mailing bags really are the packaging solution you’ve been looking for.

What are Poly Mailers?

Poly mailers are a type of packaging made from plastic. The “poly” in its name comes from the type of plastic it’s made of: polyethylene. This happens to be the most common type of plastic in use today

Some of the features and benefits of poly mailers include: 

  • Being lightweight and slim yet sturdy and resistant to damage, unlike other types of packaging 
  • Coming in a variety of different sizes, colours and styles. 
  • Thin packaging that means they will take up less space in a shipping vehicle. 
  • Being sealed with a self-adhesive lip and often come with built-in bubble wrap. This helps you save on the added costs associated with padding and packaging tape.

What Are The Different Types of Poly Mailers? 

There isn’t just one type of poly mailer packaging. Most often, you’ll be able to choose from different options. Here are some of the variations.

Standard Poly Mailer Bags

A regular poly mailer bag is the most affordable option of the bunch. These don’t include the built-in bubble wrap on the inside. Regardless, they are still sturdy mailers that get the job done without the extra frills. These types of shipping bags will not be the most appropriate option for delicate items in need of padded protection from damage during shipping.

Bubble-Padded Shipping Bags

These poly mailers are essentially standard poly mailer bags with the addition of bubble wrap. Lining the inside of the package with bubble wrap allows the shipping bag to stay thin while still providing that extra layer of protection needed for the many different product types you may have. 

Heavy-Duty Expansion Poly Mailers 

Expansion poly mailer shipping packages are made out of a stronger, heavier plastic that is moisture-, puncture- and tear-proof for added protection.

Environmentally-Friendly Mailers 

While a plastic mailer may not sound like an eco-friendly option at first, think again! Recycled and biodegradable mailers allow you to minimize plastic waste, while also marketing your environmental efforts to your customer base.

You can even have your poly mailer bags custom-made to include your brand colors, designs, to have specific dimensions and more. 

When Should I Use Poly Mailers? 

It can be difficult to figure out when to use a poly mailer over boxes. Let’s go through some common types of products and the situations in which these plastic mailers would or would not be effective. 

Books, Art & Prints

Books, arts and prints can be very suitable items to be transported in poly mailers, especially when shipping individual products. Using a poly mailer for a flat item reduces the amount of space needed for these deliveries in a vehicle. 

Consider a box when shipping books in bulk, or when shipping intricate, delicate pieces that need many layers of protection. 

Apparel

Clothing, accessories, face masks, footwear and more can all be shipped efficiently in poly mailer shipping bags. Soft materials aren’t vulnerable to being crushed in shipping vehicles, and they can’t pierce through bags, either. This makes them great for poly mailers!

Consider a box if you’re shipping very delicate items (such as wedding dresses) that need several layers of protection. Boxes are also a better option for collector’s items, like shoes where the box is part of the product. A poly mailer won't be able to provide the level of protection collectors expect. You can also protect these kinds of items with additional shipping insurance. 

Beauty, Health & Wellness Products

These kinds of items can also be shipped safely and securely in poly mailers. They’re often small, slim and require only the built-in bubble wrap for protection. Regardless of their packaging, however, it’s important that the items be sealed securely before shipment. 

Consider a box for oddly shaped beauty, health & wellness items, and items made out of glass. A bulky item could stick out and become more vulnerable to damage or perhaps even do damage itself, especially if it has sharp corners. 

Toys and Electronics

Toys and electronics are often not best suited for poly mailers, especially due to the wide variety of shapes they can come in. Any oddly-shaped item transported in a poly mailer-type bag can cause avoidable problems during the shipping process: when a poly mailer is poorly-filled with various flat spots, the package could get caught in machinery or be misread. This can lead to machine errors and potential delays in shipping times. 

Electronics are often vulnerable to things like air pressure changes during a flight and damage from jostling, which is why you should always take extra precautions with these items during the shipping process. It’s for this reason that shipping providers like UPS recommend shipping boxed electronics in another box

It's best to use a box when shipping a mix or set of items to avoid any errors.

What Are the Benefits of Poly Mailers? 

Depending on your business needs, poly mailing bags can be beneficial to your shipping process. Here are some ways how:

Poly Mailers Can Help Reduce Your Shipping Costs

First and foremost, using poly mailer shipping bags in place of boxes can help you find meaningful savings. When purchased in bulk, poly mailer bags can be as inexpensive as 0.25 cents per bag, when similarly sized boxes would cost closer to 1.25 cents per box. Plus, not only will poly mailing bags take up less room in an ecommerce warehouse due to their slim shape, but they can also be less expensive to ship for this same reason. 

Weight and the dimensions of your packages are two factors that always go into the cost. Carriers often charge by whichever is greater: the weight of your package or the space it takes up on a delivery vehicle. Poly mailers can be the perfect response to this. Not only do poly mailing bags weigh less than boxes, helping you save on the cost of the weight of a package, but they can also help you avoid paying for taking up more room than is necessary on a shipping vehicle. 

Another way that poly mailer bags help you find savings is with their built-in adhesive strips and bubble wrapping. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but consider how the costs of bubble wrap and shipping tape add up over time. Plus, with these features built in, it becomes just one less step to worry about, helping you streamline your packing process.  

Poly Mailers Can Help Create Better Shipping Experiences for Your Customers 

When it comes to increasing your customer satisfaction, no detail should be overlooked. That’s why some of the little benefits of poly mailing bags can actually make a huge difference when it comes to impressing your customers. 

You can get poly mailing bags outfitted with two adhesive strips for when the order is packed and one in case of a return. This is important considering the rising rates of package returns and the high expectations that customers can have for the overall shipping experience. 

Additionally, due to the strong adhesives featured on these shipping bags, it would be very obvious if a package was tampered with. At the same time, you can get poly mailers outfitted with tear away strips that make it easy for the customer to open the package. Essentially, poly mailing bags make packaging more secure from tampering and make unboxing easy for the customer at the very same time. 

What’s more, because poly mailing bags take up less space, they’re more likely to be able to fit in a customer’s mailbox — making them less susceptible to theft. Details like these may seem small in the grander scheme of things, but they can have a meaningful impact on the customer experience. 

Poly Mailers Offer Customizable Packaging Options 

These shipping bags are highly customizable, so you can add unique brand touches, opt for more eco-friendly options, and order custom sizes. Any savings from poly mailers can go towards that sleek custom packaging

Where Can I Get Poly Mailers? 

You can purchase poly mailers from any of the major carriers in your area. If possible, you want to purchase in bulk to score some savings. Some of the places that sell poly mailing bags in Canada include: 

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Canada Post
  • UPS
  • FedEx
  • Purolator 
  • ULINE Canada
  • Staples 

How Much Do Poly Mailers Cost?

The cost of poly mailing bags will range depending on where you purchase them and what their features are. As an example, At ULINE Canada, you can purchase one case of 100 medium-sized, bubble-wrapped mailers for $45 CAD. Keep in mind that mailers from major retailers sold in bulk will be plain without your branded packaging.

How Do I Get Custom Poly Mailers? 

You will have to connect with a third-party vendor for packaging that’s customized with your desired look, sizing and features. Companies such as Northern Specialty Supplies Inc. Sticker Mule and Packhelp are some places to start. You may need to request a quote from these vendors, or you can choose from a selection online. Keep in mind that custom mailers will likely take longer to recieve than plain shipping bags. 

Final Thoughts on Poly Mailers

Poly mailers aren't the perfect fit for every ecommerce business – is it ever that easy? But they can help certain businesses find savings, delight customers, and make packaging more convenient

Most importantly, merchants must consider the kind of protection their items need during the shipping process when debating boxes versus poly mailers. Depending on your product line, they could be just what you’ve been looking for to optimize your shipping process!

Katie McCann
By Katie McCann

Katie is the Content Marketing Manager at Bolt, creating resources to help ecommerce businesses of all size thrive. When she's not tracking her online orders right to her doorstep, she's obsessing over her pandemic puppy and learning TikTok dances.