How a Mailer-Sized Parcel Changes the Game for Packaging Automation  

If you have ever been happy to see an online purchase when opening your mailbox, you’ll likely agree that good things can come in small packages. Mailers, packages that fit the size threshold to be delivered to mailboxes, can be a great solution to several challenges that are common within fulfillment centers while offering cost savings and convenience for businesses and consumers alike. As with all packaging, it is important to match with the needs of the product. For businesses that have smaller, high-value items within their product mix, exploring an automated mailer system can create a tremendous amount of value.  

Challenge: Controlling packaging sizes and costs

Solution: Reduction from shipping box to mailer profile to save DIM weight 

When packaging items within a box destined for end customers, freight costs are often tied to dimensional (DIM) weight. Put simply, the weight and volume of the package will influence how expensive it is to ship. For this reason, it is in the best interest of brands to reduce the size of their packaging. Small items shipped in big, bulky boxes are a surefire way to incur significant and unnecessary freight costs. For certain products it’s possible to take right-sizing even further, swapping out a box for a mailer parcel. 

There are several reasons why mailers are advantageous, including shipping cost reductions and different rates for package vs. mail deliveries in many jurisdictions. Ranpak Automation’s Flap’it!™ automated mailer system not only allows for smaller products to be shipped within a mailer sized parcel, but it also fully automates the formation, right sizing, and sealing of a rigid cardboard mailer from a single blank. Packaging is smaller, more consistent, and is adaptable to a range of product sizes, helping to consolidate the number of box footprints required to ship multiple order types. 

Challenge: Maintaining throughput with limited labor availability

Solution: Automation to improve packaging speeds up to five times manual packing 

Manually assembling and loading mailers is a repetitive process that is can be difficult to hire for. By automating the full assembly and sealing of the mailer, the Flap’it!™ eliminates the more time-consuming elements of the process, allowing employees to pack orders up to five times faster than before. Thanks to this significant increase in packing speed, staff time can be reallocated to more strategic tasks and fewer employees are required to manage packing operations. Plus, automation can help reduce packaging costs compared to manually assembled swivel packaging.

Learn more about how picking strategies work with automation

Challenge: Shipping high-value items within a mailer requires adequate protection from damage 

Solution: Rigid, reinforced cardboard mailers that are rugged enough to protect during a fall 

While shipping soft or less fragile items such as clothing items within flexible mailers is a common practice, items that are rigid, fragile, or of higher value will need to have a more reinforced level of protection. Flap’it!™ produces parcels formed from a single cardboard blank, right-sized and secured with hot-melt adhesive. These packages are formed with a minimum of 1cm of shock absorbing bumper reinforcing each corner, helping keep goods protected in transit in the event of a drop. Because of their solid profile and resilience, these parcels make ideal pairings for consumer electronics, B2B components, photo albums and printings, as well as books. 

Challenge: Consolidating packaging materials and footprints

Solution: Leveraging automation to right-size packaging and reduce the need for void fill 

Within a traditional packaging operation, it is common for multiple box sizes to be used to provide the right profile for different order sizes. Without careful analysis of the specific product mixes being shipped, a lack of visibility can often result in more box sizes than necessary being included in the warehouse. These take up space and add expense to the packing process. Ranpak Automation solutions, including Flap’it!™, aim to reduce box footprints by right-sizing packaging around the products being shipped. In the case of Flap’it!™, no void fill is needed to secure products which saves additional source of material cost. For larger orders, the Cut’it!™ EVO offers automated height reduction, sealing boxes at their highest point of filling. 

Learn more about using automation to right-size packaging

Industries where automated mailers are a strong fit for products and pain points.

The profile of Flap’it!™ packaging makes it well suited for smaller, flat items. It provides packaging that meets the needs of multiple industries, and because of the low-profile footprint of this solution, it integrates well into a warehouse or fulfilment center where multiple SKUs are being shipped. Whether addressing one part of a product mix or handling the bulk of shipment at scale, some example industries and their particular use cases are examined here.  

Personalized gifts and printing  

Flap’it!™ fits in perfectly to the business model of personalized gifts and printing. Where orders are being processed that include custom items and customer memories, it’s critical to ensure that items are delivered without damage and are processed quickly.  

The additional benefit of a uniform profile for many of the products being packaged makes the Flap’it!™ a strong choice that can help maximize the work output of each employee.  

  • Personalized gifts companies – unique print on each product. 
  • Online photobook companies. 
  • On- and offline printing companies (business cards, brochures etc..). 
  • Packaging performance and shipping quality is key. 

Book resellers 

Another business that focuses on uniform, flat products, booksellers can operate within high volume environments where speed and packaging quality are the measures of success. This is an area where the reinforced corners of the packaging created by Flap’it!™ can make a significant difference, protecting hardcovers in the event of package drops.  

  • Sellers will typically ship books, including novels, cooking books, study books, and management books. 
  • Direct to customer business and third-party logistics (3PL) providers are involved. 
  • Businesses may be specialized in books, or simply have sufficient books as a product category to have a Flap’it! to supplement their regular packaging equipment. 
  • Packaging performance and shipping quality is key. 

Small electronics for business-to-consumer (B2C) 

Consumer electronics are often higher-value items, with fragile components including screens and sensitive joints. For these, packaging needs to be highly protective. Reducing the costs of shipping are also important to preserve the profit margin for businesses, which is where the reduction of packaging sizes can be a major benefit in ROI creation.  

  • Shipping of fragile or expensive electronics and spare parts. This includes phones, headphones, chargers, cables, and more.  
  • High quality packaging and unboxing experience is key. 

Small electronics, parts, and components for business-to-business (B2B) 

B2B electronics sales are another industry where products are high-value and margins need to be protected by right-sized packaging. The rigid cardboard exterior and self-reinforcing layout of the Flap’it!™ provide the protection needed for fragile equipment.  

  • Shipping of fragile & expensive electronics and spare parts  
  • Products will include PCBs, PLCs, displays, power supplies and more.  
  • Rigid mailers provide a good fit for lower profile products, delivering a competitive cost advantage compared to regular boxes and 3D box shaping solutions. 
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