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Beyond the Box: How Alternative Packaging Helps Retailers and Distributors Save Time and Money

The old expression, “If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail,” has a corollary in the world of warehouses and distribution centers: If all that’s considered to package your products is a box, then every order looks like it requires just that.

The old expression, “If all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail,” has a corollary in the world of warehouses and distribution centers: If all that’s considered to package your products is a box, then every order looks like it requires just that.

But we’re going to encourage you to think outside the box, and even beyond the box. The wide variety of alternate options make it worthwhile to rethink how you approach packaging.

A Solution for Every Type of Product

Looking beyond the traditional corrugated box, retailers and distributors are maximizing productivity and efficiency, using less material, and cutting down on costs by utilizing packaging materials – including poly bagging, cohesive packaging and shipping mailers – that work better with the variety of products they ship.

Perhaps most notable is that these types of packaging solutions allow shippers to right size every order, which is a significant advantage given the sharp rise in eCommerce has steadily driven up prices and left the supply of standard corrugated boxes unusually tight in some markets.

While these three types of packaging solutions won’t work for every type of product, they’re a great choice for a wide spectrum of D2C or B2B goods. Let’s explore:

Poly mailers and bagging: These types of bagging solutions are ideal for a wide range of industries, including medical, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, eCommerce, retail and more. Whether the need is for adherence to machine and material technical specifications, retail-ready options, dimensional weight optimization, eye-catching graphics, or customer-friendly options such as tear strips and returnability, poly bagging solutions are engineered to meet specific operational needs and the ultimate end-user experience.

Cohesive packaging: This self-adhering, protective material solution instantly encapsulates a wide variety of goods whether sealed by hand or through automated equipment. Simple pressure is all that’s needed to quickly pack items as small as a business card to as large as a 10-foot trim piece, all in a variable-length package. Single-face corrugated, paper, linerboard, poly-paper, film, bubble or foam substrates is coupled with customer-friendly and branded options to customize the protection, cushioning, performance, aesthetic and environmental impact a package has.

Shipping mailers: Made with or without cushioning, mailers are ideal for items such as clothing, books and media because they are light in weight and help keep shipping costs down. For items that need extra protection, a self-sealing corrugated mailer box offers superior rigidity without the cost and setup time required of standard corrugated boxes.

Automating Outbound Packaging with Mailers and Bags

Automated packaging equipment could be the right solution for retailers and distribution centers that want to increase their throughput while being able to reallocate labor to other high-need areas. Optimizing the labor need for outbound packaging can dramatically reduce total package costs, especially considering the combination of labor, material and shipping savings with automation. With the national unemployment rate at record lows, automation can also help by allowing you to refocus and identify where additional labor is needed, and minimize search efforts and onboarding processes for new hires.

With the wide variety of automation solutions available, it’s important that they’re completely customized to meet the specific needs of each retailer or distributor. When looking to implement any type of automated packaging system, every element should be specifically tailored, taking into account the types of products shipped, package volume, expectations for growth, staffing levels and facility layout.

For poly bagging and cohesive packaging, consideration should be taken for production flow, from the pick-and-pack operation to workstations or pack areas, including the design of the workstations themselves, and shipping procedures. Examples include both inbound and outbound packaging solutions, such as redesigned workstations, literature inserters, scales, inline bag and machine systems, and shipping label integration.

What’s more is that retailers and distributors report they can realize savings in as little as 12 weeks because of reduced costs and increased throughput.

With more than 45 service technicians and a team of highly specialized engineering consultants, the experts at Pregis are equipped to problem-solve and handle any challenge. And a comprehensive suite of solutions available ensures that no goal is too far out of reach. 

Preparing with the Future in Mind

It’s never too early to evaluate the busy season and address potential issues now, as this upcoming holiday season is expected to be one of the busiest in years. In August, the National Retail Federation predicted that retail spending – excluding automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants – would climb at least 4.5 percent in 2018, and much of that will come from eCommerce.

The Right Expertise at the Right Time

Thinking beyond the box provides a path to faster throughput, package efficiency, reduced costs and, most important, a happy customer.


For a detailed look at Pregis’ full line of mailing and bagging solutions, visit